Form: The United States is 3-1-2 in full-strength 2012 matches, though they did not look impressive in the qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala. Mexico, outside the Olympics, has won five-straight since losing 2-0 to Colombia in February. Mexico beat Brazil 2-0 in a friendly earlier this summer. The USMNT lost to them 4-1.
Short-Handed: The USMNT is not sending a full-strength squad. Fabian Johnson is the only member of a first-choice back four who is present. The central pairing will be Geoff Cameron (off to Stoke) and Maurice Edu (who last played their during the Beijing Olympics). Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are also sitting this one out. Mexico has basically its full team, aside from Gio Dos Santos, Carlos Salcido and first-choice goalkeeper Jose Coronoa who played in the Olympics. They are better defensively, more skillful going forward and much quicker.
The Golden Age: Mexico is in a good place. Their U-17 World Cup-winning team from 2005 is beginning to hit its prime and spearheaded a Gold Cup win over the U.S. in 2011. Their age-restricted teams won the 2012 Olympic Gold and the 2011 U-17 World Cup. They also finished third at the last U-20 World Cup. Some are already touting them as a legit contender to win Brazil 2014. We might pump those brakes a bit – Mexico has not reached a quarterfinal when not hosting – but, at the very least, they will wear the pants for the foreseeable future north of the canal. Their weakest position at that tournament may be striker, with Chicharito. For U.S. fans, mind the gap.
Equality: Japan took some flack for flying its World Cup winning women coach to London. It turns out the U.S. has a similar policy. Though, hey, they let them take the train to Newcastle instead of a bus. So, there’s that. U.S. Soccer would argue they already pay the women salaries. The women might point out that Sunil ain’t flying coach and Klinsmann is pulling down six figures per match.
Prediction: Look for individual performances. Brace for a boat-racing. Make “This is only a friendly” your mantra for the evening.
[Photo via Getty]