So it’s on tonite, Concacaf’s greatest rivalry comes to us from Phoenix, Arizona with the game sold-out.
Remiinds me of the U.S. 1-0 victory over Mexico at the Cotton Bowl that I covered a few years ago for HDNETthat also was really a home game for Mexico.
That trend will continue tonite with Mexico and reminds us that they play more national team games on U.S. soil than they do in Mexico.
Mexico’s most historic soccer star Hugo Sanchez will make his debut tonite as coach of Mexico and has already made it clear since his taking the job that the future is a more confident Mexican National team under his tenure. With all his bold predictions Sanchez is under huge pressure to get a result tonite. If not the Mexican press will have a field day.
Bob Bradley will have it easier in the U.S. and will only get pressure from the strong soccer culture but not from the general sports media if he does not get a result.
A few points to consider: *The U.S. has had more time together in camp prior to this game.
*Mexico could have the edge physically having began training in December with their clubs.
*Emotional control has always been a strong suit for the U.S. in games against Mexico.
How important will composure be in this one?
*Wins for both coaches can support public sentiment. In the case of Bob Bradley it may
make a strong arguement for removing the ‘interim’ tag status he currently has.
* Whose European players will have the larger influence?
*What younger players will get opportunity in a defining game
* Although he won’t admit it. This looks to be the begining of Tim Howard as the U.S.
number one based on performance. He was excellent in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool
last weekend. Howard played in goal back in 2003 against Mexico at Reliant Stadium in
Look for both teams to field experienced line-ups with players brought from Europe playing a role in this one.
In-experienced players at this level that could get their first ‘taste’ of this rivalry could be midfielder Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo) and Jonathan Bornestein (Chivas USA) defender midfielder.
Here are my thoughts on a U.S. lineup.
Albright Conrad Bocanegra Bornstein
Dempsey Maestroeni Clark Convey
A little concern defensively with Bornstein and Convey on the same side of the field ( remember the World Cup with Eddie Lewis and Convey against the Czech Republic). Are they good enough individual defenders? Bocanegra could be moved to left back and Bobby Boswell could be inserted but he like Bornstein and Clark have to prove they are ready for a game of this nature.
Bradley will have to balance youth and experience perfectly. Hugo Sanchez will rely on players like Pavel Pardo, Jared Borgetti and Cuahutemoc Blanco who may not represent the future of the national team but can help him achieve a result in his biggest ever game as a coach. Sanchez should start all his Euro based players at the including Carlos Salcido, Rafa Marquez, and Ricardo Osorio at the back in front of Oswaldo Sanchez.
This game was scheduled before either coach was named and both mentioned yesterday that a game of this magnitude comes too early.
8:00 pm central ESPN2 pre-game begins
*Let me know your thoughts on the U.S. lineup that you would like to see?
Also podcast of last nights Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis available at www.houstonchronicle.com and 790thesportsanimal.com