Huge match for the US Men's National Team tonight... well actually not really. If anything it's really just a big game for our national team's new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann who signed on with the club a little more than two weeks ago. Fans will be expecting results, changes, and a long term vision for future successes, the latter of which being something that many complained Bradley lacked.
So tonight's game isn't that important for the win. If anything it'll just be a morale victory. But it'll still be interesting to see how Jurgen manages the game. Which players are brought out and which sit on the bench. Obviously it would be unfair to judge him too harshly after only a couple weeks, but life is unfair and judged he will be.
Let's take a look at each team.
Assessing Our Team
Klinsmann's roster looks a little different and, admittedly, a little disappointing than the announced roster a few days ago. Since then two up and coming American stars have been removed from the roster and replaced with two MLSers who, while not old by any stretch, probably won't be participating in any future World Cups (although I'd love to be proven wrong). Bundesliga player Timmy Chandler and Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu are both out of the roster for Zach Loyd and Robbie Rogers, respectively.Still the American side still has a host of other great youngsters I'd love to see get some minutes. Players like Jose Torres and Brek Shea in the midfield, Freddy Adu and Juan Agudelo up top and Edgar Castillo and Tim Ream in the back. These younger guys are our future. While Bocanegra, Donovan and Cherndolo have gotten the team to where it is today, the focus should be on younger guys with the potential for huge success.
I don't know what the line up will be like tonight, but I'm hoping it's just a smattering of veterans mixed in with mostly young guys. If we plan on winning the Gold Cup back from Mexico Jurgen will need his own Chicharito and dos Santos in the making right now. Perhaps one of these players can fill that role.
Assessing the Enemy
Ah Mexico... forever the arch rival to the USMNT. Sure, Canada is a fun rival as well, but nothing will compare to the bitterness of the USA vs. Mexico rivalry. Perhaps it has something to do with their fans throwing piss on our players. Regardless, they always make for interesting games.
The Americans have one thing really going well for them tonight: no Chicharito. I don't know why, but he's not going to be in tonight's game. For that, our backline should thank their lucky stars. That said, Tottenham midfielder Giovani dos Santos will certainly be there and will probably be starting. This was the player who made an absolute joke out of both the defensive backline and Tim Howard during the Gold Cup Finals.
Some other key names that stand out are Rafael Marquez, the defensive center back for the New York Red Bulls as well as Carlos Salcido who is quite the bruiser for Fulham. Both players should be keeping a lock down on Mexico's defensive end if they get meaningful minutes.
I won't bother trying to put up a projected starting line up. I have no clue.
As much as it pains me to say this, tonight's game is not about winning. While I always enjoy seeing the Mexican side go down to the USMNT, tonight should more importantly be focused on getting the younger players meaningful international minutes while also adjusting to their new head coach. We fans are just along for the ride.
Tonight's match kicks off at 6:00 PM on ESPN2.