To call the United States' match against Mexico a "friendly" would be misleading. Yes, it is an exhibition game, but there will be nothing friendly about it.
Tomorrow, American head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will be sending his players to the Azteca, in Mexico city, to strengthen his team's morale. The Americans will face their CONCACAF rivals under high temperatures, high altitude and with 100,000 Mexican fans wishing for their demise.
That should strengthen their morale all right.
On top of this, America, a team that did not even qualify for the 2012 Olympic Men's Soccer competition, will be facing the newly crowned Olympic champions.
In order for America to have a shot at securing their first win in 25 matches on Mexican soil (via SB Nation), the following players will need to put in top class performances.
1. Landon Donovan: The undisputed leader of the American team, Landon Donovan will be depended on for his playmaking, striking and leadership ability. Currently the MLS player of the week (via: LAG confidential), Donovan will have to be playing at the pinnacle of his versatile play.
But more imperative in a game like this will be Donovan's leadership. This game is less about winning or losing and more about being psychologically tested now, rather than during real competition.
Donovan will have to keep his fellow teammates' heads in the game and prevent them from submitting to pressure.
2. Fabian Johnson: Perhaps the only competent defender on team USA, Fabian Johnson will be responsible for directing the American defense. It will not be long before Mexico discovers that they can move the ball through the middle uncontested.
Team USA is going to have to hope that Johnson has enough defensive brilliance to go around.
However, Johnson is only one man—leaving three-quarters of the field open to the Mexican offense.
3. Tim Howard: The US's No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Howard will have to put on his most stunning performance yet. What the Americans lack in defense they are going to have to make up in goalkeeping.
Unfortunately, with the US being weak down the middle defensively, Mexico can execute strikes from optimum locations on the field.
Howard will undoubtedly have his work cut out for himself.
America's only hope:
Ultimately, the US is going to have to hope that Mexico play a less competitive game than they are capable of. Having just won the Olympic Gold last week, Mexico has announced a relatively lighter lineup than they are capable of producing.
Having said that, Mexico is still playing three-quarters of the team's attacking quartet and their best central midfielder—more than enough to test the inexperienced American defense (via SB Nation).
If they are underestimated, the US may be able to come away with a win that will boost morale through the roof. However, even under such circumstances, that is still a big "if."
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