US forward Chris Wondolowski (black) will need to score at least once against Mexico to give the Americans a chance
Wednesday evening at 8 EST, the USA soccer team will make the trek down to the vibrant Estadio Azteca. Awaiting the Americans is a talented Mexican team ready to show off its recent dominance in front of over 100,000 fans.
Mexico has enjoyed nearly every possible advantage over the US since its 4-2 victory over the Americans in the Gold Cup final, and looks to continue to prove so on the international stage.
Boasting talent the likes of forwards Javier "Chicarito" Hernandez and Pablo Barrera, Mexico's team has been on the rise for a few years.
Now, Mexico sits on top of the world and holding an Olympic gold medal. Mexico defeated challenger Brazil 2-1 in the final match, during which star Giovani dos Santos couldn't play.
The rivalry has been one sided as of late. It's been all Mexico (3-0-1 in the last two years), highlighted by a dominant 4-2 Gold Cup Final win against the U.S. in 2011.
So who will stand out for the Americans against such a highly touted opponent?
In my mind, two players have to do considerable damage if the U.S. looks to keep pace with the Olympic champions. Forward Chris Wondolowski and defenseman Fabian Johnson.
Wondolowski is having a fantastic year for the San Jose Earthquakes. With 18 goals under his belt in 23 games, Wondolowski stands on pace to break the all-time record for goals in a single season currently held by Roy Lassiter (27 in 1996).
Perhaps even more impressively, Wondolowski also stands to break the record for most goals over a three-year span. Lassiter also currently holds this mark, with 55 between 1996 and 1998. Wondolowski has put away 52 so far, and has 11 games left on the schedule.
How will the US fare against Mexico Wednesday?
He must bring his best to Estadio Azteca. The game will feature a consistent onslaught by Mexico's finely tuned offense. If the Americans are to have a shot at keeping pace, they are going to need stellar play from their star scorer up top.
Now and perhaps more importantly, what will the U.S. do to stave off the Mexican attack?
Team USA's defense is greatly in need of someone to step into a dominant role and provide the unit with energy and leadership. It also wouldn't hurt for that player to have midfielder skills and scoring ability. For that, they have recently turned to German-American recruit Fabian Johnson.
Johnson plays for Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga. His appearance for America during international competition is a product of coach Jurgen Klinsmann's hiring. Johnson was able to transfer with a grant from FIFA that was finalized in 2011.
Against Mexico, Johnson hopes to strengthen his grip on a starting spot for Team USA. He can do so by keeping the Mexican pressure at bay and setting up the offense for counter attack with clean passes out of the backfield.
Home field advantage will be working against the Americans Wednesday. They are 0-8-1 in their last nine attempts to storm Estadio Azteca.
And, after making such a big statement in the 2012 Olympics, the Mexican squad will look to put on a display of excellence rivaling their most recent accomplishment.
The Mexicans will use the "friendly" match as a means to further the disparity between themselves and their northern competition.
Estadio Azteca will be rocking, and the on-field competition will not lack drama. Yet, the Americans are not to be counted out. Led by Chris Wondolowski and protected by Fabian Johnson, the U.S. has its own statement to make.