Mexico vs. Canada: Key Battles to Watch in Gold Cup Clash
Mexico will take on Canada on Thursday night in Matchday 2 of the 2013 Gold Cup, with both sides in desperate need of a win after opening day defeats.
Seattle plays host to the encounter, with both sides already aware that defeat will mean almost certain elimination and a trip home with their tails between their legs.
As so often at international level, the game is likely to be a cagey affair that could be settled by the outcomes of a number of individual battles across the pitch.
Let's take a look at some of the key battles to watch.
Joel Huiqui vs. Tosaint Ricketts
The first of our battles sees journeyman striker Tosaint Ricketts coming face-to-face with Mexican veteran Joel Huiqui.
While Huiqui is a very competent and experienced defender, there may be some joy for Ricketts here. With his excellent pace, the Sandes Ulf striker may feel that he can expose his ageing opponent.
Ricketts' scoring record, though, is far from exceptional, and Huiqui will fancy his chances of dealing with his opponent as part of a back three.
If Canada can isolate the pair, though, they may get some joy out of the matchup.
Jorge Enriquez vs. Samuel Piette
The key to the midfield battle between the two sides is likely to be found in how young Fortuna Dusseldorf II midfielder Samuel Piette can deal with the attentions of Jorge Enriquez.
Just 18, Piette has just three caps to his name and no senior footballing experience. In Enriquez, he is facing one of Mexico's best young midfielders—a tireless worker who will get forward and back all match.
Canada cannot afford to let Mexico run the midfield, so Piette must prove that he is capable of playing at this level. It is, though, a massive test of his abilities as a footballer.
Israel Jimenez vs. Russell Teibert
Vancouver Whitecaps left midfielder Russell Teibert is one of the highest rated young talents in Canadian football and will have a chance to prove himself at international level on Thursday night.
Up against him will be Tigres right-back Israel Jimenez who, while not outstanding, is a more than competent full-back with a wealth of experience for a player of 23 years of age.
It will be far from easy for Teibert, who will be expected to be one of Canada's main attacking outlets.
Given Mexico's decision to play wing-backs, there could be space in behind Jimenez if he can get into one-on-one situations with his marker. For that to happen, though, he will have to hope his teammates can front up to their opponents in midfield.
Raul Jimenez vs. David Edgar
Raul Jimenez may have been one of the best strikers in the Liga MX last season, finding the net on 14 occasions, but he is yet to trouble the scorers in 13 appearances for his country.
At 22, though, he has plenty of time to set that record straight, and will hope to start against Canada on Thursday.
He will, though, have to deal with one of Canada's most experienced players—26-year-old Burnley defender David Edgar.
Edgar will be crucial to coordinating the defensive effort and will have his hands full with the tall and strong Jimenez, with creative midfielder Marco Fabian the supplier.
Make one mistake and Jimenez has shown with América that he will punish any opportunities granted.