It does not get much bigger than United States men’s national team facing Mexico in a competitive match.
The stakes are raised even further given that both sides are coming off losses in World Cup Qualifying matches against Costa Rica for the States and Honduras for Mexico.
There are questions aplenty for U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann after his team’s performance in Costa Rica. Potential starters like Geoff Cameron, Jozy Altidore and Matt Besler will miss the match due to yellow card suspension. Along with this, Michael Bradley’s ankle injury is likely to keep America’s midfield maestro out of the lineup against El Tri.
To make up for such losses, Klinsmann has called in reinforcements to the Columbus camp in Jose Torres, Brad Davis, Clarence Goodson and Joe Corona.
Calling in Goodson almost all but confirms that the San Jose Earthquake man will be starting alongside Omar Gonzalez in the center of the defense.
Davis’ inclusion suggests that the German manager is aching for support on the left side of the field.
After DaMarcus Beasley’s underwhelming performance against Costa Rica, expect Fabian Johnson to slide back and play as the left fullback for the Yanks.
The spacing struggles of Michael Orozco Fiscal against the Ticos should lead Klinsmann to move on from the Puebla man and insert Bundesliga fullback Michael Parkhurst at right back.
Unfortunately, the murkiness does not stop with the backs.
Klinsmann’s affinity for Kyle Beckerman will lead to the RSL general’s inclusion in the starting eleven sitting in behind Jermaine Jones in the center of the midfield. Graham Zusi and Landon Donovan will likely round out the midfield on the right and left side respectively.
Interestingly, without the services of Altidore, Klinsmann could well turn to Eddie Johnson to play as a true striker with Clint Dempsey floating as a false No. 9 in a true 4-4-1-1.
Undoubtedly, this game will be fascinating to see the sort of tactical measures Klinsmann takes considering how many adjustments he will be forced to make because of suspensions and injuries.
Regardless of who is on the pitch in Columbus on Tuesday, the match should well provide another classic chapter in the entertaining Mexico-USA rivalry.