Mexico and USA will resume their rivalry as both teams prepare for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with a friendly played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona on Wednesday.
As the match will not fall under any of the official slots FIFA provides national teams for friendlies, both teams will field squads mainly made up of players from each country's respective domestic league, giving several of the lesser-known players a chance to make their case for a possible selection ahead of the World Cup.
The big exception is of course Julian Green, who will make his Team USA debut after previously playing for Germany's youth setup. U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati shared news of the player's change of nationality on Twitter:
FIFA has approved change of nationality for Julian Green--he's eligible to play for USMNT immediately.— Sunil Gulati (@sunilgulati) March 24, 2014
As this is not an officially sanctioned friendly, Green would technically still be eligible to change his mind and play for Germany, but his inclusion in the squad indicates Green has made his decision, and the young winger will play for the USMNT for life.
Playing for Bayern Munich, the 18-year-old talent will now get his chance to show he should be considered for Jurgen Klinsmans's World Cup squad. The player certainly has the talent to do just that, despite his young age.
According to ESPN The Magazine, it would be quite the feat:
The USA will be looking to bounce back from the 2-0 loss suffered at the hands of Ukraine on March 5, and with Mexico missing several internationals like Giovanni Dos Santos (Inside Spanish Football reports Dos Santos would have missed the match with a muscle tear regardless, according to a press release from his club Villareal) and Javier Hernandez, this match could provide the perfect opportunity.
Jesus Corona will also not play for the visitors, as the Cruz Azul stopper will have to play in the CONCACAF tournament. In fact, Mexico will only travel to Arizona with a squad of 18 players, as reported by Goal.com's Tom Marshall.
One could easily be excused for thinking the Mexicans aren't taking this friendly very seriously, but make no mistake about it: These two teams don't like each other, and Mexico aren't just travelling to Arizona to experiment—they're coming to win.
The American fans are also expecting more than just a tune-up game for Brazil, as evidenced by this tweet from U.S. Soccer:
Ticket sales for #USAvMEX in Phoenix have surpassed 50,000. Remaining tix are expected to sell fast!— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) March 29, 2014
For Team USA, several players still fighting for a spot on the WC roster will get their chance in this match. Brad Evans in particular needs a good performance to help coach Klinsmann forget about some of the lesser matches he has played for the national team in recent months.
Brad Davis is another player looking for a big game, and while the midfielder has been very solid in the team's last few games, competition for the midfield spots is fierce. A good performance in a win against rivals Mexico could force Klinsmann's hand, however, forcing the USA team boss to take Davis with him to Brazil.
Lastly, much has been written about Green's inclusion in recent weeks, and the youngster is quickly emerging as the squad's biggest star for the future.
All eyes will be on the winger when the team goes up against Mexico, and Klinsmann will be almost forced to give Green at least 15 minutes of playing time, both for the fans and to keep his newest addition happy. Green will be looking to make an immediate impact as he won't have many chances at a spot on the final WC squad.
Games between these two teams are always highly emotional and very hard-fought, and with two teams filled with lesser stars looking to prove themselves, look for this friendly to be no different.
Both coaches will tinker with their teams quite a bit, though, which always hurts a squad's rhythm, making for an even match.
Final score: USA 2-2 Mexico