The United States and Mexico continue their rivalry on Wednesday night as both national teams continue preparing for the World Cup. The marquee international event is now just two months away, which means the battle for rosters spots is heating up.
An already anticipated match received a little extra buzz when it was announced Mexican club Puebla wouldn't provide clearance for Americans DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco. Since the match isn't being played on an international day, that was its option.
We got notice from Puebla that they don't release DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco, which we'd planned on and we are very angry, very angry about this because the Mexican clubs release all their players for this very prestigious friendly.
The United States moved forward with a short roster rather than name replacements. If nothing else, it should create an even more intense atmosphere for the match. So let's check out all of the key viewing information for the clash, followed by a preview and prediction.
What's your prediction for the friendly?
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
When: Wednesday, April 2 at 11 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Match Odds (via SBR Forum)
United States: +150
Top Storyline: Which players will make a positive impression with the World Cup looming?
Neither side will feature its best lineup for the friendly. Instead, it's a combination of players trying to lock down starting spots and those simply hoping to prove they belong on the final roster. So the pressure level is high even though the result itself is of minor consequence in this case.
For the Americans, there are a couple rising stars who should see a good amount of playing time. The most notable one being 18-year-old winger Julian Green from Bayern Munich, who opted to play for the U.S. over Germany at the international level.
Green has a realistic shot of getting on the plane to Brazil if he can make an impact in the remaining friendlies and camps before the final roster cut down is made. The future is undoubtedly bright, but Klinsmann needs to figure out how much he can help right now.
The other young player to keep an eye on is DeAndre Yedlin from the Seattle Sounders. The defender could draw the start with the United States lacking depth at the back due to Puebla's decision to withhold Beasley and Orozco.
As for more experienced players, the match could see a rare linkup between the side's biggest names. Doug McIntyre of ESPN noted if Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan play together, it would be the first such occurrence in nearly two years:
If Bradley, Dempsey + Donovan start v Mexico next wk, will be first time they've played together since June 2012. #usmnt— Doug McIntyre (@DougMacESPN) March 28, 2014
An attacking midfield trio of Dempsey, Donovan and Graham Zusi with Bradley and Kyle Beckerman seems likely. The question is whether they will play behind Chris Wondolowski, who's had some outstanding performances against lesser opponents, or Eddie Johnson.
Which team has a brighter World Cup outlook?
Mexico is without its big names from Europe as it went with a completely domestic squad. That means the United States won't have to deal with the likes of Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos or Andrés Guardado. Also, Oribe Peralta wasn't called up to the squad despite playing in Liga MX.
The attacking load will instead fall on the shoulders of Marco Fabian and Raul Jimenez, who have combined to score eight goals in 31 appearances.
Only two players on the roster—veteran defenders Rafael Marquez and Francisco Javier Rodriguez—have more than 30 matches of international experience. It makes the match even more of a proving ground for the Mexicans than the Americans.
The opportunity gives players like Carlos Pena and Alan Pulido to at the very least stay in the World Cup conversation with strong showings.
All told, between the rivalry and players fighting to prove their worth to their respective national teams, it should certainly be an entertaining fixture.
Based purely on the available rosters, the United States has the edge. It's unclear how either coach will manage the game, especially with a parade of substitutions likely to begin around halftime to get a look at more players.
That said, with the trio of Bradley, Dempsey and Donovan available, the Americans should have more stability in the midfield. As long as the back line holds up reasonably well, the United States will likely score the friendly triumph.
United States 2, Mexico 1