Mexico and the United States are hours away from their 63rd match. It's not a FIFA date, but this international friendly will give both managers the chance to try and look at some players who had not been on the team.
In just a couple of months, these CONCACAF heavyweights will seek to conquer the World Cup and to achieve the goal they have to put together a strong and experienced team.
Central Fox anchorman and Debate Final collaborator Alejandro Blanco discussed tonight's match with Bleacher Report. Central Fox will have special coverage of the Mexico vs. USA match at 11 p.m. PST.
Bleacher Report: What's the importance of today's match?
Alejandro Blanco: Pride. This rivalry is huge and it has grown especially because Mexico hasn't had good results against the United States lately. It is very important for Miguel Herrera because it is the first time he faces them. I believe it is also a key clash for some players who need to prove the coach why they should be in Mexico's World Cup team. It's true that this is not a FIFA date but this rival knows how to make things complicated for El Tri. They have good players in the MLS like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan.
B/R: It seems that Mexico prefers playing on the West Coast.
AB: Well, Columbus used to be the toughest city for them and the results were good for the U.S.; lately it doesn't matter much where they play. They have had great results even at the Estadio Azteca.
B/R: Do you think today is a key match to decide who is going to be Mexico's third goalkeeper in Brazil?
AB: Mexico have always had great keepers and that is has been one of the team's strongest position. I believe they are both going, Alfredo Talavera and Moises Munoz, although Jesus Corona will start. Guillermo Ochoa is the first Mexican goalkeeper in Europe and in all justice he should make the team. However, I think Miguel Herrera's system is not good for Ochoa.
B/R: Why do you say that?
AB: He is a fantastic keeper, there's no doubt. He has improved a lot in the aerial game but Miguel Herrera prefers the goalies who use their feet inside the box and that is something Ochoa doesn't do much. He can adjust to that but Corona, Talavera and Munoz have a clear advantage in that matter.
B/R: Rogelio Chavez received his first cap. Does he have any chance to take over the starting position?
AB: I believe Paul Aguilar has locked it. Although the Club America footballers are not at their best, Aguilar will have that spot. Chavez could be a great substitute and he has had a great season with Cruz Azul. There's another thing to consider, Miguel Layun can play in the right flank and if Herrera decides to put Guardado on the left, then neither Aguilar nor Chavez will start. That flexibility allows the manager to save one spot on the team.
B/R: The central midfielder is another key position. Jesus Zavala will start tonight. Is he good enough to be the first choice?
AB: Zavala is the new type of midfielder in world football. He is willowy but at the same time strong. The competition will be fierce. Hector Herrera had a great performance against Nigeria, he did really well in that position. Zavala is a very interesting player with a fantastic aerial game but I am not sure if he can start in the World Cup.
B/R: Marco Fabian finally made the team, and he can play in several positions, but can he prove himself in just one game?
AB: He earned his call. His season has been great with Cruz Azul and he is close to being the player we saw during the Summer Olympics. This match will be important precisely because he is a flexible player. The thing is Herrera needs to find the place where Fabian can have better results. With Cruz Azul he plays as left midfielder, like he did in the Olympics, he can be a second striker too but he is not as productive.
B/R: The United States' expertise and structure in other sports has been key for football.
AB: Definitively. The MLS has grown a lot. They used to have one stadium (Columbus Crew) and now they have a lot more. They have put all those efforts and expertise into the national team too. They have a good team of scouters who approach not only the players whose parents were born in the U.S. but also some whose parents were born abroad. The best example for tonight is Julian Green; his mother was born in Germany. They have taken advantage of their cultural diversity.
Who will win tonight?
B/R: We can see this growth at the CONCACAF Champions League, don't you think?
AB: Yes, they have done great things. The Mexican teams don't have it too easy anymore. There's something we need to consider, though. The MLS season has just started and that means they don't have a lot of momentum, still they have good performances in the tournament.
B/R: What's your prediction?
AB: I'd love to say it will be a victory for Mexico, but I think the United States have a better chance.