Welcome to the one month out of 48 in which friendlies actually mean something.
These exhibition matches are the only things standing between 32 teams and the 2014 World Cup. Now is the time for coaches to figure out their best lineups and get the players up to match fitness.
Mexico and Bosnia and Herzegovina are two countries in such a position, and they meet on Tuesday night in Chicago.
El Tri will be hoping to build momentum ahead of what will be a tough group in Brazil, while the Dragons will want to assert themselves as the second-best team in Group F.
The four players below are trying to either lock down starting spots or position themselves for a big World Cup.
Marco Fabian, Mexico
The injury to Luis Montes was not only hard to watch, but it also robbed Mexico of one of their best attacking midfielders. As a result, coach Miguel Herrera is left to go back to the drawing board to find a new CAM.
With a strong showing on Tuesday, Marco Fabian could work his way into the starting XI. The Cruz Azul midfielder scored after coming on for the injured Montes against Ecuador on Saturday.
ESPN FC's Tom Marshall thinks that Fabian's set of skills may be too tough for Herrera to overlook:
When Fabian is in this kind of mood, he is a joy to watch and Mexico doesn't really have anyone who can match him in terms of producing moments of magic, perhaps with the exception of Giovani Dos Santos.
A visibly upset Miguel Herrera was downbeat in his press conference, but he did have a few positive words about Fabian, saying the player is doing exactly what is asked of him and lauding his talent, especially his ability to score from distance.
Tuesday's friendly will be a great showcase for Montes' potential replacement, and Fabian could put himself in pole position.
Alfredo Talavera, Mexico
Jose de Jesus Corona suffered an injury scare against Israel last Wednesday and had to be carted off. Fortunately, the injury that Corona incurred wasn't bad enough to be considered serious, per Fox Soccer:
Just as the door opened for Fabian, so it has for Alfredo Talavera. Marshall reported that the Toluca goalkeeper will start against Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Some would consider Guillermo Ochoa higher up in the pecking order, but consistency has been an issue with Ochoa in the past. He is far from untouchable.
Although Corona will almost certainly take over when he's healthy, Talavera could make this an interesting discussion if he puts on a great performance on Tuesday.
Muhamed Besic, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Muhamed Besic has rapidly asserted himself as one of the most pivotal players for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The strength of the team is in their attack. The trio of Edin Dzeko, Vedad Ibisevic and Miralem Pjanic can keep the Dragons competitive against most teams.
What can happen, though, is that Bosnia and Herzegovina are so attack-minded that it can leave their weak defence horribly exposed.
That's where Besic has come in. He's the defensive midfielder who can act as cover for the back four and break up the opposition's attacks before they get going.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have long needed somebody to be the linchpin in midfield, so Besic's emergence couldn't come at a better time.
Coach Safet Susic was succinct with his praise of the 21-year-old when he said, "Besic is a player that can be counted on for a long time," per BHDragons.com.
Sejad Salihovic, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Sejad Salihovic is a veritable Swiss Army knife for Susic. He's been deployed as a defensive midfielder, left-back and even a winger in the past.
With Besic's strong play in midfield, Salihovic has been pushed out the left and defended more often in recent weeks and months.
Although it was a change of pace early on, the 29-year-old admitted that, "I've got used to playing there," per Tobias Schachter of Bundesliga.com.
Whether is at left-back, defensive mid or on the left wing, Salihovic will have a big role to play in Bosnia and Herzegovina's success in Brazil. His defensive strength will also come in handy to prevent the Dragons from getting overrun by skilled attacking teams.
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