This article is half of a B/R Creature vs. Creature series detailing the Mexico-USA match on August 12th. To read Eric Gomez' countering article, click here.
t's time for Team USA to get the monkey off its back.
Well, I guess it's not really a monkey. It's more like 105,000 screaming Mexicans, thin air, and the weight of 0-22-1.
Calling it a monkey makes it seem more manageable.
The time has finally come for the US to end Mexico's complete dominance at the fortress they call Estadio Azteca and bring home three points. It's time to end decades of futility south of the border and finally get a meaningful result when it matters most.
Oh yeah, there's also the added dimension of knowing that victory on Wednesday would put Mexico's World Cup dreams on life support, with one foot in the grave.
How's that for motivation, Team America?
For this Creature vs. Creature, I'm taking a different approach. Sure, I still plan on telling my colleague Eric Gomez why he's dead wrong about this match, but I'm not going to just spout off a laundry list of reasons why. It's the U.S. versus Mexico, point-counterpoint style.
Mexico just beat the US 5-0, they've got all the momentum and confidence.
That's such a tired argument. Chad Marshall, Brian Ching and Stu Holden are the only three leftovers from that roster filled with international rookies. Not one of those men is even likely to start the match. The team that Mexico faces on Wednesday will be a completely different animal.
If the USA was playing with a "B" team in the Gold Cup final, so was Mexico.
Not so. Bob Bradley only selected three players from his GC final roster for the World Cup Qualifier, while Javier Aguirre has selected 12. Looks like Mexico was fielding a much stronger side in the Gold Cup.
The USA can talk about how great their Confederations Cup squad was all they like—Giovani Dos Santos will still run rings around their defense.
How, pray tell, did Dos Santos perform the last time he saw the first choice U.S. defense, back in February? Oh that's right, he was a complete non-factor. And to add further insult, that was just the first choice group until Bradley stumbled upon a better combination in South Africa. Dos Santos hasn't yet had a taste of the back line that stopped Spain in their tracks.
Remember, this is the same Dos Santos that couldn't hack it at Tottenham last season. Are we really expected to believe that he's suddenly gained the ability to knife through a good defense at will?
Fine, if not Gio than some combination of Mexico's impressive talent should be more than enough to subdue the US.
Would this be the same collection of talent that almost missed out on the final round of CONCACAF qualifying? The same group that, if qualification ended today, would have to win a playoff in order to punch their ticket to South Africa?
You can have all the talent in the world, but it won't mean anything if your team isn't playing well together. Mexico has looked like anything but a great squad in their most recent World Cup qualifying action.
OK, maybe Mexico won't be able to run rampant on offense, but neither will the U.S.
If Bob Bradley learned anything from the Confederations Cup—and I sincerely hope that he did—it's that the U.S. is at their best when they field an aggressive lineup capable of attacking.
Davies and Altidore up front, supported by Dempsey, Donovan, Bradley, and another central midfielder to be named later. Hopefully somebody with good ball-handling skills, like Freddy Adu or Jose Francisco Torres. Even Stu Holden would be a decent option.
The 3-0 victory over Egypt was no fluke, and neither were the two goals they scored against Spain. Only an aggressive team is capable of capitalizing on those opportunities.
Even if they have the attacking talent on the roster, being aggressive just isn't Bob Bradley's game.
It isn't his first choice, but he'll do it when he's backed into a wall. While three points would probably be more valuable to Mexico than the U.S. at this point, a loss would still be very damaging to the Americans. Bradley knows this and the players know this. They'll be aggressive out of necessity.
The altitude will cause a problem.
Probably, yeah. But these guys are professionals. I would hope that they've been training for that.
The smog will cause a problem.
I don't see this as an advantage, unless Mexico trains while chain smoking Marlboro Reds.
The crowd will cause a problem.
Only if their batteries fly straight and true.
Estadio Azteca is a hostile environment, but the US knows what to expect at this point. Every country in CONCACAF has crowds that are hostile to the US. If Team America hasn't mentally prepared themselves for the noise and taunts, then they probably won't bother to show up.
History is on Mexico's side.
History means nothing in these matchups, and Javier Aguirre would agree. You can even throw out recent form, which is probably good news for the Mexicans. Fact is, both teams always raise their game to a higher level when they meet. It's a big rivalry.
Even when one side is a little down in the standings, you still get a highly competitive fixture 99 percent of the time because these sides know each other so well and want to beat each other so badly.
That's just a cop-out. Give us a prediction, you pillock!
Fine, it's time for the U.S. to end their run of awful luck at the Azteca. They've got a group of players more than capable of beating Mexico in Mexico, and I think they're finally going to pull through.
Team America 2-1 Mexico.
Pardon my Spanglish, but...
Una cosa me da risa...a loss at home for Mexico!