Another edition of the CONCACAF Clasico is here. This one takes place at the Azteca for Mexico’s final World Cup Qualifier before the Confederations Cup. To get to know the USMNT, we reached out to Nick from Stars and Stripes FC. He answered a few questions we had before Sunday’s big game.
- What Mexico player strikes fear into the USMNT Fan Base?
Rafael Marquez, no question the man just refuses to go away, even at 38 years old he seems to always cause problems for the USMNT. He scored the winner in Columbus, the last time these two teams met late last year. Sure there are younger more talented players on this Mexican team but there’s just something about Marquez that gives me and many other USMNT a bad feeling.
2. Will Bruce Arena come out and look for a draw or try to go toe to toe with El Tri?
Bruce Arena’s strategy will largely depend on what happens Thursday night against T&T. If the U.S. take 3 points Thursday night I imagine Bruce will set his guys loose looking for 3 more points Sunday at the Azteca. The USMNT is plenty capable at this juncture in time of going head to head with Mexico without any fears of being over matched. But…. I don’t think its lost on any USMNT fan or player for that matter just how tough it is to play at the Azteca. Because that is the case if I had to choose Bruce’s tactics without any knowledge of what the results will be Thursday against T&T I would say Bruce will have his guys sit back and look to counter taking 1 point will be the objective.
3. Many are saying the player pool is lacking players in their prime and still relying on the older generation, what are your thoughts on that?
The current USMNT player pool is deeper than it has ever been. However, there are many of those who believe the senior team are relying too heavily on older players and to a small degree, I can agree with that. For those who don’t know Bruce Arena very well, he’s extremely loyal to his players, loyal to a fault. That is why he was fired after the 2006 World Cup: for bringing in too many players past their prime. Bruce has learned from his mistakes and this time around is bringing plenty of fresh faces into the senior team. Some of the older players like Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey are still around because they bring the most to their respective positions on the field. There is much debate over Michael Bradley’s place in this team and I lean to the side wishing to see him on the bench. However, I do not believe the entirety of the USMNT suffers from relying on older players. There are plenty of fresh faces in the senior team and the future is bright.
4. Who is the most important player for the US and why is it an 18 year old from Hershey?
The most important player for the USMNT is obviously Pulisic. He is the best player on the field anytime the USMNT faces another CONCACAF side. Pulisic is the most dangerous attacking player the U.S. has had since Landon Donovan. He can score and create opportunities better than anyone currently in this player pool. It is still early in his career and a lot of things can happen but Pulisic certainly has the potential to be the best to ever wear the Red, White and Blue when his playing days are over.
5. Going into another busy year of international soccer for the US, what can they accomplish before 2017 is up? Will they struggle during WCQ? Is the Gold Cup must win?
Before 2017 is up I fully expect the USMNT to have qualified for the World Cup, with a top 3 spot in the Hexagonal. Bruce Arena will do what he was brought in to do and that is right the ship and qualify for Russia in 2018. The Gold Cup this summer however is a different story I personally would like to see Arena use the Gold Cup as an opportunity to test out younger players and see if they can contribute in 2018. With Mexico playing in the Confederations Cup this summer, they will be sending a B/C team to the Gold Cup. Which in turn allows the USMNT to treat this tournament like a try-out for its younger players.
Score Prediction: 2-1 USA Wins
I believe the U.S. will be out for revenge after what happened in Columbus this past Fall.
Thanks to Nick for the intel and make sure you head over to Stars and Stripes FC if you want to follow CONCACAF’s 2nd most decorated Men’s team