American Soccer Team Seeing Red Heading into Matchup with Mexico

American Soccer Team Seeing Red Heading into Matchup with Mexico
Posted on September 09, 2013 by Tim

The U.S. men's national soccer team doesn't have long to lament Friday night's deflating 3-1 loss to Costa Rica in what turned out to be a somewhat sloppy CONCACAF qualifier. After slipping into second place, a point behind the Ticos, the Americans now face a desperate Mexican side that lost at home this weekend to Honduras.

And that means the U.S. needs to focus on taking three points at home. Something good teams must do.

"We wanted three points in Costa Rica," said coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "So now we have to find a way to get those three points on Tuesday night."

Down and Dangerous

Despite heading into Tuesday's (8PM, ESPN) qualifier without star striker Jozy Altidore and two other starters because of yellow-card suspensions, the U.S. is in far better shape than Mexico, which limps into Ohio Crew Stadium perilously close to missing the World Cup for the first time since it was banned from the 1990 tournament for using overage players on a youth national team.

El Tri is currently in fourth place (1-1-5) among the six teams competing in final-round qualifying. The top top three finishers earn trips to Brazil, while the fourth-place finisher is forced into playoff with Oceania regional champion New Zealand.

That would be devastating to the Mexican psyche. Even the thought of potentially having to participate in a a pair of play-in games is an embarrassment for the Mexican team. Don't think their passionate fans aren't irate at the five draws so far this year in CONCACAF play.

The Mexican Football Association certainly realizes it. They fired fired Coach Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torres shortly after the Hondorus loss and replaced him with the man who directed the national team to a Gold medal at the London Olympics last year, Luis Fernando Tena.

"We have to face this with complete responsibility," said Tena, who will be without suspended midfield general Gerardo Torrado. "We have to prepare ourselves mentally and adapt. The team will maintain the same players and the same fundamentals. In three days, we cannot carry out big changes."

The American Bottom Line

The loss of Micheal Bradley during warm-ups (ankle) on Friday was a huge blow for the USMNT. And it was obvious from the start of the game that the Americans were disorganized and confused without their field general controlling the action up top.

Bradley is out again against El Tri, but the Stars and Stripes should benefit from a lesson learned hard against Costa Rica. Expect Klimsmann to shuffle some experience around, possibly slotting Dempsey atop the formation, and dropping potential potent striker Aron "Bacon" Jóhannsson into the starting lineup.

South of the Border

As for Mexico, ability certainly isn't the issue. They have a roster peppered with stars that play in the world's top leagues. The coaching shakeup could provide a much needed spark for El Tri's lackluster habit of tying and losing this year. A win over the U.S. in Columbus could shuffle the deck, putting Mexico back in the conversation and making them a very dangerous side down the qualifying stretch.

Prediction: U.S. 2, Mexico, 0

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