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Sunday, February 8, 2009
Preview: USA vs Mexico
Bob Bradley has chosen his side:
GOALKEEPERS: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan; DEFENDERS: Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Frankie Hejduk, Heath Pearce, Dan Califf, Jonathan Bornstein, Marvell Wynne; MIDFIELDERS: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Clint Dempsey, Jose Francisco Torres, Ricardo Clark, Robbie Rogers; FORWARDS: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Brian Ching, Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies.
This team is not too different from the one that played the last friendly against Mexico in February of last year in Houston. Cherundolo's presence in the back will be missed but homeboy and ageless Hejduk will fit just fine playing against his home crowd at Crew Stadium. Also in, although maybe not in the final 18 are speedster Marvell Wynne, composed Dan Califf and feisty Bornstein. The midfield is where it gets interesting... Out is Bobby Convey to be replaced by an impressive Sacha Kljestan (hat trick versus Sweden). Freddy Adu's lack of minutes on the pitch have meant his temporary replacement by Mexican-American Jose Fransisco Torres (recently chose to play for the US instead of Mexico). This is a brilliant move by Bradley considering Torres' play with Pachuca in the national and international scene. It's also great to have someone in the team understand the inner workings of the Mexican League play. Ricardo Clark is steady at midfield and does the dirty work whilst Robbie Rogers and Michael Bradley (coach's son) inject some youth into the system as well. Up front we have some of the usual suspects with Dempsey as an attacking midfielder/striker in an "enganche" position. Donovan always a must as is Brian Ching's experience. To round things out are American prodigy and recently transferred Jozy Altidore and Sweden league standout Charlie Davies.
As we move closer to gametime more and more of the Spanish media in this country covers the Mexican team. Some, like XM Deportivo's Futbol de Primera program with Andres Cantor, Sammy Sadovnik, Rosa Beatriz Sanchez and Jaime Gallardo are annoyingly, understandably and poignantly on the Mexican side of the balance. Sometimes it makes me wonder... hey, Andres aren't you and Rosa and Sammy Argentinean? Well, such is the market for mainstream latin soccer in the US. It's interesting, however, to point out the scale of meaning of this match. Here in the US, to most, it's just another sports game. To us fans of the sport and of the American team this is the grand Superbowl of them all. In Mexico and to the legions of immigrants already on American soil, this is the biggest game of the year. It shouldn't strike as strange that Blockbuster in Mexico as well as a certain newspaper started circulating voodoo dolls of the US national team to inject certain doom for our players. USsoccer has outdone itself this year in various ways... first is playing in our home base of Columbus. It may not be as cold as we thought a mid-February match would be but considering both teams have players at high latitudes this shouldn't be the determining factor. Instead we have a fortress of american fans in an intimate scenario, mainly colored red, at the stadium of the current MLS Champ--Columbus Crew.
As a wise man once put it: Two teams, both with head coaches, playing the game of football. This should prove to be a great game!