The main things to say about these rosters is that José Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre has chosen a much more experienced squad than his counterpart Jurgen Klinsmann. This is by far the most experimental roster named by the German, whereas Chepo couldn’t select any of the players who just won gold in the London Olympics.
Something to remember about these national team roster announcements is that the position a player is listed under means little. For instance, Adrian Aldrete is listed as a midfielder but he plays primarily as a defender. On the U.S. side, DaMarcus Beasley is listed as a midfielder but he will play as a winger in Klinsmann’s 4-3-3 system.
It will be interesting to see if Mexico line up in their now trademark 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders, advanced wingers, and an attacking midfielder that pops up in open spaces all over the field. Without Gio dos Santos or Marco Fabian to play that trequarista role, it is anybody’s guess who plays in the hole for this game. Chicharito did play there against Guyana in the most recent set of World Cup Qualifiers, but to little success. In the last year, Angel Reyna has started centrally almost as many time as he’s started on the wings. Reyna could fill in that role, but so could Edgar Lugo.
Zavala will start as one of the holding midfielders but his partner Carlos Salcido played in the Olympics. Guardado and Barrera should start as the wingers for Mexico and look to constantly apply pressure to an inexperienced American back four. As for Mexico’s defense, it should be the same players who started their recent qualifying matches.
Mexico’s 18 man roster includes 13 domestically based players.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alfredo Talavera (Toluca) [is 29 years old, has 9 senior caps], Guillermo Ochoa (AC Ajaccio, France) [27 year old, 49 senior caps] =58 caps total
DEFENDERS (6): Francisco Javier Rodriguez (VfB Stuttgart, Germany) [30, 70], Hector Moreno (RCD Espanyol, Spain) [24, 34], Severo Meza (Monterrey) [26, 5], Hugo Ayala (Tigres UANL) [25, 6], Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres UANL) [24, 23], Enrique Perez (Morelia) [23, 1] =139 caps (69 without Maza)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Jesus Zavala (Monterrey) [25, 13], Manuel Viniegra (Tigres UANL) [24, 0], Edgar Lugo (Santos Laguna) [27, 3], Adrian Aldrete (Club America) [24, 8], Pablo Barrera (Cruz Azul) [25, 49], Andres Guardado (Valencia C.F., Spain) [25, 82], Angel Reyna (Monterrey) [27, 13] =168 caps (86 without Guardado)
FORWARDS (3): Aldo de Nigris (Monterrey) [29, 18], Javier Hernandez (Manchester United) [24, 38], Elias Hernandez (Tigres UANL) [23, 7] =63 caps (25 without Chicharito)
Mexico’s starting 11 could look a lot like this:
The U.S. team is more of a tryout than anything else. Only three players in the squad have more than 37 caps for the senior national team (Howard, Donovan and Beasley). If Klinsmann sticks with his 4-3-3 formation, look for Donovan and Beasley to start as the wide forwards. Donovan is the main threat for the U.S. with the exclusion of Clint Dempsey and Beasley, when healthy, has been a man on fire playing club football down in Mexico. It’s a toss up as to who will start up top among Wondolowski, Gomez and Terrence Boyd.
San Jose defender Steven Beitashour should get the nod at right back. Orozco Fiscal can play, and has played this calendar year, as a center back, left back, right back, and sweeper. Because of this versatility, Klinsmann may keep him on the bench as a utility substitute for the defense. Besler could then partner recent Stoke City signing Geoff Cameron in central defense while Johnson battles Castillo for the starting spot at left back.
Klinsmann has shown that he likes to play at least two defensive minded midfielders. With Michael Bradley left in Rome to settle into his new club, any two of Beckerman, Edu and Jones should start. That leaves one midfield slot left for a creative attacking player. Based on experience, I’d say Jose Francisco Torres starts and Joe Corona is a replacement option off the bench.
The U.S.’s 23 man roster includes 10 domestically based players.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim Howard (Everton) [is 33 years old, has 78 caps], Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire) [23, 2], Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) [33, 6] =86 caps
DEFENDERS (6): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) [25, 0], Steven Beithashour (San Jose Earthquakes) [25, 0], Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) [27, 5], Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana) [25, 6], Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis) [26, 4], Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim) [24, 6] =21 caps (15 without Castillo or Johnson)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla) [30, 96], Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) [30, 21], Joe Corona (Club Tijuana) [22, 1], Maurice Edu (Rangers) [26, 37], Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04) [30, 21], Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca) [24, 18], Brek Shea (FC Dallas) [22, 12], Danny Williams (Hoffenheim) [23, 5], Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) [25, 2] =213 caps (117 without Beasley)
FORWARDS (4): Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna) [21, 4], Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) [30, 143], Herculez Gomez (Santos) [30, 13], Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) [29, 8] Alan Gordon [30, 0] =168 caps (25 without Donovan)
I think the starting 11 for the U.S. will look like this.
Based solely on the international experience of the players selected, Mexico is a clear favorite for this match being played at Estadio Azteca. However, the grit and determination of MLS players along with Alan Gordon’s penchant for late game heroics, the match might not be as easy for Mexico as their pundits have been saying.