Saturday, January 24, 2009

U.S.-Mexico World Cup Qualifier

With the U.S. Men's national team getting set for what has become an annual January friendly against Sweden tonight, naturally there is some attenion being paid to a game in a couple of weeks, the first hexagonal qualifier against Mexico in Columbus.

While the U.S. team in camp right now has its share of injuries, particularly among defenders, the Mexico injury list includes some very important players.'s Luis Bueno has a look at the different situations for each side:
In CONCACAF, the latter part of 2008 was a contrast in styles between the top two nations. The U.S. breezed through World Cup qualifying and secured a spot in this year's final Hexagonal round with two games to spare. The Americans were able to use the last two qualifiers as proving ground for their youngsters and untested internationals and finished the year on a high note.

Meanwhile, after losing to Honduras in its sixth and final World Cup qualifying match of '08, Mexico seemingly had bottomed out. On the field at the Estadio OlĂ­mpico in San Pedro Sula, El Tri was a shell of its former self and managed to get into the Hexagonal on goal differential alone.

It seemed impossible the two archrivals would be further apart in early '09 than they were then. But Mexico is slowly unraveling while the Americans are as strong and focused at the start of this year as they have been in any of coach Bob Bradley's previous two years.
The game will be a test for the both sides as each looks to get out to a good start in the 10 game final round of qualifying. With the U.S. looking at World Cup qualifying, Gold Cup play, and Confederations Cup in South Africa, this will be a test year for the U.S. squad. Early success in World Cup qualifying will allow U.S. Coach Bob Bradley to look at other players to help with the tough schedule.

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