Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Interim US National Team head coach Bob Bradley will face a pivotal challenge on Wednesday with a "friendly" visit to Phoenix by regional rivals Mexico.
New Mexico head coach Hugo Sanchez has pulled out all the stops in calling up his best players in an effort to start his era off with a milestone Clásico victory.
Defender Ricardo Osorio and midfielder Pavel Pardo have come from VfB Stuttgart, defender Carlos Salcido has answered the call from PSV Eindhoven, center back Rafa Márquez makes the trip from FC Barcelona and new midfielder Nery Castillo has signed up from Olympiakos.
Dual citizen Castillo previously debated the merits of joining Uruguay, but an appearance on Wednesday will cap tie him to El Tricolor.
Mexican fan favorites Omar Bravo, Bofo Bautista and Kikín Fonseca, in addition to volatile veterans Jared Borgetti and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, will round out the forward pool.
Two Mexico up-and-comers have also been selected by Sanchez: midfielder Andrés Guardado from Atlas and back-up goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa from Club América.
In opposition, Bob Bradley has taken the relatively risky step of selecting a young crew of predominantly MLS-based players.
Of the 20 players available to Bradley on Wednesday, ten have been capped five times or less and only four will be making the journey from across the Atlantic.
Veterans Landon Donovan, Pablo Mastroeni, Carlos Bocanegra and Bobby Convey will be relied upon to guide the team.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard, on loan from Manchester United to Everton this season, will most likely take up residence between the US posts, while new Fulham capture Clint Dempsey will be expected to provide a creative spark in midfield.
Eddie Johnson, Chris Rolfe and Taylor Twellman round out the US forward pool, while defenders Bobby Boswell and Jimmy Conrad will be called upon to strengthen the back line.
Bradley has selected two rising stars: Ricardo Clark from the Houston Dynamo and Justin Mapp from the Chicago Fire.
While the result of this match may not immediately impact the interim label hanging over coach Bradley's head, the game will definitely provide insight for what the US will face this summer in the Copa América and Gold Cup tournaments.
The two nations have previously met on 51 occasions, of which the US has won 12, lost 29 and drawn 10.
Since 2000, however, the US has defeated El Tri on seven of ten occasions, with only two losses.
The US is 6-0-1 in recent history against Mexico on American soil, with El Tri unable to find the back of the net in those seven meetings.
USMNT game squad
Cannon, Joe Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Howard, Tim Everton (England)
Albright, Chris Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Bocanegra, Carlos Fulham (England)
Bornstein, Jonathan CD Chivas (MLS)
Boswell, Bobby DC United (MLS)
Conrad, Jimmy Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
Namoff, Bryan DC United (MLS)
Robinson, Eddie Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Carroll, Brian DC United (MLS)
Clark, Ricardo Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Convey, Bobby Reading (England)
Dempsey, Clint Fulham (England)
Donovan, Landon Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Gros, Josh DC United (MLS)
Mapp, Justin Chicago Fire (MLS)
Mastroeni, Pablo Colorado Rapids (MLS)
Johnson, Eddie Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
Rolfe, Chris Chicago Fire (MLS)
Twellman, Taylor New England Revolution (MLS)