RICH FIDLER - Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The United States and Mexico will face off in a crucial World Cup Qualifier tomorrow afternoon at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, a venue that hasn't been kind to the Red, White and Blue over the course of history.

Head coach Bob Bradley and his squad of 20 men embark on a journey this afternoon from their training base of Miami, Florida to the smog induced haze that is Mexico City and its' elevation 7,200 feet above sea level.

The game at altitude will no doubt be a challenge to the men who most recently finished second to Brazil in the FIFA Confederations Cup and have recently started their club seasons after a summer of success.

These two teams faced each other back in February at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio - a game that featured two goals from midfielder Michael Bradley in the American's 2-0 victory. It's a familiar score line that the Mexicans have grown to dislike when playing the United States on their home soil.

Bradley will no doubt rely on a starting eleven that leans heavily on the roster that led him to the Confederations Cup final. Tim Howard will undoubtedly be the starter behind a back four of Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu and possibly Jonathan Spector.

Spector will battle regular first-team right back Steve Cherundolo, who missed South Africa due to injury, but is fully healthy and went the full 90 minutes in Hannover 96's 1-0 defeat over the weekend before flying across the Atlantic.

Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan will start in the midfield. Donovan is a villain to most Mexicans for his goal scoring prowess against their national team, however, the LA Galaxy midfielder has grown to enjoy the pressure of facing their regional rival.

Bradley will start his son and current Borussia Mönchengladbach ace alongside Houston Dynamo's Ricardo Clark - although more offensive minded Benny Feilhaber could see the start depending on Bradley's formation at 4:00pm EST tomorrow.

Up top the team will be lead by Brian Ching, who returned from an injury that kept him out of South Africa to captain the team during the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The second striker will be an intriguing choice for the head coach, either Jozy Altidore who recently joined Hull City on-loan or speedy Sochaux forward Charlie Davies will get the nod.

Mexico will be without their captain and defensive ace Rafa Marquez, who suffered a calf injury during preseason training for his club team Barcelona - although it may not be a humbling loss as Marquez drew a embarrassing red card in their February encounter.

They'll have to rely on a handful of players that lead them to their CONCACAF Gold Cup title last month over the Americans, including young stars Carlos Vela and Giovani Dos Santos.

Mexico's new head coach Javier Aguirre will also be able to rely on four critical components that weren’t available to his successor Sven-Goran Eriksson back in February when they lost to the Americans.

Chivas of Guadalajara defender Jonny Magallon and Deportivo La Coruña midfielder Andres Guardado were both injured. Vela and Cruz Azul midfielder Gerardo Torrado were suspended and Torrado should add some much needed aggression in the midfield.

The United States, who currently sit second in qualifying behind Costa Rica, won't reconvene until early September. They'll travel to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah to face El Salvador on the 5th before heading to Hasley Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain to face Trinidad and Tobago on September 9th.
estudiantes de la plata
Tuesday August 11, 2009 10:02 pm
start ching. i dont know why all the hate. he plays his role well. he distributes much bette rthan giving credit for. he hustles to. we need that against mexico as even our strike force will need to help on defense. i think i give davies nod over altidore for now. i want speed. mexico is fast....
Tuesday August 11, 2009 9:22 pm
Whoever suggested Bornstein and Holden should start the game against Mexico obviously missed the Confeds Cup and the Gold Cup--the most irrational commentary I've heard in a while... No, no no.... Let's be sane here and I'll just tell you what the starting line-up is so we can stop the debate:


Okay. Goodnight...
Tuesday August 11, 2009 7:59 pm
New Mexico has a great soccer following and happens to be quite similiar to Mexico City in altitude and climate. Why not a week in Albuquerque before these matches?
Some Guy sounds like Bob B.
Tuesday August 11, 2009 4:42 pm
Where do some people get this misconception that Ching is an ideal "target" man who can hold the ball up and lay it off for teammates? If you've ever tallied Ching passes versus giveaways on the national team, you'd realize this is a total myth fabricated by the US Soccer media. Ching can hold the ball up decently playing against the Red Bulls or Barbados, but he can't do it against any decent level of competition. In fact, he's particularity poor at it compared to many others on our roster, both statistically and simply using the eyeball test. I'm not saying Cooper or Casey should play, I'm saying lets find some other youngster who can. How many lives does Ching have?

The US doesn't need 11 World class players to play World Class soccer, I hate hearing that, it needs a few of them to shine and others to do their role well. Did Greece have 11 world class players when it won Euros?

We shouldn't emulate Spain or Brazil, we should formulate our own identity, not go back to failed policies that get us beat on the road.
Coach Bradley has the market cornered on what we can't do, let's see what we can do. Seems the young guys did okay against Spain and Brazil, guess who was absent? If we don't believe in these young kids we'll never take the next step, the Chings and Beasleys are yesterdays news, they served a purpose now time to move on and get better. The more time the kids get now, the better we'll be the next few years as they grow on the field, not on the bench.
Some Guy
Tuesday August 11, 2009 4:26 pm
Ching should, and probably will start. He is the best option for the US "style of play". If we need to get the ball to a midfielder, I want Ching to be the one to dish off. Did you see his perfectly weighted pass to Clark in the game Sunday? This happens all the time but people who want the US to play like Brazil or Spain think he is no good.

To play like a world class team, you need at least 11 world class players. Until the time comes when the US can pass the ball up and through another team, we can only counter attack and play target ball, and as such, we need to start Ching.
Tuesday August 11, 2009 1:29 pm
I'm glad that (most of) you have seen what Ching truly is, and for that, I thank you. Those who think that it would be better to have a speedster like Davies paired with the "workhorse" Ching don't realize why Davies wasn't completely covered in the Confed Cup. They were marking Altidore! That he has not yet learned to overcome such defense as that shown by Italy and Brazil is understandable at his age, but he worries them. He can Score, and so Davies has some room to operate. And when they forget about him, Spain.

Ching CANNOT score, HAS not, and is not long for this national team. (Once Bob is gone, and if they don't go stupid and hire Kinnear).

I wouldn't start Bornstein, I think our defense will most likely stay at home. They handled Robinho, they should be able to deal with Dos Santos. Bornstein defensive substitute and fresh legs.

Let's go out there with the lineup that got us success in the Confed Cup, except with Feilhaber for Clark, who has been playing a lot of matches lately, and we don't have a defensive midfielder on the bench for if we take a lead. We need to kill Mexico's defense, murder it. That's the only way we get the win. Excited about Holden and Torres getting in there, hope they do.

Let's do this.
Tuesday August 11, 2009 12:30 pm
Tuesday - I dont understand how you can criticize Bradley's coaching decisions followed by advocating team captain Bocanegra not be in the starting lineup and expect to be taken seriouslly. Im not trying to defend Bradley but Bocanegra is US captain and a 90 minute player for both club and country for a reason, barring injury he gets the start.
Tuesday August 11, 2009 12:25 pm
I have to admit, I started typing this response in complete agreement with Todd. Ching over Altidore or Davies? Are you out of your ever-lovin' minds?!?

But then, I started thinking about it. Ching does a pretty good job of holding up the ball and laying off to his teammates. He's also a workhorse who gives everything he's got - limited though that may be - the whole time he's out on the field. That, plus his more natural "target" status as a forward might just give him a SLIGHT edge over Jozy for this game (and this game only).

But it HAS to be for Jozy, not Davies...and, if it were me, I'd only run him for the first half, and I'd tell both he and Jozy that going in. At halftime, I'd sub out Jozy for Ching, and Benny for Davies, and move Deuce up front. Yes...REGARDLESS of the score at the time (remember Brazil?).

This is an intriguing game, and I think we'll get a decent idea of just how this team will do next year by watching this one. If we're going to be a threat to do more than just squeak out of the group stage, we need to be able to win games like this in TOUGH environments. I have no doubt this team CAN do it. The question is...will they?
Tuesday August 11, 2009 12:24 pm
I'm assuming Rich is just speculating on the starting 11 here. I highly doubt he heard this from Bradley.

My thoughts are if it ain't broke don't fix it. Play the guys that got you to the Confederations Cup Final. Ching to me is more valuable as a sub late in the match, with his work ethic and ability to hold the ball. I think we need to come out and attack Mexico with our speediest squad, so Jozy and Davies should start up front. I'd like to see Bradley and Feilhaber start in the middle but I believe Clark and Bradley are needed in this match away from home. Finally the backline that beat Spain should play tomorrow. I believe Spector is now a better player than Cherundolo.
Tuesday August 11, 2009 12:09 pm
i too cannot believe bradley is starting he works hard that's cause he can't do anything else.go with davies/altidore or throw dempsey up top with davies/altidore and save one as a sub.bring in benny or torres to fill the open midfield spot.
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