PSP is not a particularly political website. Certainly, the views and personalities of its writers show through from time to time, but the only agenda here is advocating for a positive soccer culture in Philadelphia in an inclusive-as-possible way. So, most days, the goings-on of the American political apparatus have little effect on what we write. But it would be naive to ignore the fact that the events of Tuesday’s presidential election make an already meaningful game against Mexico, one of our closest national neighbors and bitterest soccer rival, even more fraught. Regardless of your views on Donald Trump and his statements on Mexico and Mexicans, his win on Tuesday raises the game’s tension higher than it already was, and makes the normally straightforward act of rooting for the US to win—usually one of the safest ways to display national pride—more complicated for many.
Luckily, the players should have no such worries—they need only focus on doing their job…and a Mexican team motivated by some pretty serious “bulletin board material.”
Familiar faces and returnees
This roster is familiar, and full of experienced heads. Clearly, the time for experimentation is past, and now Klinsmann wants his most trusted players at hand. That said, while the only truly fresh face is Cameron Carter-Vickers, there is still some youth, specifically attackers Christian Pulisic and Julian Green. Of Pulisic, Klinsmann recently called his potential “limitless,” and it’s getting hard to argue. Also included again is Lynden Gooch. Newly minted MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris was called up, but has since withdrawn due to a minor hamstring injury, and been been replaced by the decidedly not young Alan Gordon.
A handful of names are back after time away, most excitingly Aron Johannsson. It wasn’t so long ago that ArJo seemed like the most talented striker in the pool, before a string of injuries seriously interrupted his progress. It’s unlikely he’ll see much time right away, but the prospect of a fully firing Johannsson is enticing. Somewhat less enticing is the return of Timmy Chandler. Chandler is in excellent form for his club, Eintracht Frankfurt, but has always been mediocre at best for the US. Fingers crossed he can bring some of his club form to Columbus.
Perhaps the two most important US players, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, happen to be perhaps the two most in-form players, currently demolishing the MLS playoffs, along with their teammate Sebastian Giovinco. Altidore is in perhaps the best goalscoring stretch of his entire career, and Bradley is in a dominant groove, dictating games from the base of midfield. It couldn’t come at a better time. It’s not ideal for MLS to have it’s playoffs interrupted by international games, but it might be working out perfectly for the US team.
The Mexican squad is full of heavy hitters, including the erstwhile Carlos Vela. Most of the team plays in Europe, but one key man, Giovani Dos Santos, just contributed to a humbling LA Galaxy playoff exit with a poor penalty kick. Hopefully, that bad luck continues for him. Also in the squad is the ageless and endlessly annoying Rafa Marquez.
Columbus is the home of Dos a Cero, four times over. Mexico has lost by that scoreline all four times the two teams have met there, so it’s bound to happen again, right? Not so fast. This is a tough Mexican team that will be very amped to take the game to the US, so while I see a US win, it will be a bit narrower than 2–0: USMNT 1–0 Mexico.