USMNT vs. Mexico, never really a friendly

The USMNT is ready for his first and only matchup against Mexico in 2018 and these matchups are never really friendlies, despite the official classification. Both teams are bringing in many new players but despite the new faces, the rivalry remains strong. 


Brian Sciaretta


September 10, 2018

3:30 PM

AFTER A loss to Brazil on Friday in New Jersey, the United States national team is now in Nashville to take on archrival Mexico who is also coming off a convincing 4-1 loss to Uruguay. The game is billed as a friendly but games between these two countries are always tense.

The roster was once at 25 players but John Brooks and Paul Arriola returned to their clubs after the game against Brazil and Sebastian Lletget was ruled out earlier in camp due to an injury. So there are now 22 players left to take on Mexico.

“I think it is important for this group of players to step on the field and understand when you play a team like Mexico, it’s a team they’re likely to face moving forward in the next calendar year and beyond,” Sarachan told the media on Monday. “It becomes a little more personal.”

Changes expected

Sarachan discussed the rivalry but was also quick to point out that this will be the first taste of the rivalry for many of the players on both the United States and Mexico. Many have taken part at the youth levels but for a lot of players, the level of a first team friendly is a completely different level of intensity.

And with Mexico also losing on Friday, both teams will be looking to pick up a victory to end the international break. Sarachan said to expected up to six changes to the roster.

“We are going to make changes for tomorrow. It’s important that we get a look at some new faces. You can expect four to five, maybe six changes,” Sarachan said. “They’re likely to bring in new faces. We’re likely to bring in new faces.”

To add to the rivalry, one of the players on Mexico’s roster is Jonathan Gonzalez who was a standout with U.S. youth national teams before abruptly leaving to play for Mexico in January. The California native, who is a defensive midfielder by trade, has started all eight games of the Apertura for Monterrey – one of the best teams in Mexico. 

Improving from Brazil

Sarachan added that against Mexico, he wants to see the team be more creative and attack oriented as opposed to when it played against a much strong Brazil team.

“I think few things we talked about and hope to improve upon is having the game a little bit more on our terms,” Sarachan said. “By that I mean in terms of a little more possession, a little more quality when we have the ball, a little more imagination, a little more creativity when we get into good spots moving forward.”

Sarachan later added: “In terms of movement off the ball, when we do look to step in and apply pressure, it has to be more of a collective effort as opposed to individuals on their own because what happens is that space opens up for teams that are good with the ball and they can pick you apart a little bit.”

“I thought we were pretty good with that against Brazil but could improve.”

Possible Lineup

At the start of camp, the U.S. roster was thin on wingers. Arriola’s departure makes it even harder for the U.S. to play from a wide position.

It was somewhat surprising that Sarachan did not play with three central defenders and two wing backs against Brazil given that formation’s success against France in June. It seems even more likely against Mexico given that fullbacks Yedlin and Robinson are the best attacking options up the wing on the roster and Tim Parker, Matt Miazga, and Cameron-Carter Vickers were the starting central defenders against France and are on the roster.

Here is one strong lineup the U.S. team could use that would reflect five changes to the starting lineup from the Brazil friendly

Goalkeeper: Steffen
Right wingback: Yedlin
Central defender: Parker
Central defender: Miazga
Central defender: Carter-Vickers
Left wingback: Robinson
Midfielder: Adams
Midfielder: McKennie
Midfielder: Acosta
Midfielder: Roldan
Forward: Weah