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The USMNT will return to action in an international friendly against Mexico this week
CONCACAF’s two strongest sides are starting to look ahead to this summer’s Gold Cup
Anthony Hudson can stake his claim as the USA continue their search for a manager
The odds for USMNT vs Mexico have been taken from the FanDuel sportsbook. If you bet $5, you can get up to $150 in bonus bets!
This could be a close game but we fancy the Stars and Stripes to come out on top after 90 minutes.
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The United States men’s national team (USMNT) did not have their greatest-ever World Cup in 2022, but their performance in Qatar was still pretty good. Getting out of the group was the primary objective and the USA did just that - without losing a game, no less.
Gregg Berhalter’s side were ultimately outclassed by the Netherlands in the round of 16, but a defeat by the three-time runners-up was to be expected. The USA had their moments in that match too, and they departed the Middle East with their heads held high.
But there has been considerable fallout post-tournament nonetheless. It centers on the young forward Gio Reyna and Berhalter, with the manager critical of the former’s attitude within the camp. Soon after, an incident dating back to 1991 came to light in which Berhalter was accused of assaulting his then-girlfriend, now wife.
The head coach’s contract was up at the end of 2022 anyway, but he was not handed a new one while the matter was investigated. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) concluded that the event had taken place but was an isolated incident, yet it remains to be seen whether or not Berhalter will return as manager. His hopes of a comeback appear to be fading.
Jesse Marsch, Patrick Vieira, and Jim Curtin have all been linked with the position, which is currently being filled on an interim basis by Anthony Hudson. Meanwhile, a victory over Mexico on Wednesday would boost Hudson’s chances of landing the job on a permanent basis.
The USA have a big summer on the horizon - and not just with the Women’s World Cup. The men’s team will take part in CONCACAF Nations League Finals, after which the Gold Cup will start almost immediately. The USMNT and Mexico will be the favorites with the best online sportsbooks in both competitions, hence the significance of this friendly.
While the USA could be pleased with their showing at the World Cup last winter, Mexico were anything but. Having reached the knockout phase in each of the last seven editions, El Tri were eliminated in the group phase after failing to beat either Poland or Argentina. A victory over Saudi Arabia on matchday three was not enough to secure their passage to the round of 16.
As predicted, Tata Martino was sacked on account of his team’s poor performances in Qatar. The new man at the helm is Diego Cocca, who will be tasked with rebuilding the side over the coming months and years.
Cocca is only 51 but he has a wealth of coaching experience throughout Latin America. The Argentine was most recently the head coach of Mexican giants Tigres, before which he had roles at the likes of Rosario Central and Racing Club back home, plus Millonarios in Colombia.
Cocca has managed several sides in Mexico and is familiar with soccer in the country, and many of the players within it. The fact he is not an outsider should help his cause early on, as El Tri target glory in the Nations League and the Gold Cup this summer.
Cocca has only had two games in charge so far, including a 2-2 draw with Jamaica last month. He will look to make the most of this opportunity to get more of his ideas across to those selected in the Mexico roster. And a victory over the USA - even in a friendly - would do no harm to his popularity south of the border.
Wednesday’s fixture comes outside the FIFA window for international matches, the most recent of which was in March. That means clubs were not obliged to release their players for this friendly, so we will not see full-strength sides from either the USMNT or Mexico.
As a consequence, the vast majority of the two squads ply their trade in either MLS or Liga MX. Europe-based Americans such as Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Christian Pulisic have not been called up, while El Tri will have to make do without the likes of Hirving Lozano and Raul Jimenez. Sergino Dest of AC Milan in Serie A has made the cut for the USMNT, though.
The fact that these will in effect be second-string sides makes this match tough to predict. The task for bettors is further complicated by potential experimentation by the two managers.
But Hudson will be determined to lay down a marker as he seeks to strengthen his case to get the job full-time. That, plus home advantage, could push the friendly in the direction of the USMNT, who are not short of experience or quality in spite of the absence of their European contingent. Go for the USA win in this one.
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Teams: USMNT vs Mexico
Location: State Farm Stadium, Arizona, USA
Date and Time: Apr. 19 , 2023, 10.15 p.m. ET
How to Watch: TBS, Telemundo
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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