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Few games, if any, are bigger in the Concacaf region than a World Cup qualifier between the United States and Mexico.
Both sitting on the top of the Octagonal table, no teams are more illustrious or dominant in the North American soccer scene than the two that will be facing off this Friday.
For the U.S. men’s national team, there will be a redemption of sorts after showing some early signs of World Cup qualifying problems with inconsistent performances.
Although they’re currently 2nd in the Octagonal table, a loss to Panama and draws against El Salvador and Canada have undermined the progress they seemed to be making in 2021.
As for Mexico, they’ll be seeking some revenge.
After losing to the USMNT twice in the summer, they’ll now be heading into this one with plenty of motivation and more momentum than their opponents.
Things are clicking at the right time for Mexico, who will also have their star player fully fit and ready to take charge.
Pick Mexico for the win (+145)
They’ve won half of their World Cup qualifiers so far and only have four goals allowed in six games, and yet, there is reason to worry about the United States this week.
The USMNT have struggled against inferior opponents and even seem to have issues at home.
Outside of a straightforward three points against Jamaica in a 2-0 victory, the United States have stumbled through a 1-1 draw with Canada and a narrow 2-1 win over Costa Rica that initially had them down 1-0 by the 1st minute.
Manager Gregg Berhalter at times seems to have tinkered too much with his approach.
In what seems to be the signs of a coach who is overthinking things, Berhalter has occasionally made strange alterations or tactical decisions during the World Cup qualifiers.
And unfortunately for him, his best player may not be 100% fit on Friday.
A couple weeks back, there were no guarantees that the USMNT’s Christian Pulisic would be ready in time for this month’s game against Mexico.
Recently back from injury, the Chelsea player hasn’t had a full start for his club side since August.
If Berhalter decides to throw on his best player into the XI against Mexico, it would undoubtedly be a risk after also stating this week that he would prioritize his health first.
Either way, the American game-changer will not be at the top of his abilities in a crucial World Cup qualifier.
As for Mexico, their top talent will be cruising through on good form.
Whether it be for club or country, Raul Jimenez has been dearly missed up top for his teams.
Following a lengthy injury, the striker has looked back to his old self in the last few months for Mexico and also for Wolves in the English Premier League.
Jimenez has two goals and two assists in his last six appearances for Wolves, and as for Mexico, he scored in the latest World Cup qualifying win over El Salvador.
It’s excellent news for Mexico, especially when you consider that they’ve been the most impressive side so far in the Octagonal.
The United States may have the Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League titles, but in World Cup qualifying, no team in the region has been better than Mexico.
No national sides have allowed fewer goals than Mexico, and in the attack, only Canada have reached the 10-goal tally that Mexico have amassed so far.
Things are only getting better in their latest World Cup qualifiers as well.
Mexico have five goals scored with zero allowed in their last two World Cup qualifiers.
Their xG (expected goals) numbers speak for themselves too.
Through six matches, Mexico are averaging an xG of 2.05 while their opponents are so far only averaging a total of 0.59 against them.
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|USA vs Mexico Information
|USA vs Mexico
|TQL Stadium (Cincinnati, Ohio)
|Friday, November 12th at 6:10 pm PT/9:10 pm ET
|How to Watch
|ESPN 2, Univision, TUDN
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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