There are a lot of reasons why Wednesday's friendly between the United States and Mexico doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. There isn't anything on the line and both teams are shorthanded to some degree. The biggest takeaway from this match will be the millions of dollars that the FMF and USSF will rake in, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything soccer-related of note to keep an eye on.
Both teams have individuals to watch for various reason. But for the United States, there might not be a person more interesting to watch at Estadio Azteca than Terrence Boyd.
The 21-year-old striker, born in Germany to a German mother and American serviceman, came up through the Hertha Berlin academy and was with Hertha and Borussia Dortmund at the senior level, but never was able to crack the first team. His 6'2'' frame and above-average speed were tantalizing, but he was a streaky finisher and made many of the mistakes that one would expect from a young and inexperienced player.
Last season, Boyd began to really make strides and played extremely well for Dortmund's reserve team, but he didn't didn't have a path to the first team. Frustrated with his inability to make the jump to the Westfalenstadion, Boyd left Dortmund for Rapid Vienna this summer.
The Austrian League is an obvious step down from the Bundesliga, but he has stepped in at Rapid and has established himself as the team's starting striker already. If nothing else, Boyd is going to play regularly in Austria and if the early returns are any indication, he's going to play well too. He was nearly unstoppable in the preseason and has scored two goals in Rapid's first four league matches this year.
Now Boyd is hoping to carry that form over to the national team. The U.S. has struggled to find a consistent striker ever since Brian McBride retired and while Jozy Altidore is playing well for AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands, he hasn't carried over that same form to the national team. There is no doubt that Altidore is the first chice striker right now, but he doesn't have it locked up.
Boyd can make a run at Altidore's spot if he continues to play well in Austria and then plays well for the U.S. He has four caps for the Americans already and while he does have a goal, he has shown flashes of strong play. If that strong play gets better with his experience in Austria, it can turn into goals and then there will be a real battle on for the first team striker spot.
The first chance for Boyd to show off his Austrian growth is on Wednesday night. With Altidore not in the team, Boyd should get plenty of opportunities against Mexico and make it clear that he is not just hoping to be called in regularly, but he can start and start soon, even when Altidore is in the team.
The defense is the biggest question mark and will certainly be tested with regularity, but their lack of time together, international experience and general lack of quality makes it almost unfair to judge them based on this match. They are basically being hung out to dry, but that isn't true of Boyd.
Boyd has his chance at the Azteca to really open some eyes. He's done that in Vienna, but in the U.S. he is still viewed as more potential than player. On Wednesday at the Azteca, he can change that.