The United States may not be at full strength against Mexico, which is hardly something you want to say about a team going to Estadio Azteca, but they do have some players of note. Most of them are in the midfield, where Jurgen Klinsmann has called upon Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Danny Williams and Jose Francisco Torres to start. If any group of players in the U.S. team is equipped to handle a superior team like Mexico, it is those four.
Exactly how those four are deployed is still in question. Jones, Beckerman and Williams could play together in a band of three with Torres in front of them as a more attacking player or Torres could split wide and play on the same level as the forwards in more of a 4-3-3. Either way, a lot will be asked of them.
But while Klinsmann may feel good about the midfield, the same can't be true in defense. Geoff Cameron has a great opportunity to impress Klinsmann in central defense, but Maurice Edu is out of position as a central defender. Amazingly, that is the more stable part of the defense. On the outside, Klinsmann has opted to put Fabian Johnson out of position on the right and the defensively-shaky (that is being kind) Edgar Castillo on the left. Considering the quality of attackers they will be charged with defending, that is scary for the Americans.
Up top, Klinsmann has opted for Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez. It is an interesting duo because they will play as a true two-man strike partnership, which is different from the lone-striker teams he tried to implement in earlier matches. That also pushes Terrence Boyd to the bench, who would have likely been the starting striker has Klinsmann opted for a lone striker.
The Mexican lineup is as expected, with Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez up top and Andres Guardado and Pablo Barrera out wide, making up three-quarters of El Tri's regular attacking quartet. Angel Reyna has been tabbed to replace the absent Giovani dos Santos, playing underneath Hernandez and the middle man of the three-man band in Mexico's 4-2-3-1.
Behind those four, Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torres has opted to play Manuel Viniegra alonside Jesus Zavala in the double pivot. That was expected and it is a major opportunity for Viniegra to make an impression on Chepo for a central midfield spot that is very much up for grabs.
If Viniegra and Zavala can control the match, the U.S. will be in trouble. Donovan and Gomez are players who could easily end up stranded alone up top if the American midfield cannot carve out a foothold of their own. While this is not the first choice U.S.team, they are pretty strong in the middle with Jones, Beckerman, Williams and Torres, three players who are all best in the middle and should theoretically at least be able to tackle and keep the ball. If they can't then it will get ugly and quick.
We'll have live coverage in our Mexico vs. USA, 2012 Friendly StoryStream.