[MEXICO-USA] The U.S. lineup that takes on Mexico Tuesday in 80 degrees at 7,500 feet above sea level should look similar to the one that survived the Denver snow blizzard for a 1-0 win Costa Rica last Friday. There will be at least one change, a replacement for Jermaine Jones, because the central midfielder suffered a puncture wound in his foot against the Ticos. Fortunately for the Americans, who are for aiming their first ever World Cup qualifying win on Mexican soil, Klinsmann has four options for the central midfield position.
“He is one of our leaders and the way he played against Costa Rica was unbelievable,” said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann of Jones. “The foul about 20 minutes into the game gave him a hole in the ankle that needed to be stitched up at halftime. But he kept going until he couldn’t run anymore. It was an amazing performance.”
Jones lasted till the 83rd minute, when he was replaced with Maurice Edu, the most likely choice to start in place of the 31-year-old American-German Jones, who in 2012 led the USA in minutes played.
“We have players who can step in,” Klinsmann said. “We have Maurice Edu,Kyle Beckerman, Sacha Kljestan, Joe Corona. We have a lot of good players and plenty of options.”
Edu languished on the bench at Stoke City before moving on loan to Turkey’s Bursaspor.
“We had [U.S. assistant coach] Andy Herzog go down to watch Fenerbahçe against Bursaspor two weeks ago and he confirmed that Mo is really back,” Klinsmann said before the Costa Rica game. “He’s sharp, he’s in rhythm. The team is doing very well right now, they’re challenging for a European spot for next season. It’s just great to have him back in rhythm because that first half a year with Stoke just didn’t work out the way we all hoped it would work out.”
Edu, a veteran of the 2010 World Cup with 44 caps, is the most experienced of the options, although Beckerman, a 90th-minute sub on Friday, has 25 caps, most of them under Klinsmann. Kljestan (39 caps) has been slow to win Klinsmann’s confidence but has been thriving for Belgian champion Anderlecht.
The case for 22-year-old Corona: He’s been playing well for well in central midfield for Mexican Torneo Apertura champion Tijuana. Though at sea level, Corona’s Xolos take frequent trips to higher altitude.
In the USA’s 1-0 friendly win over Mexico at Azteca Stadium last August, Corona was a 89th-minute sub. Beckerman played the full 90 in central midfield (alongside Jones) and Edu also went the distance, albeit in central defense.
Whatever the Klinsmann decides on for a Jones replacement, he hinted at Monday’s Mexico City press conference that other changes are unlikely, citing the strong “spirit” of the team that prevailed in the snow against Costa Rica.
“You don’t want to change too much coming out of a very, very good performance from those guys,” said Klinsmann, lauding his team for how well it played on a bad surface. “You want to build on the confidence of this team that fought through those 90 minutes and not make too many changes.
--Michel Orozco Fiscal, whose goal gave the USA its historic 1-0 win over Mexico at Azteca Stadium last year, joined the U.S. camp on the eve of the Mexico-USA qualifier. He gives the USA 24 players in camp. Only 23 players -- three must be keepers -- are allowed to suit up for the game.
-- Mexico left back Jorge Torres Nilo has been cleared to play. Numerous press reports in Mexico stated that the yellow card he picked up in Friday's 2-2 tie with Honduras meant that he was suspended. Mexico's only suspended player is captain Francisco Rodriguez. Mexico coach Chepo de la Torre named goalie Guillermo Ochoa as the new captain.
GOALKEEPERS:Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio, France), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
DEFENDERS:Severo Meza (Monterrey), Jonny Magallon (Leon), Hector Moreno (Espanyol, Spain), Hugo Ayala (Tigres) Diego Reyes (Club America), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres).
MIDFIELDERS:Carlos Salcido (Tigres), Jesus Zavala (Monterrey), Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul), Jesus Molina (Club America), Hector Herrera (Pachuca), Javier Aquino (Villarreal, Spain), Andres Guardado (Valencia, Spain), Angel Reyna (Pachuca), Carlos Pena (Leon).
FORWARDS: Giovani Dos Santos (Real Mallorca, Spain), Javier Hernandez (Man. United, England), Omar Bravo (Atlas), Raul Jimenez (Club America).
GOALKEEPERS:Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS:Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby, Denmark), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco Fiscal (Puebla, Mexico).
MIDFIELDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, Mexico), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma, Italy), Joe Corona (Tijuana, Mexico), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor, Turkey), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)
FORWARDS:Jozy Altidore (AZ, Netherlands), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna, Austria), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham, England), Herculez Gomez (Santos, Mexico), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders).