[USA-MEXICO]U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann is convinced that Mexico will go to the 2014 World Cup. He just wants to extend El Tri's agony with a win in Columbus on Tuesday night that will likely send the USA to the World Cup finals for the seventh straight time.
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The USA's task has been complicated by injuries and suspensions that will deprive Klinsmann of four players he'd have penciled in as starters as recently as two weeks ago: right back Brad Evans, center back Matt Besler, midfielder Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore -- the latter three running right down the spine of the U.S. starting XI.
Klinsmann's task is complicated because no one has managed to step forward this year and hold down the right-back spot like Evans, himself an emergency fill-in, has done, and Geoff Cameron, who has started at right back, center back and holding midfielder in the Hexagonal, all positions needing replacements, is himself suspended.
On top of that, the suspension of Altidore, who has scored in the last five games he's started for the USA, leaves the USA in something less than the impervious mood it was four weeks ago after it came back from 2-0 to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina, 4-3, in Sarajevo.
But that's nothing like the situation facing Mexico, which is coming off a 2-1 loss at home to Honduras on Friday that resulted in the firing of head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre in the middle of the night.
De la Torre's assistant and close friend, Luis Antonio Tena, will coach El Tri Tuesday night, and he says he isn't sure he take the job on a full-time basis if he's offered it. He says he'll have to talk it over with Chepo first.
Only one Mexican is suspended for Tuesday night -- veteran midfielder Gerardo Torrado -- though many Mexican fans will tell you his absence will be addition by subtraction.
But two other potentially key Mexican players aren't with the team as European-based stars Guillermo Ochoa and Carlos Vela refused to be considered for selection.
Ochoa, a goalie with Corsican club Ajaccio, is playing the best soccer of his career since moving to France's Ligue 1, while Vela, one of the architects of Mexico's 5-0 win over the USA in the 2009 Gold Cup, helped Spanish club Real Sociedad qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez and Andres Guardado, who plays in Spain for Valencia, are just returning from injury layoffs. Neither started in the loss to Honduras, but both should be ready to go on Tuesday.
In fourth place in the Hexagonal, Mexico faces the prospect of being all but out of contention for one of the three automatic berths in the World Cup finals if it loses Tuesday night.
Not that Klinsmann is ready to write off El Tri.
“I said it already in the summer, just stay calm and Mexico will get their points,” he said on Monday. “Hopefully, not obviously tomorrow night. But in general, they will get their points, and also if things go wrong for them tomorrow night, they will still get their points. Even if they have to go through the fourth place theoretically, they will qualify for this World Cup. Mexico will go to the World Cup.”
GOALKEEPERS:Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS:DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, Mexico), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana, Mexico), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla, Mexico), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg, Germany)
MIDFIELDERS:Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes, France), Joe Corona (Tijuana, Mexico), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg, Norway), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim, Germany), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04, Germany), Jose Torres (Tigres, Mexico), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ, Netherlands), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders).
Goalkeepers: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jonathan Orozco (Monterrey).
Defenders: Severo Meza (Monterrey), Ricardo Hiram Mier (Monterrey), Francisco Javier Rodriguez (Club America), Diego Reyes (Porto, Portugal), Hector Moreno (Espanyol, Spain), Carlos Salcido (Tigres).
Midfielders:Hector Herrera (Porto, Portugal), Christian Gimenez (Cruz Azul), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres), Jesus Zavala (Monterrey), Fernando Arce (Tijuana), Javier Aquino (Villarreal, Spain), Andres Guardado (Valencia, Spain).
Forwards: Damian Alvarez (Tigres), Oribe Peralta (Santos), Giovani Dos Santos (Villarreal, Spain), Angel Reyna (Veracruz), Javier Hernandez (Man. United, England), Raul Jimenez (Club America).
(Costa Rica-USA field-level highlights:@5:40 Joel Campbell falls down, prompting the referee on the advice of his assistant to award Matt Besler a bogus yellow card.)