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Preview – USA & Mexico – The CONCACAF Representation At The FIFA World Cup 2014

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USA and Mexico - CONCACAF

                                USA and Mexico, two countries who need good performances to cement their reputation

It’s been far too long since USA and Mexico have impressed at the World cup finals. Will we finally be able to see them living up to their potential? All we know at this moment and time is that if these teams perform on par with the others, the world cup will be a lot more than a trip to Brazil for their respective fans and will hold more interest for the neutrals.

With the World cup just a few days away, it will be interesting to see whether the two North American giants USA and Mexico put up a fight, surprise everyone and finally show what their always exciting and promising squads consisting of many young and talented players is capable of. We haven’t had any such team come up and fight against the best of the best in the recent past.

When will this change and what impact this could have on World Football.

The fans of these respective countries would be the first ones to hope that this changes in over a month’s time. Having said that, as neutrals, everyone wants to see the so called small teams challenge the bigger teams in the World Cup so that each game is an end to end affair. The United States of America and the Mexico national team have always had players who have impressed as far as club football and domestic tournaments are concerned.

But on the International stage, they haven’t been able to showcase their talents in a way that they’re often expected to. A part of this is down to the competitiveness in both the country’s leagues which was questioned in the past but has improved a lot over time. On a positive note, Mexico have continued to establish their legacy of producing exciting young prospects who’ve later went on to make a name for themselves and Mexico itself in Europe.

Now, after a long wait, both these teams have a blend of youth and experience in their world cup squads. Both countries are in probably the toughest groups available and are expected to go out in the first round itself. Everything taken into consideration including the managers’ tactics, players available and the players’ experience, they have an outside chance of progressing in this tournament if everything clicks into place.

An impressive performance in Brazil by both these teams could lead to many of their players coming in the limelight which could determine many transfers after the tournament ends. A success at the world cup finals would further give a boost to both the countries and their’ football bodies and encourage them to invest more and more money into their respective national team set-ups to improve and possibly build on it.

United States of America

USA's World cup team
                                                     Jurgen Klinnsmann has molded the United States team into a solid team

USA remain the only CONCACAF team to achieve the highest position in a World Cup (3rd). They come to Brazil on the back of an excellent qualifying campaign having scored the most goals in their group (15). They certainly are a team who can surprise quite a few and do well in Brazil.

Managed by a man who has a surprise up his sleeve every now and then, USA have adapted to Klinsmann’s methods very well. The 1994 hosts came closest in 2002 when they were knocked out by Germany in the quarters. They lie 3rd in terms of quality in the group of death which consists of Germany, Portugal and Ghana.

USA will again depend on their top experienced performers in Tim Howard, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. They’ve got a goal poacher in Dempsey who takes his chances when given good supply, and a great versatile player in Donovan who can operate anywhere across the front three. Being the captain, Donovan has always led from the front and has mostly been the only genuine performer against the big teams.

Between the posts is Tim Howard who’s had a great season with his club Everton in the Premier league. Another genuine quality forward USA have is Jozy Altidore who’s a big physical presence upfront, capable of holding the ball up and getting others into play and very strong in the air.

Michael Bradley is the one they depend on to connect defence to attack. Geoff Cameroon and Matt Besler are two reliable defenders who are expected to start in Brazil. Under Klinsmann, Cameroon has been rock solid so far. The omission of Tim Ream was unexpected as he had a fairly good season with Bolton.

In all, USA have a good team who on their day with the right decisions, can cause an upset. Let’s hope they do so, because it would only add to the excitement and intrigue of the World Cup.

 Mexico

The Miguel Herrera managed side need to turn on the style to show that they belong among the elite
                     The Miguel Herrera managed side need to turn on the style to show that they belong among the elite

Mexico have always been a team who’ve showed promise, but never have they performed to their level of expectation in the World Cup. They’re one of those teams having excellent youth prospects and experienced veterans. They also are a team who play a brand of free flowing attacking football which is easy on the eye.

As quoted by USA captain Landon Donovan “In my opinion, the youth in Mexico is better than ours. We’re looking for ways to improve it, but for me Mexico is one of the best in the world at that kind of progression, with youth, and with the national team it’s almost the same forever, and I think it will continue to be for a long time.” Donovan also went on to say that “Mexico has a chance to do something special in the World Cup. When they play well, Mexico is one of the best in the world.”

The reputation Mexico have in terms of their youth and style of play is immense, but actually putting it all into practice and performing at a major International tournament remains a big problem. Recently, Mexico defeated Brazil in the Olympic final which should further add to their confidence and aura of being capable enough to beat the best when playing well. They’re often the underdogs who come out on top in the end.

Qualification for the World Cup finals was a close call as it was nail biting stuff for the players as well as the fans. Mexico share their group with Cameroon, Croatia and hosts Brazil. It is a fairly even group, as Croatia have been playing well going into the tournament and Cameroon are highly unpredictable. When it comes down to individual talent though, Mexico have the upper hand over both of them. Just like the USA, Mexico too depend a lot on their star performers and experienced veterans. Captain Rafael Marquez will resume his duty of leading his men as he always has during his long career. Marquez’ experience along with the ever-present Hector Moreno and Carlos Salcido would do Mexico a world of good at the back. It’s a partnership which is very reliable.

Herrera and Carlos Pena are the usual paring in the middle who are the main reason behind the free flowing football Mexico play. However, the real creativity in Mexico’s midfield is mainly seen on the left hand side where Giovanni Dos Santos is up and raring to go with his exquisite skills and tricks. He’s another essential asset on whom Mexico rely for creativity going forward. In attack, Oribe Peralta has been prolific on the international stage. He’s the “Fox in the box” type of a centre forward which every top team needs. Peralta is accompanied by another big name striker and a goal machine in Javier Hernandez who also shares similar instincts to that of Peralta. We all know that if there is anyone can get a goal out of nothing, it is Chicharito.

Mexico are a team who can pull off shock results and surprises with the football they play. They last reached the Quarters in 1986, which seems like ages ago. It’s about time they live up to the expectation of their fans and finally prove their mettle in Brazil.