Here is your starting XI before tonight’s big match against Mexico at Estadio Azteca.

Studio 90: Some interviews from USMNT players heading into the big tilt tonight at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The SBI Podcast: Episode 20. Ives recaps the Costa Rica game and looks forward to the Mexico game, while talking a little MLS.

MLS ExtraTime Radio: Jeff Agoos joins to the boys to discuss the games and gives a prediction for tonight’s tilt.

ESPNFC.com’s Jeff Carlisle talks about the USMNT’s confidence heading into Mexico.

ESPNFC.com’s James Martin interviews Jozy Altidore and talks about Mexico and his goal drought.

Noah Davis does a fantastic job writing about a USA vs Mexico game from 1980. It’s a long read but it is well worth it.

Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl asks if Azteca has lost some of its intimidation factor.

MLSSoccer.com’s Simon Borg says the USMNT should play with five at the back. 

Sporting News’ Brian Straus writes a non-controversial article about how Jurgen Klinsmann has led the team through adversity.

SBI’s Ives Galarcep thinks Sacha Kljestan is poised to start tonight. 

Not related to tonight’s game but important nonetheless. MSLSoccer.com thinks that the US U-20 team was drawn into the “Group of Death” for the U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer.

THE GAME THAT PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN
It’s a game that will go down in the annals of United States soccer history. Those who witnessed it have bragging rights until the day they die. It’s also maybe a game that should never have been completed.

Costa Rica can complain all they want but the results are the results. Ives Galarcep in his most recent podcast made a great point, that pitch wasn’t any less playable than the mud pit that the Yanks had to endure in  Antigua & Barbuda. It wasn’t pretty but it was three points nonetheless.

Things I liked.

  • Jozy Altidore was a handful. No he didn’t score. No, he really hasn’t scored a meaningful USMNT goal since Spain. But man did he work his ass off. Granted the conditions sucked and the Costa Rica central defense wasn’t very good to begin with, but he held the ball well, created a few chances for himself and his deflected shot led to the game’s lone goal.
  • Anyone who question’s German-American Jermaine Jones‘ desire to play for this team and country can go jump off a cliff. Yeah he makes stupid decisions sometimes and is prone to inopportune fouls but he battled and bled in the snow for his team and his country on Friday night. With all due respect, get bent Bruce Arena.
  • DaMarcus Beasley is back. Would I play him over a healthy Fabian Johnson? No. Should he get a shot at LM or LW at some point? Yes. Beasley is by far the fastest player in the USMNT pool. He’s a veteran who has played everywhere in CONCACAF and with him playing in Mexico can handle the elements that those road fixtures bring.
  • The home-field advantage for the USMNT team keeps getting better and better. The American Outlaws were amazing. That stadium, despite the horrendous weather, was packed until the end. Is it 110,000? No and it’s not going to be any time soon. But packing 30,000 into a nice stadium and limiting the opposing fans numbers to the hundreds does wonders for morale and to help intimidate the opponents.

WELCOME TO THUNDERDOME
I feel good about this Mexico game. The pressure is all on El Tri.They sit fourth in the Hex right now and are winless in their two games, including a 0-0 draw to Jamaica at home. They died late in the heat at Honduras, giving up a 2-0 lead in their first road fixture.

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Here is your starting XI for tonight’s match against Costa Rica. These are 11 things to should read, watch or listen to before the big game.

US Soccer’s Studio 90: Some interviews from the official US Soccer video blog heading into tonight.

Grant Wahl’s column on the match with Los Ticos: Wahl gives his opinion on what needs to be done to get over the tension created by the article by Brian Straus. He also does make a good point that Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t release the starting lineup until the morning of the games.

The Soccer By Ives Podcast: Ives Galarcep breaks down the roster and discusses the snub of Carlos Bocanegra and also gives his probable lineup.

ExtraTime Radio: The guys in the MLS office break down the roster selection and play some sound from Jurgen Klinsmann’s conference call.

ExtraTime Radio: The guys discuss the comments made in Straus’ article and USMNT great Frankie Hejduk joins them to talk about tonight’s game.

The Shin Guardian Official Preview: TSG does a great job breaking down the matchup with Costa Rica, including the tactics used by Los Ticos.

The Shin Guardian Orange Slices: Matt from TSG gives you some news, notes and tactics ahead of tonight’s match. Remember to check back with this link every so often as he will continually update the page up until the 10 p.m. EST start.

Steven Goff’s World Cup Qualifier TV listing: Can’t wait for tonight’s match? That’s fine. Goff lists the channels and start times for 30 WCQ games that are available today.

Brian Straus drops a bombshell: Straus from AOL’s Sporting News talks and publishes the comments of 11 anonymous sources on the in-house problems facing the USMNT under Klinsmann.

Soccer By Ives: Gomez, Bradley and Cameron respond to Straus’ article. Hercules Gomez makes a great point that the media and fan reaction to the article shows we are progressing as a soccer nation. Michael Bradley sounds like the USMNT’s next long-time captain.

 

I wasn’t entirely certain on what the first post on this site was going to be about but the issue with Jurgen Klinsmann using 24 different lineups (Friday against Costa Rica will be the 24th) has been a big part of the criticism against him.

Many of the criticisms are valid, specially the lack of tactical adjustments, but the lineup issue I disagree with. First thing to note is that 16 of the 23 matches under Klinsmann were friendlies. Rarely is the full “A” squad brought in to friendlies for various reasons (not a mandatory release date, summer, etc.). Three of the 23 have been during the fabled January camps, with rosters populated by MLS and Scandinavian based players. Five of them were based in Europe, which saw predominantly European based players in the camps for games at Belgium, France, Slovenia, Italy and Russia. Again games that you would not be trotting out the “A” squad and taking a look at younger Euro-based players.

Taking a closer look at the seven World Cup Qualifiers you begin to see Klinsmann’s preferred lineup, and no not one of the seven have featured the exact same starting 11 but there are reasons for that. Only Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard have started in all seven, and that clearly comes to an end against Costa Rica due to Howard’s back issue.

THE BACK FOUR

Right Back: The Mayor of Hannover has started in five of the seven games. The two he missed, away at Jamaica and away at Honduras, were both due to injury. Injuries will force him to miss Costa Rica and Mexico. Michael Parkhurst filled in at the loss in Jamaica and Timmy Chandler got the start in the loss at Honduras. Consensus opinion would be that Steve Cherundolo probably would have started those two if he were healthy.

Center Back: Clarence Goodison started four times at right center back but was subbed off at the half in the 1-1 draw at Guatemala. Cameron has started twice on the right and three times on the left, including the game at Antigua and Barbuda that saw Carlos Bocanegra have to fill in at left back. Bocanegra has started four games at left center back and Omar Gonzalez started on the right in Honduras. Klinsmann has been tinkering with the middle two for most of the qualifying campaign. When Cameron and Bocanegra have paired together the USMNT is 2-0 with a 3-1 win against Guatemala and a 1-0 win against Jamaica. Goodison and Bocanegra have a record of 1-0-1 when paired together and Cameron and Goodison are 1-0-1. Statistically the best pairing has been Cameron and Bocanegra but it’s clear that if Boca can’t get his club situation straightened out his appearances will be extremely limited. Captain or not, if you’re not playing for your club you’re probably no good to the national team either.

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