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The biggest rivalry in CONCACAF is set to resume this weekend, as Mexico face the United States for a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
United States vs Mexico: Plenty at stake in Confederations Cup Playoff
10/09/2015
 
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By Dan Price


The biggest rivalry in CONCACAF is set to resume this weekend, as Mexico face the United States for a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.


Although the game will be decided on the pitch, lots has been happening behind the scenes that makes this one of the most intriguing match-ups between the two sides in several years.

Now or Never for Tuca

"Copa CONCACAF" Entrenamiento Selección Mexicana

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Tigres UANL manager agreed to take the reins of the national side on an interim basis after airport-gate saw Miguel Herrera was removed from his role in late July. His sole requirement was to win this match.


So far he is winless having drawn 3-3 with Trinidad and Tobago and 2-2 with Argentina. Despite that, the performances in the two matches – especially in the tie with Argentina – have given fans hope that a win against the United States is more than achievable. Tuca will take charge of one final game when Mexico play Panama on Tuesday, but failure to win tomorrow will make that a huge anti-climax.

New Boss, New Times

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Tuca’s permanent successor will be former Sao Paulo manager Juan Carlos Osorio.


Not many fans in Mexico are familiar with his body of work; he spent three doomed months at Puebla in 2011 and had a mixed spell at the MLS’s Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls between 2007 and 2009.


Nonetheless, since leaving the CONCACAF region and returning to South America his stock has risen greatly. Between 2012 and 2015 he won three consecutive Colombian league titles with Atletico Nacional, before sealing a move to Brazilian giants Sao Paulo in May this year.


His tenure in the Campeonato Brasileiro lasted less than six months, however, as he quickly jumped ship once El Tri came knocking.

Klinsmann’s Job on the Line?

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United States boss Jurgen Klinsmann has become an increasingly divisive figure among the America fan-base during the last two years. After public spats with MLS Commissioner Don Garber and a dismal Gold Cup campaign this summer, there is now an increasing sense that he’s on borrowed time.


Publicly, the American soccer hierarchy continue to back him. Privately, both they and Klinsmann know that a loss tomorrow evening might mean that a parting of ways in the best approach for all concerned.

Importance of the Game

Despite ex-US manager Bruce Arena’s comments to the contrary (he recently called the Confederations Cup “somewhat useless”), the game is hugely important for both sides.


Aside from the bragging rights and the huge commercial aspect, neither Mexico nor the States get to play against world class opposition in a competitive setting with any regularity. The chance to test their mettle against the South American and European champions less than 12 months before a World Cup is a huge opportunity, and one that would surely stand them in good stead ahead of the showpiece event.


The form guide

Encouragingly for fans of the United States, Klinsmann has never lost against their arch rivals since he took charge in the summer of 2011. His record reads P6, W3, D3, L0, and he’s outscored Mexico 6-2 over their last three meetings.


The most recent game between the two saw a 2-0 for the States in a Gold Cup warm up game in April, though in their defence El Tri sent out a second string eleven that was shorn of their European stars.


Kick-off in the Rose Bowl is at 9pm EDT.


Prediction: United States 0-1 Mexico

 
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