In a battle billed only for archrivals, Concacaf’s second-place United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) and first place Mexico will face off on Friday, November 12, before a colorful capacity crowd of loyalists at downtown Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium. The match represents another critical game for Team USA as they steadily work through the Concacaf Octagonal tournament that will automatically send its top three finishers to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
After six of 14 total games to be played in the tourney, the U.S. currently sits in second place: three points behind Mexico, one point ahead of Canada, and three above Panama.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter called up 25 familiar faces including Colorado Rapids’ midfielder Kellyn Acosta and Royal Antwerp’s defenseman Sam Vines. Both are expected to play key roles in the two-match set ahead of the team.
Following their game with El Tri, the Yanks will travel south of the border to take on sixth-place Jamaica in Kingston on Tuesday, November 16.
During a meeting with international media members, Acosta said, “We’re expecting to come out aggressive and being decisive as well. And I know they’re going to try to match that intensity. Being in a pro-U.S. environment is definitely huge for us.” He added, “Each home game is a game that has to be a must-win in order to go into that game with that mentality.” That conviction was evident this summer when the Yanks trumped Mexico twice and then lifted the inaugural Concacaf Nation’s League trophy in Denver.”
Acosta will be looking to earn his 43rd cap Friday night.
What should viewers and in-person fans expect? Acosta summed it up best: “It’s a game of duels — duels all over the field. And I think the team that wins more duels will hopefully prevail. We had two great results over the summer and obviously, it was definitely great for [our] confidence-wise, but being here in qualifiers is a different beast.”
For Vines, who just recently returned to play with his Belgium side after incurring a broken collarbone, this is another opportunity to showcase his mix of skills and talents before the USMNT coaching staff. To date, he has earned eight caps and scored once for the senior team.
Berhalter also called in healed-from-an-ankle-injury, Christian Pulisic, to fortify his team’s sometimes anemic offense. Pulisic sustained his injury in early September against a rough Concacaf’s Honduras team. Fitness will be Pulisic’s only limitation. He is not expected to start based on Behalter’s comments early in this camp. ”He’s been training for four days with Chelsea, and common sense is going to tell us you can’t start a guy in a game like this when he’s only been training for four days, and he’s been out for two months,” stated Berhalter.
Dallas FC’s star striker, Ricardo Pepi, is projected to be at the top of the USMNT attacking formation. The 18-year old is off to a fast start with the Stars and Stripes, already scoring three times and dishing out two assists in just for games. The youngster scored 13 goals for his Dallas team during the 2021 season.
“This window is a short window; we see Ricardo playing a large portion of these two games,” said Berhalter in his opening statement to the media. “So we think we’re in a good spot.”
When prompted to reflect on what he has witnessed playing alongside Pepi, Acosta said, “Ricardo — he’s great. He’s taken his opportunities really well. He showcased well in MLS and then coming into the national team, he’s been great, scoring a bunch of goals, being a force upfront. And for him, I mean, just keep going and doing what he’s doing. I think he’s a guy that’s pretty level-headed despite everything going on around him. He’s done a great job of being confident and being a quiet assassin on the field, and credit to him.”
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION AND AFFILIATION
DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 22/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 4/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 17/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 14/3), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 0/0), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp/BEL; 8/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 69/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 20/2)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 42/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 20/1), Gianluca Busio (Venezia/ITA; 7/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 33/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 27/7), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 9/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 29/0)
FORWARDS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 13/5), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 41/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 2/2), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 4/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 40/16), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 16/1)
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Friday, November 12 at 7 p.m. MT
Venue: TQL Stadium — Cincinnati, Ohio
TV Information: ESPN2, ESPN+, Univision, and TUDN
Follow along on Twitter @USMNT, @AODenver, @AOSprings
Local Denver gathering: Colorado Rapids’ sponsored launch party: