CHICAGO, IL (Nov. 11, 2021) – Reaching the halfway point of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign, all eyes are focused on USA-Mexico, presented by Allstate, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati on Friday, Nov. 12 (9 p.m. ET; ESPN2, ESPN+, Univision and TUDN). The USMNT sits in second place in the standings after six matches, three points behind Mexico.

USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 24/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 12/0)

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) CAL SOUTH ALUMNI

FORWARDS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 13/5), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 41/8) CAL SOUTH ALUMNI, Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 2/2), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 4/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 40/16), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 16/1)

USA SCHEDULE – NOVEMBER WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Date Opponent Venue Time (ET) TV Info
Friday, Nov. 12 Mexico TQL Stadium; Cincinnati, Ohio 9:00 p.m. ESPN2, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN
Tuesday, Nov. 16 Jamaica Independence Park; Kingston, Jamaica 5 p.m. Paramount+, Universo

 

RIVALRY RENEWED

North America’s biggest rivalry will take center stage on Friday night as the USA and Mexico meet for the 72nd time. While the USMNT is 21-36-15 all-time vs. El Tri in the series dating back to 1934since 2000 the USA holds a 16-9-6 advantage. In home World Cup qualifying matches since 1990, the U.S. is 4-1-1, with all four wins coming in the state of Ohio.

·       READ MORE: USA-Mexico World Cup Qualifying History

The U.S. won its last two matches against Mexico in thrilling fashion to clinch two regional trophies this summer. In June, the arch-nemeses met in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League Final, an instant classic that featured a Christian Pulisic game-winning goal and heroic penalty kick save from substitute goalkeeper Ethan Horvath in extra time for a 3-2 win. In August, the confederation powers clashed again in the Concacaf Gold Cup Final, a 1-0 triumph for the USA in extra time on an 117th-minute goal from defender Miles Robinson. The two trophy-winning matches vs. Mexico came from two almost entirely different squads and 21 of the 25 players called for the November World Cup qualifying matches were a part of at least one of them.

LAST TIME OUT

The USA picked up a strong six points during the October World Cup qualifying window, ending its slate of games with an emphatic 2-1 victory against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio. After a frenzied start saw Los Ticos jump out to a lead in the first minute of play, Sergiño Dest scored a spectacular goal to equalize in the 25th minute and forward Tim Weah sent a hard-hit shot on target that forced a game-winning own goal in the 66th.

The USMNT kicked off the window with an exciting 2-0 win against Jamaica in front of a sellout crowd in Austin, Texas, as teenage forward phenom Ricardo Pepi bagged a brace to become the youngest player to score in back-to-back World Cup qualifying matches. In the second match of October Octagonal action, the U.S. dropped a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Panama on the road in Panama City.

GAINING EXPERIENCE

A total of 25 players have made their World Cup qualifying debut during this cycle, the third-most all-time through just six games. Thirty-three have earned caps on the road to Qatar and experience is developing among the player pool. Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson have appeared in all six matches of the Octagonal thus far, while Reggie Cannon, Jesús Ferreira, Joe Scally and Sam Vines have been called up to their first World Cup qualifying camp.

MEXICO AT TOP OF THE TABLE

Mexico leads the Octagonal through six games, but its undefeated 4-0-2 record has not come easily, finding late goals and converting a number of penalties. In the October window opener, Canada shocked Mexico with a 1-1 draw at Estadio Azteca before El Tri rolled Honduras 3-0 three days later at the same venue. Mexico closed its October slate with a 2-0 victory at El Salvador, scoring in the 30th minute before netting an insurance penalty in second-half stoppage time.

Ten different players have scored Mexico’s 10 goals in World Cup qualifying thus far. All six players who tallied for El Tri in October return for the showdown with the USMNT: defenders Hector Moreno and Jorge Sanchez, midfielder Sebastian Cordova as well as forwards Raul Jimenez, Rogelio Funes Mori and Hirving Lozano.

THE OCTAGON

Teams qualify for the World Cup through their regional confederations, and the USMNT has to run the gauntlet of Concacaf (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) to reach Qatar 2022. For the first time, eight teams are contesting the final round of World Cup qualifying for Concacaf from September to March. The nations play a 14-match round-robin, home and away against each of the seven other teams.

READ MORE: Five Things to Know About 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the World Cup qualifying schedule has been condensed from 18 months to seven. To accommodate the new schedule, the USMNT has to play three matches during four of the five international windows rather than the usual two matches.

ONLY FORWARD/SOLO PA’LANTE

U.S. Soccer kicked off World Cup qualifying with the launch of “Only Forward,” / “Solo Pa’lante,” the USMNT’s creative campaign focused on uniting fans and the team in a collective journey to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Developed in conjunction with the players, coaches and staff, “Only Forward / Solo Pa’lante” highlights a young, diverse and global-minded Men’s National Team that is humble yet resilient as it looks to tackle the challenge of World Cup Qualifying during the next eight months. As the USMNT continues to gain valuable experience on the road to Qatar, it’s ready to show the world that they are prepared to change the way the world views American soccer.

USA ROSTER NOTES

● The 25-player squad averages 29 caps overall and 10 in official competition.

● Players ply their trade in nine different countries: USA (10), England (3), Germany (3), Belgium (2), Italy (2), Austria (1), France (1), Portugal (1), Spain (1), Turkey (1)

● A veteran of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, defender DeAndre Yedlin (69 caps) is the most experienced player on the roster, followed by Kellyn Acosta (42), Paul Arriola (41), Christian Pulisic (40) and Sebastian Lletget (33).

● Sixteen players are age 24 or younger: Antonee Robinson and Miles Robinson (24); Reggie Cannon, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic (23); Tyler Adams, Mark McKenzie and Sam Vines (22); Brenden Aaronson, Chris Richards and Tim Weah (21); Jesús Ferreira (20); Gianluca Busio (19); Yunus Musah, Ricardo Pepi and Joe Scally (18)

● Twenty players carry over from the October World Cup Qualifying roster, with Christian Pulisic, Reggie Cannon, Jesús Ferreira, Sam Vines, and first-time call-up Joe Scally joining the team this month.

● After picking up an ankle injury in the USA’s 4-1 World Cup Qualifying win on Sept. 8 at Honduras, Pulisic returned to play for Chelsea on Tuesday, going the final 16 minutes in the club’s 1-0 win at Malmö in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

● With his brace last month against Jamaica, 18-year-old Ricardo Pepi became the second youngest USMNT player after Pulisic to score multiple goals in a game and youngest to record goals in back-to-back World Cup Qualifiers.

● Defender Sam Vines will return to the USMNT for the first time since the Gold Cup Final on Aug. 1. The Royal Antwerp left back has played in three matches across all competitions since coming back from a broken collarbone suffered in early September.

● Reggie Cannon also returns to the USMNT for the first time since the Gold Cup Final. The right back missed the beginning of the Portuguese Primeira season with an injury, but has appeared in each of the last two league matches for Boavista.

● Ferreira returns to USMNT camp for the first time since January when his two-goal, three-assist performance guided the USA to a 7-0 friendly win against Trinidad & Tobago on Jan. 31 in Orlando. The 20-year-old attacker has collected eight goals and eight assists in 26 matches for FC Dallas this season.

● Right back Joe Scally is the lone first-time call-up. The 18-year-old New York City FC product has had a revelatory start to the season for Borussia Mönchengladbach, starting all 10 Bundesliga matches and earning his first assist in the club’s 2-1 win at Bochum on Sunday. Scally is the seventh player from the USA’s 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup roster to earn a senior team invite and would become the fifth to earn a cap.

●  Cannon, Ferreira, Scally and Vines join goalkeeper Sean Johnson as the five players on the roster seeking their World Cup Qualifying debuts. A total of 25 players have made their first WCQ appearances for the USA this cycle – already the third-most in team history.

● Midfielder Weston McKennie came into camp in strong form. The 23-year-old scored goals in back-to-back Serie A matches for Juventus last week and nearly made it three-straight games after slamming an effort off the crossbar in the 73rd minute of Juventus’ 4-2 win against Zenit St. Petersburg in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

● The Nov. 12 qualifier against Mexico will mark the one-year anniversary of 18-year-old Yunus Musah’s USMNT debut. Since making his inaugural appearance at Wales on Nov. 12, 2020, Musah committed to the USMNT in March and has collected nine caps and two assists.

● Attacker Brenden Aaronson and midfielder Tyler Adams are the only two players to appear in all six qualifiers so far this cycle. Aaronson has contributed two goals and an assist, while Adams has captained the team in three matches including the wins against Jamaica and Costa Rica last month.

● Only four players have taken part in previous USA-Mexico World Cup Qualifiers. At just 18, Pulisic started in the 2-1 defeat to El Trí on Nov. 11, 2016, in Columbus. He then joined Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola and DeAndre Yedlin in starting the return fixture, a 1-1 draw at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on June 11, 2017.

● Four players on the roster have previously scored against Mexico: Tyler Adams (Sept. 11, 2018), Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic (June 6, 2021) and Miles Robinson (Aug. 1, 2021).

USA-MEXICO

●  Sunday marks the USA’s 72nd match all-time vs. Mexico, by far the most frequent opponent in USMNT history. The U.S. is 21-36-15 against El Tri all-time dating back to 1934, but since 2000 holds a 16-9-6 advantage

● This is the archrivals’ third meeting in official Concacaf competition this year following the USA’s dramatic 3-2 triumph in June’s Nations League Final and thrilling 1-0 victory in July’s Gold Cup Final.

● The U.S. is 6-16-7 all-time vs. Mexico in World Cup qualifying and 4-4-4 since the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. Their last match came in June 2017, a 1-1 draw at Estadio Azteca highlighted by midfielder Michael Bradley’s golazo from midfield.

● The USMNT is 4-1-1 vs. El Tri at home in the modern era, highlighted by four straight “Dos a Cero” victories in Columbus, Ohio in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013.

● The first “Dos a Cero” match came in February 2001 with a goal from Josh Wolff and current U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Earnie Stewart,

● Friday’s match marks the sixth straight qualifying cycle that the U.S. will play Mexico in the state of Ohio.

MEXICO ROSTER

GOALKEEPERS (3): Rodolfo Cota (Leon; 6/0) Guillermo Ochoa (Club America; 120/0), Alfredo Talavera (UNAM Pumas; 38/0)

DEFENDERS (10): Jesus Alberto Angulo (Atlas; 6/0), Nestor Araujo (Celta Vigo/ESP; 54/3), Julio Cesar Dominguez (Cruz Azul; 20/0), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey; 66/0), Hector Moreno (Monterrey; 119/5), Luis Rodriguez (UANL Tigres; 35/2), Osvaldo Rodriguez (Leon; 7/1), Jorge Sanchez (Club America; 18/1), Gilberto Sepulveda (Chivas; 5/0), Johan Vasquez (Genoa/ITA; 2/0)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul; 24/4), Edson Alvarez (Ajax/NED; 50/2), Jesus Ricardo Angulo (Chivas; 3/1), Sebastian Cordova (Club America; 10/3), Andres Guardado (Real Betis/ESP; 170/28), Hector Herrera (Atletico Madrid/ESP; 91/9), Orbelin Pineda (Cruz Azul; 42/6), Carlos Rodriguez (Monterrey; 25/0), Luis Romo (Cruz Azul; 16/0)

FORWARDS (5): Jesus Corona (Porto/POR; 61/10), Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey; 12/5), Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton/ENG; 89/28), Hirving Lozano (Napoli/ITA; 51/15), Henry Martin (Club America; 16/4)

IN FOCUS: MEXICO

● Mexico qualified for the final round of Concacaf World Cup qualifying as the first-ranked team in the region, claiming one of five automatic berths in the Octagonal.

● The majority of Mexico’s roster (19 players) compete domestically in Liga MX, with four players each coming from Club America, Cruz Azul and Monterrey. Cruz Azul won the spring 2021 league title, while America is currently at the top of the table.

● Eight players ply their trade abroad in Spain (3), Italy (2), England, Netherlands and Portugal.

● Gerardo “Tata” Martino has managed El Tri since January 2019 and has led Mexico to a 33-5-5 record in that period. He brings a wealth of experience in the international and club game, previously managing the Paraguay and Argentina national teams as well as Newell’s Old Boys and FC Barcelona.

● Prior to taking the Mexico job, Martino led Atlanta United FC for two years, managing USMNT defender Miles Robinson as United won the 2018 MLS Cup.

●  Mexico has qualified for the last seven FIFA World Cups and 16 overall. El Tri has only missed the tournament three times: failing to qualify 1974 and 1982 and being banned from the 1990 competition after fielding overage players in the 1988 Concacaf U-20 Championship.

● Mexico qualified for the World Cup in all six iterations of the Hexagonal, topping the table twice, in 1998 and 2018. Its worst Final Round of World Cup qualifying finish came in 2014, when two stoppage-time goals for the USA against Panama sent El Tri to the intercontinental playoffs.

– This article courtesy of ussoccer.com