David vs. Goliath. The Battle of Thermopylae. The Spanish Armada of 1588. The Thrilla In Manila. These were all contests featuring a heavily-panned underdog, battles fought in conditions that tended to favor one side over the other. For decades now, the United States national team has been fighting battles like that. The opponent is Mexico. The conditions are Estadio Azteca.
Tonight, that battle resumes. The Yanks will be taking on El Tri in the lion's den, and once again they are heavy underdogs. Not only has America never won at the Azteca, but this incarnation of the USMNT is riddled with inexperience, featuring three players who've never been capped before, and another ten with fewer than ten appearances with the senior national team. Mexico has named a strong roster; conventional wisdom indicates that the Yanks are walking into a bloodbath.
It will be interesting to see how the US deals with the creative, lightning-fast attack of Mexico, who will be brimming with confidence after their U-23 side just won the gold medal in the London Olympics. The bulk of the USMNT's experience on this roster is in goal and in midfield; the defense is largely bereft of caps, and the attack is largely bereft of goals. It's a good bet that the Nats will try to clog the middle of the pitch and rely on the brilliance of Tim Howard to stay in the match, while hoping that Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez can steal goals on the counter.
Join us after the jump for our live thread, run jointly with the guys from New England Soccer Today. I'll be running this live from Spats in Providence, Rhode Island, along with the American Outlaws Providence chapter.