Who: United States vs. Mexico
What: Opening game of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF.
Where: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
When/TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Three keys to victory for Team USA
The up and comer: Over the history of this rivalry, the theme is that Mexico has had the more skillful players, something the U.S. has offset with grit and determination. Now, the Americans might have the most highly touted player on the field in 18-year-old Christian Pulisic. If Pulisic continues his superb recent form and capacity for fearless attacking runs, it will be of great benefit to coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Mexico’s confidence: A 7-0 loss to Chile in the quarterfinal of this summer’s Copa America was devastating for Mexico. There was no swift rebound either, with an unconvincing win in El Salvador followed by a home tie with Honduras in the last World Cup qualifying round. At its best, Mexico can play with some of the finest teams in the world. If it starts poorly and shoulders drop, it could be faced with a long night.
Midfield battles: U.S. captain Michael Bradley has a superb record against Mexico and will be called again to boss things in the center of the field. Mexico has a series of midfield options to choose from, but whatever system they pick, count on Bradley to assert his threat with powerful forward runs aimed at creating defensive confusion.