When the U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Thursday afternoon that the nation would be hosting Mexico in a friendly on April 1, there were undoubtedly a number of people who felt incredible excitement. After all, the the thought of the two nations playing against each other can do nothing but bring back thoughts of epic matches at the Estadio Azteca with 100,000 screaming fans or the recent match at Columbus Crew Stadium, which clinched World Cup 2014 qualification for the Americans.
Unfortunately, the upcoming friendly between the two nations will not have near the high level of play as previous matches, and really isn’t much to get excited about at all.
With only three and a half months left between the friendly and the World Cup 2014 opener against Ghana, common belief would be that U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann would get his A-squad together against Mexico. But this is not possible because of the fact that the match will not be played on a FIFA fixture, which means that no club in the world is obligated to allow a player to leave to attend the match in Glendale, Arizona. The result will surely be a game between the best of the best from MLS and Liga MX, which is sure to underwhelm U.S. fans who tune into the game looking for a fight to the death.
On the U.S. side, there will be no Jozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones, Geoff Cameron, Tim Howard, Fabian Johnson, Aron Johansson, Brad Guzan or Sacha Kljestan amongst others. Each of these guys is a near lock to be on the plane to Brazil for World Cup 2014, and the first five are most likely going to be starters. Instead, fans will be graced with the presence of Mike Magee, Chris Wondolowski, Bill Hamid, Luis Gil and Tony Beltran, who are all fine footballers, but surely are not guys the U.S. wants to rely on in Brazil this summer.
There is always going to be a certain value in testing out as many options as possible, and certainly watching first teamers Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Omar Gonzalez will provide solace for some fans. But, one thing fans expect when the two nations play each other is that all of the best players will be on the field, and that simply is not going to happen on April 1. That will make this game one that goes down in the books as being more important for the coaches in finding options off the bench for World Cup 2014 and is a bit of a snoozer for fans at home.