The United States Men's National Team played in Ohio 364 days ago, hosting Jamaica in the third round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying in front of a sell-out crowd. Tonight's crowd is going to blow that one out of the water. Not only will there be a record-shattering 9,000-strong supporters' section, not only will we be finished with the 4/5 of the Hexagonal (the fourth and final round of qualifying), but tonight marks Mexico's quadrennial visit to the Buckeye State. And we USA fans tend to get up for this particular occasion.
The Yanks are coming off their first loss in 13 matches Friday night in Costa Rica and will look to rebound against their biggest rival despite missing several players due to suspension and injury. El Tri, meanwhile, are trying to save their qualifying campaign as they currently sit outside the top-3 positions, which guarantee direct entry to the FIFA World Cup next summer in Brazil. Oh yeah, they fired their coach, too, and the replacement is not guaranteed his position beyond tonight, so they'll be fired up, too.
Tonight is a special night American soccer fans have been looking forward to for - in more than a few cases - years. If you're a sports fan, you owe it to yourself to tune in.
Time: 8 pm EDT
Venue: El Tri's Nightmarescape - Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Game coverage will be on ESPN, with streaming on WatchESPN. But it'll start long before the game, with a whiparound show covering the other WCQs today leading into 2-1/2 hours of pregame coverage from Columbus.
Match Previews: Our buddy Kevin McCauley has a great preview over at SBNation.com, and we previewed the game on this week's just-released episode of our podcast Filibuster. If you feel like reliving the stolen point the USMNT pulled out of the Azteca in March, we've got you covered there, too. For more coverage of the national team, be sure to check out our sister site Stars & Stripes FC.
Projected USA Lineup: I don't envy Juergen Klinsmann's task in developing a coherent XI to run out tonight. Suspensions - some of them pretty bogus - to Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron, plus an injury to Michael Bradley (during warm-ups before the Costa Rica game, no less) leave his side somewhat short on first-choice players. But here's what I think will happen: Tim Howard in goal. (Duh.) Michael Parkhurst, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orazco-Fiscal and DaMarcus Beasley in defense. Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones in central midfield, with Landon Donovan and Fabian Johnson wide. Up top, Clint Dempsey running around underneath his Sounders teammate Eddie Johnson.
Match Prediction: I mean, I have to predict dos a cero, right? And that's what I'll do. As much of an upgrade Luis Fernando Tena might be over Chepo de la Torre as a manager, three days ain't a lot of time to put your imprint on a national team, while Klinsy & Co. will have had a few days to figure out some adjustments for the missing pieces. Galaxy fans in particular will rejoice, with a set piece goal from Omar Gonzalez and a counterattack goal through Landon Donovan.
What Are You Drinking?: Still TBD as I write this. There's a new liquor store that just opened up in my neighborhood and that has been bragging about its craft beer selection, so I'll be availing myself of their offerings on my way home from work this evening.
Consider our comments section your place for pre-game, in-game and post-game commentary and conversation as the USA attempts to lock down their berth into Brazil 2014.
More from Black And Red United:
- World Cup Qualifying - United States vs. Mexico preview: When Last We Met... Escape from Azteca
- Filibuster Podcast - Week 28: Resigned sighing, LA Galaxy, and USA vs. Mexico
- Fantasy Focus: What?
- D.C. United and Mayor Vincent Gray will sign a Project Labor Agreement tomorrow at 2pm
- USA vs. Mexico lineup: United States scrambles for replacements against El Tri