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USA vs. Mexico, CONCACAF Cup 2015: Time, TV schedule and live stream

The hype, intensity, and weirdness have all been turned up to 11 for tonight's game between the USMNT and El Tri.

When the dust settles after tonight's CONCACAF Cup match between the United States and Mexico, we'll be looking back on a pretty strange occasion. Think about it: The CONCACAF Cup exists only because CONCACAF saw an opportunity to make more money by creating a playoff for the last 2 Gold Cup winners to get into the Confederations Cup. There are only 2 Gold Cup winners in this cycle because CONCACAF saw an opportunity to make more money by holding a continental championship every 2 years rather than every 4 years like everyone else does. Oh, and the Confederations Cup only exists because FIFA saw an opportunity to make more money.

Now, keep all that in mind while we look at the teams involved tonight. The USMNT is coming off of a brutally disappointing Gold Cup, hasn't played the same lineup in roughly one whole eon, and is coached by an enigma whose words never mean what they appear (and often mean nothing at all). Mexico, meanwhile, needed some truly horrific refereeing - by an American, of course! - to help them into the Gold Cup final that they eventually won. They still fired their head coach, and now have an interim boss who already has a full-time coaching gig and who has no desire to stay in his post after tonight's game.

Got all that? OK then, let's get weird.

Key player: Michael Bradley

In the last set of friendlies, Mexico played out of a 532 formation that pressed high up the field. Argentina found this pressure tough to cope with, so you can imagine that Tuca Ferretti feels good about the same idea working against the less talented USMNT. Plus, there's the fact that those friendlies were Tuca's only dry run for this game. Unless he's off his rocker like Jurgen Klinsmann - and I've seen enough Liga MX to confirm that he's not - we're not going to see much changed in terms of El Tri's approach.

Bradley was always going to be important in this game, but with Mexico taking the risk of of a high line he's going to be absolutely vital. First of all, Bradley's first touch is going to be tested. That's not just foot to ball, either; it's body position, it's taking a touch that has a purpose. Mexico knows full well that if they can disrupt Bradley's game, this game is theirs for the taking. Bradley has to be pretty close to flawless when it comes to collecting the ball, because he's not going to have much space at any point.

The other facet of Bradley's game to watch out for here is his ability to play long-distance passes. Whether we're talking about switching the point of attack or going over the top for a runner, Bradley can be the player that opens the field up for the USMNT. This team is badly going to need that, especially since it seems likely that Fabian Johnson - probably slotting in at right back for this one - is going to have his usual influence on the US in terms of attacking play. Like it or not, this team leans heavily on Johnson's variety of runs and the fact that he doesn't just have to stay wide and hook in crosses.

Whether he can be steadily involved in the game will depend on the whole midfield, but Bradley's play will have the biggest impact on that part of the US attack. And on top of that, there's his leadership, his work rate, his ability to anticipate, and his intensity in a game where both teams are sure to be leaving it all on the field. If Bradley delivers even a B+ effort, Mexico has a strong chance of winning. We need to see the best of Bradley for this to end in favor of the Yanks.

Key question: How much of a mess is the US back four going to be?

Watching the USMNT in recent months has been, more than anything else, irritating. The constant chopping and changing in the back is experimental, and there's not too much wrong with that this far out from World Cup qualifying. However, experiments need to be pointed towards a discernible purpose, and that's where Klinsmann's decisions have come up short. The USMNT has lost any sort of coherence or stability in the back, and in the exchange has only learned things we already knew (e.g. Ventura Alvarado has no business starting games at this level).

All of that has me worried about the US's ability to defend. Structurally, the lack of familiarity and the weird positional choices - best summed up by center backs Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream both playing as fullbacks recently - means the players that have to perform tonight simply don't know each other that well. Making matters worse, it appears that Klinsmann has yet to figure out how to drill his team into an organized unit defending in any way other than on the back foot and on the edge of the 18 yard box. When USMNT defenders have tried to be proactive in 2015, they've made a ton of mistakes both individually and collectively. That's a problem against anyone; against a team featuring Chicharito, Jesus Corona, and Carlos Vela, it's a potential disaster.

It's not all on Klinsmann, though, since he doesn't actually play the games. We can be fairly sure that Klinsmann will pick Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley on the flanks, but the center backs - whoever they end up being, which is another way of saying they could be any of like 5 different guys, which is bad - need to deliver. No matter who has been playing, USMNT center backs since the World Cup have been showing a terrible tendency to step high at the wrong time, to ball-watch, and to switch assignments slowly. You can't blame coaches for those last two problems, and if they happen in this game we should expect Mexico to pounce.

Match previews: Stars and Stripes FC has covered this one from multiple angles, including this preview. also has a huge section of pre-game reading material, including plenty of Dos a Cero memories. Over at, Matt Doyle acknowledged just how difficult it is to scout a game backed with variables, while Brian Straus found the USMNT uninterested in their current unbeaten run against El Tri.

Match date/time: Saturday 10/10, 9:30pm Eastern

Venue: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)

TV: Fox Sports 1 (English), Univision (Spanish), Univision Deportes (Spanish)

Online: Fox Sports Go (English), Fox Soccer 2Go (English, requires subscription), Univision Deportes En Vivo (Spanish)

Listings via LiveSoccerTV.

Check back for our gamethread one hour before kickoff.

Editor's note: Do not post links to illegal streams anywhere on Black and Red United. You can and will be banned on the first offense.