Tuesday’s match between Mexico and the USMNT will showcase the future of both countries as they enter the next World Cup cycle. It will also help answer the question of who will carry the CONCACAF torch?
The Mexico-United States rivalry will have another chapter written on Tuesday night in Nashville, Tennessee. This time, there will be an added interest as both sides meet for the first team since the World Cup and the rosters are filled with young talent for the future.
After failing to qualify for the World Cup, the United States Men’s National Team has been focused on developing the next generation on the international stage. Their resurrection has already begun.
But on the other side, the Mexican national team is just beginning their path towards the next four years. Yet another loss in the Round of 16 sent Mexico home, prior to what many thought could have been their first quarterfinal appearance at a World Cup since 1986.
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The U.S. roster has an average age of 23 for this round of international friendlies, while Mexico has a quarter of their roster getting their first national team call-ups. Defined by youth, Tuesday’s match will give some insight into who to watch for on both sides in the coming years. This match won’t give us a definitive answer to who will be the top of CONCACAF over the next four years but it will provide a glimpse into what could be.
The USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Brazil and Mexico’s 4-1 loss to Uruguay were wake-up calls — both countries have a long way to go over the next four years. To be fair, the younger players on both teams have not had the experience of playing against stars like Luis Suarez and Neymar. As a result, we have to take the results with a bit of leniency. The future is bright but there is still a lot of work to be done before either team can be claimed as one of the top 10 teams in the world.
One similarity between the USMNT and Mexico is that they both have a singular young star in Europe. Christian Pulisic and Hirving Lozano are highly sought after players and have immense potential to continue their careers at the very top level. Although it is a bit disappointing we won’t see either player on Tuesday, this will be a storyline to watch when the two meet in future regional competitions.
The next major competitions in CONCACAF will be the 2019 Gold Cup and the beginning of the CONCACAF Nations League in 2019 as well. Until then, all we have to gauge both teams is the interim friendly matches both sides will play.
The U.S. has been very aggressive in their scheduling as they will have multiple friendlies against the World’s best over the course of the next three months. After Brazil’s win over the USMNT last Friday, one has to wonder if the U.S. will get many positive results from their upcoming slate of matches. As Colombia, Italy, and England await, the USMNT is going to be tested and there is the strong possibility that they don’t find the win column for the remainder of 2018.
For Mexico, the friendlies that await them this year will not have as big of an indication as their World Cup performance, which essentially gave us the answer of where they are at in world football at the moment.
As mentioned, the Gold Cup and Nations League competitions begin next year and they should give us a clearer answer as to who will be the frontrunner to lead the way for CONCACAF over the next four years. In between now and then, there are many unknowns. Who will the USMNT keep from the past generation? Will Mexico’s young talent find clubs in Europe? Can the USMNT players in Europe continue to stay in top-flight football?
Come next summer, the USMNT will have the World Cup disaster and Mexico will have their disappointing end to what was a promising tournament behind them. This will pave the way for what should be an interesting year ahead. For now, we have Tuesday to give us a brief glimpse of what is ahead. The answer of who will lead CONCACAF is slowly being revealed.