Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
Line: USMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130
Whippany, NJ – Gregg Berhalter, his staff, USSoccer functionaries, and a 26 player USMNT roster assembled Tuesday afternoon in New Jersey to begin preparations for Friday’s friendly with Mexico.
Just a little over one month ago, the two nations faced off in the Gold Cup final with Mexico claiming the spoils thanks to a 73rd-minute goal from Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos.
And while the powers that be may prefer to play down the “revenge game” angle, Reggie Cannon, a breakout star for the U.S. at the 2019 Gold Cup, did not shy away from that designation when he spoke to a small group of reporters yesterday.
“Facing Mexico yet again yeah; it’s gonna be a revenge match,” was the FC Dallas fullback’s frank assessment of Friday’s match at Red Bull Arena.
“We’re all super excited to play this game,” Cannon relayed, “and you know, I think the team coming out here, you could sense that, that feeling of, you know what we’re going to go out there and getting it done. We were so close, you know, we could taste it, and after that game, we’re all disappointed in ourselves and the team and the way we played. We’re going to come back out and have that fire and that hunger again this time the summer is gonna be different.”
Still, the 21-year-old wasn’t sweating it, even finding time to joke with the press about wearing his jersey backward on what was a perfect day for training in Whippany, New Jersey.
Cannon, Robinson among a group of youngsters ready to shine
Coming into the Gold Cup, Cannon had become something of a forgotten man for the U.S. He earned a call for the first competitive matches of coach Gregg Berhalter’s National Team tenure only after Tyler Adams was forced to withdraw through injury.
Cannon appreciates the strides he made in the Gold Cup. He handed a large portion of the credit to the coach who originally snubbed him, Gregg Berhalter. “I think the difference is that set of confidence Greg instilled in me, the confidence that I needed to kind of make that Gold Cup run.”
Cannon still sounds just a bit surprised by his rapid ascent up the USMNT ladder. “You know, from being the last guy called into camp to playing the Gold Cup final against Mexico, one of the biggest -the biggest game of my life. I think that’s super important coming into these games. Greg continually gives me confidence.”
With the pressure of the Gold Cup absent from this two-game set versus Mexico and Uruguay, and with perhaps one eye on next month’s CONCACAF Nations League, Berhalter has called in a young group.
Cannon acknowledged as much, “Yeah, the average age, it’s pretty young for this camp. And I think Greg’s really trying to get people situated and get into the concept of national team, you know, people have different paths, different timelines, but you just come in and the youth wave for us to coming.”
Part of that “youth wave” is Atlanta United center-back, Miles Robinson. In a conference call last week, Berhalter said of Robinson that “form pushed [him] into the team.”
So, what role can we expect Robinson to play for the national team?
Robinson did not seem too sure when High Press Soccer grabbed him for a quick 1 on 1 chat on Tuesday. The 22-year-old said, “…just trying to be out here, competing, play hard and know the experience, get to understand the guys and stuff like that.”
If Robinson sounds delighted to be here that is because he is.
“Gregg called me saying how do you feel about being in the camp and all that. So it’s pretty awesome.”
Although a newcomer to the full national team, Robinson is well aware of the importance of the USA/Mexico rivalry. “Yeah, definitely,” the Atlanta defender told High Press Soccer. “It’s an honor to be out here with the guys and now representing the country and it should be a good one.”
“And,” Robinson concluded, “I think the guys are ready.”
Where to Bet USMNT vs Mexico in the US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Unlike the Premier League, the European summer transfer window was open until Monday, September 2nd. This allowed French giants Paris Saint-Germain to have their last laugh with a deadline day stunner.
After an ironically somber transfer window which saw them invest in hard-working stars rather than overpriced big names, everything was undone when Mauro Icardi arrived in Paris. Being unable to find suitors in Real Madrid or Juventus, the Argentine had no option but to join the cash-rich French giants.
Now on the face of it, an attacking line consisting of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Icardi looks sumptuous. Four of the top frontline players together should surely excite PSG fans, right?
Well, not really.
You see, Icardi brings controversy wherever he goes. There’s a reason he was exiled by Inter Milan and Antonio Conte didn’t even consider him. PSG might learn his self-destructive ability the hard way.
A look at Icardi’s heinous past
Mauro Icardi is not only a “bad boy” in the European soccer scene, but he’s earned his reputation for all the wrong reasons. There’s no doubting his ability as a top-quality striker. He scored 111 goals in just under 200 league appearances for Inter in his six seasons.
However, his reputation behind the scenes has plagued his popularity among the faithful. While a spectacular player, he’s a rotten person inside. It all started with his relationship with Argentinean media personality Wanda Nara, who was the wife of his former teammate Maxi Lopez. The same person, incidentally, was Icardi’s “idol” growing up. The three became close when Lopez took him under his wing at Inter.
However, what started as a mentorship soon turned very personal. Wanda and Icardi started cheating behind Lopez’s back, which he soon discovered. She divorced the Argentinean striker and soon married Icardi. What made things worse is that Mauro had Lopez’s kid’s names tattooed on his shoulders. He then barred Lopez from meeting his children following Nara getting custody in the divorce.
This all really happened!
This horrible backstabbing tale has made the 26-year-old Argentine a hated figure in his home country, a reason for which he’s rarely selected for the national team despite being such a clinical striker. He’s had rows with many personalities, including Diego Maradona, for his dirtiness. Inter fans wanted him sold in 2016 after he bashed them in his autobiography.
PSG’s usual suspects
It’s not like PSG are lacking divisive characters in their dressing room. Neymar remains their poster boy after flirting with a return to Spain all summer long. At one point it even looked certain. Now he’s gone to court suing his former club for €26 million ($28 million) in due bonuses.
The Brazilian’s a unique specimen when playing. Ligue 1’s almost too easy. But constant injuries, flirting with a move away has ticked off the fans. Moreover, his ego is off the charts, often causing dressing room disputes.
As if Neymar isn’t enough, Edinson Cavani’s another self-appointed locker room leader always getting caught in problems. Who can forget when he denied Neymar a penalty and took it himself to increase his goal-scoring charts. The “senior-most” figure in the Parisian front-line, the Uruguyan’s arrogance is another plague.
Kylian Mbappe’s still a kid, but even he’s hungry for the spotlight when on the field. This often causes malfunctions in their attacking style, leading to upsets in big games against less talented squads.
If these three stars don’t have enough problems, Marco Veratti’s party-holic lifestyle makes him another polarizing character.
What could go wrong?
Well, quite a lot. PSG are juggling with too many balls and things could come crashing down very badly. Icardi’s the latest chemical to stir into the pot hoping to get a Champions League-winning combination. Instead, this could explode in their faces and create a huge PR nightmare.
The reason Icardi wasn’t picked up by anybody was that he’s known to be a dressing room destroyer. He’s capable of completely downing team morale with his off-the-field antics. He was stripped off Inter’s captaincy after confronting former teammate Marcelo Brozovic about an alleged affair with his wife. The guy is non-stop drama.
There’s already a good chunk of ego holding PSG back. If the Neymar-Cavani-Mbappe characters weren’t big enough, now an even more feisty one is joining in. Of course, this explosive attacking line could have bombastic results. PSG’s world-class trio provided 66 league goals last season and after watching Icardi’s impressive numbers, that should grow.
Even Champions League quality sides will have trouble containing that dangerous attack. But as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool proved, humility and togetherness is key towards going all the way. The way in which Salah-Mane-Firmino kept their personalities aside to operate as a fierce combination was inspirational.
However, for a similar thing to be reflected at PSG, Thomas Tuchel will need to perform a miracle. If anything goes wrong, he’ll be made the scapegoat. However, in their bid to remain a relevant “European giant,” PSG might’ve just shot themselves in the foot by bringing Icardi in.
If he shows his true colours soon, one controversial scuffle after another could doom their season. Their locker room is a ticking time bomb ready for implosion and once it does, it’ll burn the reputation they’ve earned in recent years.
By this point, it’s hard to argue that LAFC isn’t the greatest team MLS has ever seen.
They’ve won 19 of their 28 games, lead the league by 12 points, and are basically unbeatable at home (unless you’re Minnesota, apparently). They are on pace to squash the single-season points record set last year by the New York Red Bulls. They’re already tied for second most goals in a season, and have only given up 30, the best defensive record in the league.
With surefire MVP Carlos Vela and an astounding team of best XI players and award winners (Walker Zimmerman is the probable DOTY and Bob Bradley is the probable COTY), I’d take LA in a matchup against any MLS team in history.
But imagine this hypothetical: LAFC does not win MLS Cup in November. Say they make the final but get blitzed by Atlanta United, or perhaps fall prior to the final in a wild El Trafico against their kryptonite, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy. Such a flop would change their legacy, right?
Supporters’ Shield vs MLS Cup
This gets back to an enduring philosophical MLS dilemma: Is it better to win the Supporters’ Shield or MLS Cup?
The Shield is for the best regular season team, and the Cup for the winner of the playoffs. While the Shield may indicate the superior team over the entirety of the season, the Cup is the true champion. Players and fans want the Cup more than anything else. The MLS Cup champion defines the season, honoring the team that was able to get it done when it mattered.
You could argue that the Shield is better to win, because it means you’ve played well for a long stretch. But at the very least, perception rests on playoff performance — as is to be expected in American sports, the postseason is the true barometer, no matter the randomness and variability.
So there is certainly an argument that an MLS Cup is necessary for LAFC to say they are the “greatest MLS team ever,” even if they may very well be favored in a matchup against any other historical lineup. Two years ago, Toronto FC won every title they possibly could, and then lost the Concacaf Champions League final on a coin flip the following year. They are the team to beat for LAFC.
2019 LAFC = 2007 New England Patriots
The obvious comparison for the Black and Gold, if they were to finish without a Cup, is the 2007 New England Patriots. The Pats went 16-0 in the regular season and then lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. Those Patriots were dominant, with a record-setting Tom Brady and Randy Moss. They might well be the best NFL team of all time regardless of the loss to the Giants.
For LAFC, their legacy will come down to their performance in the playoffs — more specifically, the nature of any potential loss. An early flame out, similar to last season’s, would disqualify them. Something more understandable, or subject to variability, would simply relegate them to a status as the team that couldn’t get it done when it mattered, even if they maintain the greatest title in the aggregate.
By the eye test, they are simply outstanding, and come close to making this whole discussion moot. Vela is the best the league has ever seen. The defense is mistake-free and rarely comes up short in emergency defending situations. The midfield is far and away the best in the league, with two legitimate best XI contenders. You could go on and on, and we have. LAFC deserve the plaudits.
When the dust has settled, we’ll probably be thinking of this team as the best in league history. They almost certainly won’t suffer some major playoff upset. Without a ring, they will add only a caveat — albeit a pretty noticeable one — to their legacy.
New High Press Pod is up!
Chops is joined by Tyler Everett to discuss:
- Premier League pretenders and contenders
- La Liga pretenders and contenders
- The four teams who can win the Champions League
- The two teams who can win the Europa League
- The thud and dud of the transfer window ending