June 19, 2024

Where Pulisic, McKennie, Ochoa compete

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The US And Mexico takes on a curiously scheduled friendly game on Wednesday, with mostly young players MLS And League MX.

Considering this game is taking place outside of FIFA’s international window and both squads are missing their big stars, we’ll see some promising youngsters and domestic league regulars. Given that this show is more watered down than usual, we asked: What would a combined US-Mexico All-Star XI look like — even if the stars from those two teams aren’t in that particular game?

Christian Pulisic paired with Santiago Gimenez at the top? Memo Ochoa ordered around the “MMA” midfield? Here’s how ESPN correspondents Jeff Carlisle, Cesar HernandezAnd Kyle Bonagura compiled their lists.

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Carlisle XI: Place for Reyna as ‘Chucky’ not first choice

Forward: Pulisic, Gimenez, Reyna
Midfield player: McKennie, Alvarez, Musah
Defender: Gallardo, Ries, Montes, Dest
Goalkeeper: Ochoa

Photo credit: Chosen11


There are many photo finishes in terms of who gets into this roster and who doesn’t, which isn’t a surprise given how evenly balanced these two teams have been over the years. in gate, Guillermo Ochoa‘s red hot form for Series A Page Salernitana just cut off arsenal‘S Matt Turner. In defense, it even goes with left-back honor Jesus Gallardo and centre-back Caesar Montes represent El Tri during the evergreen Tim Riem And Sergino goal occupy the positions of centre-back and right-back respectively.

In midfield, number 6 is probably the hardest to choose LeedsUnited‘S Tyler Adams And ajax‘S Edson Alvarez. Both excel in terms of defensive prowess, but Alvarez gets the nod as he’s slightly better on the ball and occasionally shows up for goals. The Remaining Members of the US “MMA” Midfield – Weston McKennie And Yunus Musah — Round off the engine room, with Luis Chavez the strange man out.

In attack the US duo of Gio Reyna And Christian Pulisic occupy the wing positions. Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is a constant presence for Naples this season, but Reyna has scored twice as many goals this season Borussia Dortmund in about a third of the minutes. If his health allows, he will only get better.

Above, Santiago Gimenez stands for choice thanks to his 19 goals in all competitions Feyenoordjust good enough to hit groningen‘S Richard Pepi.

Hernandez XI: Pulisic paired with Gimenez for a powerful duo

Forward: Pulisic, Gimenez, Lozano
Midfield player: McKennie, Adams, Chavez
Defender: Robinson, Ries, Alvarez, Dest
Goalkeeper: Ochoa

Photo credit: Chosen11


Quinto Partido guaranteed with this squad. On the net, Ochoa is the easy answer as a starting goalkeeper following his recent exploits with Salernitana. Looking at the full-backs Mexico has a growing list of promising options, but I still believe Fulham‘S Antonia Robinson And AC Milan‘s Dest are a small step above their peers south of the border for the time being. In between, there would be no lack of leadership or defensive solidity in a Ream-Alvarez partnership.

In midfield, one cannot ignore the energetic Leeds duo of McKennie and Adams, who then leave another place in the heart of the XI. Musa and Erick Gutierrez could make great cases for themselves, but I’m sticking with it pachuca‘S Luis Chavez, who can provide enormous support in both defense and attack. We can’t forget his X-Factor either with free kicks and long-range shots.

On the wings, Pulisic and Lozano would give any opponent a headache with their potent mix of speed and clever dribbling. Reyna and Timothy Weah both just missed the cut for a spot on either side of my XI but would be immediate options off the bench – and they would be Carlo Vela in this fictional scenario in which he reopened the door to Mexico.

As the sole forward, we finally choose one of the most exciting young names in European football: Gimenez. While Pepi should deserve credit for his performances in the Eredivisie through Groningen, Gimenez has had a much better run in 2023 with 11 goals and one assist in his last 14 games for Feyenoord.

Bonagura XI: Alvarez on Adams in the new MMA midfield

Forward: Pulisic, Gimenez, Reyna
Midfield player: Musah, Alvarez, McKennie
Defender: Dest, Ries, Montes, Robinson
Goalkeeper: Ochoa

Photo credit: Chosen11


At the risk of sounding totally biased, I think we’re at a point now where it’s obvious that the US national team is in a much better position than Mexico. This weighs recent results, current talent, trajectory of player pools, etc. Wednesday’s friendly won’t provide much valuable data to add to the discussion, but it’s still fun to watch every iteration of the rivalry.

There’s a case for Lozano on the wing but – if all three players are healthy – he’s a step behind Pulisic and Reyna. That being said, none of the three has maxed out their abilities over the past year for various reasons. Gimenez or Pepi remain as strikers. They have had a similar performance in the Eredivisie this year (Gimenez 11 goals in 27 league games, Pepi 11 in 24). Gimenez gets the nod for now, but should Folarin Balogun make the switch from England to the United States, he’ll be well off the field.

For me, Musah is the best midfielder in the region. His ability to keep possession and move the ball forward is special, and his versatility makes him even more valuable. McKennie is similar in that he can affect the game in a number of ways – set pieces for example – and needs to be there. That leaves Adams or Alvarez (since Alvarez played in midfield rather than centre-back at the World Cup) for last place. While Adams has been America’s most important player in some games, his ballplay limitations favor Alvarez.

It’s hard to believe that this is 2023 and the best defender between Mexico and the United States is 35-year-old Ream, but here we are. USA’s pair of full-backs, Robinson and Dest (although Dest’s stock has cooled), is a fairly straightforward choice in my view, while the other center-back (Montes in this case) has no obvious choices.

I would have liked to have tried to prove Turner is better than Ochoa at this point, but as he is not a regular at Arsenal any advanced goalkeeping stats showing his worth feel too outdated for this exercise.

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