Jurgen Klinsmann vs. Juan Carlos Osorio: USA, Mexico manager watch
Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States meet Juan Carlos Osorio and Mexico to kick off the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying on Friday at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. For both managers, the pressure is on. Who comes into the clash more in need of a result? We asked our experts Jeff Carlisle and Tom Marshall to assess the bosses head-to-head.
How they're doing
Jeff Carlisle: Unlike earlier this year, Klinsmann is on solid footing as the final round Hexagonal begins. The U.S. reached its goal of making the semifinals at last summer's Copa America Centenario, cruised through the remainder of the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying and, perhaps most importantly, answered some vexing personnel questions, like the composition of Klinsmann's back line.
Tom Marshall: Osorio is under pressure. The Mexican media turned on him following the 7-0 loss against Chile in the Copa America Centenario and there have been few kind words about the manager since. Indeed, there have been rumors of replacements and former managers like Miguel Herrera and Hugo Sanchez haven't exactly been gushing in their praise of the Colombian.
JC: History dictates that this is a match the U.S. is expecting to win. The last time the U.S. failed to beat Mexico in a World Cup qualifier on home soil was back in 1997. Yes, Mexico prevailed in the CONCACAF Cup last year, but Klinsmann has a lot to live up to here.
TM: Expectation and reality can be two different things in Mexico. The expectation is that Mexico will go to Columbus and win. Whenever and wherever El Tri meets the United States, it is expected to earn victory. The reality is that this is Mexico's most difficult game in the Hexagonal stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. History has taught us that. And the United States is a strong side. Coming away with a point from MAPFRE Stadium would be an excellent start to what should be a tight qualifying campaign.
What's at stake
JC: A win will allow the U.S. to get off to a tension-free start in the Hex. The U.S. has to play Costa Rica four days later, and if the Americans get only a point out of the match against Mexico, all of a sudden there will be immense pressure heaped upon Klinsmann and the team.
TM: It's not a personal view, but the narrative around the game from the Mexican perspective is that Osorio's legitimacy as Mexico manager is on the line. The manager has stressed recently that the players back his methods, his playing philosophy and therefore his right to continue to build something with El Tri.
Should Mexico manage to get a result in Columbus it would be a huge boost for Osorio. It would silence some of the fierce critics, especially with Herrera having made no secret of the fact he'd like to return to the national team. A heavy loss, however, would deepen the questions surrounding whether Osorio is the right person to take the team forward. The Mexican federation has never been known for its patience with managers, and Osorio needs his team to send a clear message that another 7-0-style loss is not around the corner.
Quote from manager
JC: "Obviously the Mexico clash is a six-pointer to start the Hexagonal right away. We badly want to continue the tradition of beating them in Columbus." --Klinsmann
TM: "We see it as a fantastic opportunity to go there and change the story and break that statistic. We'll play [against] a strong team, with their fans, in a stadium that historically hasn't been good for Mexico. But the opportunity is exactly that." -- Osorio
Biggest current issue
JC: The absence due to injury of Geoff Cameron is a big blow. While the U.S. has some depth at center-back, he and John Brooks had formed a solid partnership in the back. The rest of the starting XI looks pretty set.
TM: Hector Herrera. The Porto midfielder has been out of form of late and despite being one of the regulars over the last few years, the 26-year-old faces some stiff competition for the start against the United States. Osorio could opt for in-form Marco Fabian, Villarreal's Jonathan dos Santos or make the bold move to start Chivas' exciting 20-year-old midfielder Orbelin Pineda.
Aside from Herrera's role, all eyes will be on Rafa Marquez. The 37-year-old has endured torrid experiences in Columbus, but he surely will be desperate to get a chance of revenge in what will be his last opportunity. Osorio will think long and hard about whether to play the Atlas captain.
JC: That depends on which segment of the fan base you're talking about. Klinsmann still divides opinion on a massive scale. He also seems perpetually to be one bad result away from being on the hot seat.
Fan rating: 7/10
TM: Mexico fans and media have struggled to grasp what Osorio is attempting to do with El Tri and the wound of the 7-0 loss is still fresh.
Fan rating: 4/10
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