Mexico vs USMNT live, 2022 World Cup qualifier preview: The longtime giants of CONCACAF are set to renew their bitter rivalry when the Yanks travel south to Estadio Azteca on Thursday (10 pm ET).
The challenge is even greater than usual for Gregg Berhalter and Co., this time around, as the USMNT will be without five likely starters due to a rash of injuries suffered in recent days and weeks.
First, defender Chris Richards picked up an ankle injury in the 2-0 defeat away to Canada in January; midfielder Weston McKennie broke his foot amid some of his best form since joining Juventus; goalkeeper Matt Turner suffered a foot injury just days before the New England Revolution’s 2022 opener and is yet to make his season debut; right back Sergiño Dest damaged his hamstring; and finally, over the weekend, Brenden Aaronson sprained an MCL. None of the four players, all of whom have been or became established starters during the first 11 games of World Cup qualifying, are in US Men’s National Team camp this week.
In their absences, the likes of Zack Steffen (injured throughout much of World Cup qualifying), Kellyn Acosta (four starts in WCQ), Walker Zimmerman (rotational starter at center back), Reggie Cannon or DeAndre Yedlin (four starts between them this cycle), and Gio Reyna (injured since his last USA appearance in September) will be asked to step up and end the USMNT’s eight-year wait for a return to the World Cup.
How to watch Mexico vs USMNT World Cup qualifier live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10 pm ET, Thursday (March 24)
All-time series leader: Mexico – 36 wins, USA – 22 wins, Draws – 15
Current FIFA rankings: Mexico – 12th, USA – 13th
Live analysis: Here on ProSoccerTalk
On-site: NBC Sports’ Nick Zaccardi will be at the Azteca
TV channel/streaming: CBS Sports Network, Paramount+, Univision, TUDN
The stakes are high for both sides, as they sit 2nd (USA) and 3rd (Mexico) in the CONCACAF table, level with one another on 21 points. The USMNT secured another famous 2-0 victory over El Tri back in November. The USMNT has never won a World Cup qualifier at Estadio Azteca, making Thursday a rare opportunity for a first-ever WCQ double over Mexico.
A victory would put either side on the cusp of securing qualification to next winter’s tournament in Qatar, while a defeat could see either slip to within one point of 4th place (inter-confederation playoffs) with only two games left.
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Mexico vs USMNT lineup, score, updates, live analysis
90th minute plus stoppage: Well… it went exactly how it was going to look when you go from pressing your foot down on the gas pedal to telling Mexico to have at it for the final 10-plus minutes. Read more about that here.
Gregg Berhalter announces after the game that Shaq Moore will be called into camp for the matches against Panama and Costa Rica following Reggie Cannon’s positive COVID test.
80th minute: Berhalter is making some weird, weird subs, going to four center backs, in a sense, by removing right back Yedlin and center mid Adams for Erik Palmer-Brown and Aaron Long.
We’ll just let that sit here for you. And then add that Christian Pulisic was removed minutes later for Jordan Morris, who nearly conceded a penalty.
73rd minute: Gregg Berhalter is denied a chance for his two subs and big center midfield chance to make him look like a genius.
Kellyn Acosta spots Giovanni Reyna, who cushion a ball to Pefok in the heart of the box.
The Young Boys center forward half-shoots, half-tries to find Reyna with a return pass. It’s a mess and it stinks and it should be 1-0 (again).
70th minute: Walker Zimmerman has had a good game and is having none of Raul Jimenez’s bid to buy a penalty off the Yanks center back.
It’s telltale that one of Mexico’s very best players felt it important to try and hit the deck in the box, where El Tri has so rarely lived tonight.
60th minute: These are good subs. Pepi will not make a difference as he’s off the pitch for red-hot Young Boys striker Jordan Pefok, and TImothy Weah is off for Giovanni Reyna.
Weah looked good early but someone had to come off and it wasn’t going to be Pulisic.
51st minute: Heart-in-throat time as Chucky Lozano can’t get in front of DeAndre Yedlin but the TV viewer doesn’t know that as Zack Steffen lets a good-looking cross zip through the six.
Another note: Ricardo Pepi has been essentially silent for a half-hour or more. We’ve said that before and seen him deliver on his next chance. Could this be that, again?
49th minute: Kellyn Acosta slips Pulisic into the box but there are no runners at the back post and the Chelsea star settles for a hard shot and resulting corner kick.
The Yanks get the corner service from Acosta and a second ball but can’t manufacture real danger and it remains 0-0.
A goal could mean first place on the table as Canada’s Mark Anthony Kaye has picked up a very CONCACAF second yellow and the table-leaders trail at Costa Rica after Panama drew Honduras.
It has to be said that the U.S. has been largely better but that’s not saying a ton given how poorly Mexico has played over the first 45 minutes.
Tata Martino will be furious with Mexico’s performance but happy to be headed into the break at 0-0.
How will Berhalter feel about the fact that the Yanks should be ahead 1-0 through Pulisic and might’ve been up even earlier when Ochoa denied Weah?
Mexico will expect more out of its forward and perhaps even make a change, and Martino will know he’s one goal away from ruining the Yanks’ great effort.
The big question: Will Gregg Berhalter go for it, or settle in for a point?
Here are the numbers…
Mexico vs USMNT halftime stats
Mexico 0, USMNT 0
Shot attempts: Mexico 4, USMNT 4
Shots on goal: Mexico 1, USMNT 3
Possession: Mexico 57, USMNT 43
36th minute: Oh, it should be 1-0 to the visitors.
Timothy Weah is having a day with the left side of the Mexican formation, and his cross finds Christian Pulisic on the doorstep.
Is this the latest installment of Captain America as El Tri haunter? Nope. Pulisic flutters his shot off the arm of a desperate Ochoa. A good save from the veteran but it should’ve been 1-0 to the Yanks at Azteca.
It doesn’t not improve with each viewing.
🔥⚽🧤 ¡Atajadón! ¡Guillermo Ochoa le quita el gol a Christian Pulisic!
📲🔴 ¡EN VIVO! https://t.co/A2Uew5a4j2
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) March 25, 2022
23rd minute: Now Tyler Adams plays Timothy Weah down the right side and it’s another foul and an even more dangerous free kick.
This time, it’s Christian Pulisic lording over the effort.
The chance goes for nothing as Mexico gets the ball out of bounds on the right.
21st minute: Christian Pulisic wins a free kick and a yellow card off of Edson Alvarez, who will now miss Mexico’s next qualifier.
The chance is dead center and 35 yards away from goal, which is not shooting country against a keeper as good as Memo Ochoa.
Or is it? It isn’t Kellyn Acosta strikes it solid but right at Ochoa.
13th minute: We’ve got chances!
First, it’s Zack Steffen collecting a Cesar Montes header off a Tecatito cross, and the Yanks counter through Antonee Robinson on the left.
The Fulham man has had tricky moments at the back already but his cross makes its way to Timothy Weah for a less than full-force shot that Memo Ochoa palms out for a corner (which comes to nothing).
🧤⚽🔥 ¡Remate de Musah y Ochoa manda a tiro de esquina!
¡Qué cerca Team USA de marcar el primero!
📲🔴 ¡EN VIVO! https://t.co/A2Uew5a4j2
— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) March 25, 2022
9th minute: Anything but fluid, although a nice Tecatito move in the midfield springs Mexico down the right.
Antonee Robinson is caught twice being a little too aggressive but there’s no payoff for El Tri.
1st minute: The Yanks come out of the gates fast and are pressing Mexico high up the field with numbers. Memo Ochoa is forced to intervene inside of the first 60 seconds and there are promising signs for the Yanks in a daunting atmosphere.
As an aside, Panama’s halftime lead over Honduras adds pressure to both teams’ need to create space from Los Canaleros in addition to each other.
9:44pm ET: Nerves? Yeah, we got ’em.
Hector Herrera may no longer be the surefire best midfielder in CONCACAF but he’s got a lot of big-match experience at Azteca against good opposition. The Yanks will be missing Weston McKennie and he’s the piece that give Berhalter superior footing in the middle of the park. Kellyn Acosta is good and Yunus Musah could be very good, but the former can be erratic and the latter is quite green.
9:06pm ET: The lineups are out and there are not too many surprises considering we knew Gregg Berhalter wouldn’t have access to Weston McKennie (foot), Brenden Aaronson (knee), Sergiño Dest (hamstring), Chris Richards (ankle), and Matt Turner (foot).
McKennie and Aaronson missed the 2-0 win in the reverse fixture, but this is a very similar cast. The bad news is that Reggie Cannon’s absence is COVID-related and Yedlin is the only dedicated right back currently with the team. Perhaps Joe Scally might get a call?
The Azteca XI. 🇺🇸
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) March 25, 2022