Mexico coach expects 'very different' US in June qualifier
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NEW YORK — Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio expects a "very different" United States team for their World Cup qualifier in June at Azteca Stadium.
Mexico beat the U.S. 2-1 in November in the start of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. After the Americans dropped their second game 4-0 against Costa Rica, coach Jurgen Klinsmann was fired and replaced by Bruce Arena.
In its first game under Arena, the U.S. won 6-0 against Honduras in March in San Jose, and tied 1-1 in Panama to climb to fourth place after four matches. Undefeated Mexico leads the way with three wins and a draw.
"The game on June 11 (in Mexico City) will be a very difficult match, and a very different one compared to the previous one in Columbus," Osorio said Thursday. "Mr. Arena will bring a very tough team to play against. He seems to always get the best out of the American players, and his teams are always very well organized, and they will have a plan."
The Colombian-born coach said Mexico will have a tough time preparing for its two upcoming qualifying matches — against Honduras on June 8 and the U.S. three days later, both in the thin air of Mexico City's famed Azteca Stadium. One week later, "El Tri" will face Portugal in its debut in the Confederations Cup in Russia.
"So that alone will bring another important factor into the equation," Osario said. "How we can manage to play three days after we play Honduras and put a very strong team on the field capable of winning a game that is crucial toward our objectives."
Osorio also highlighted the importance of emerging American star Christian Pulisic, who scored a goal and set up three others in the rout over Honduras. The 18-year old winger has also become a fixture in Bundesliga and European play with Borussia Dortmund.
"He is able to run with the ball, dribble past people, he is always good passer, can identify when and how to play elaborate football combinations," Osorio said. "He is a player who is very influential, not only in final result, who can score goals, but in the game itself."