'We want 3 points': USMNT prepares ahead of USA/Mexico match in Cincinnati
Members of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team got their first touches on the field at Cincinnati's TQL Stadium Thursday morning. The team faces rival Mexico here Friday night in a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup.
"We want to have three points after this game," midfielder Tyler Adams told media Thursday afternoon. "This is a big game, a home game. We're going to have a good energy with the crowd that we're going to have here in Cincinnati."
Adams says he expects a well-organized Mexican side and game with a lot of tenacity, grit and bite.
"I've played in a couple of games against Mexico now and all the games ... require a lot of energy, a lot of focus, a lot of determination on both sides of the ball. I've been mentally preparing for that," he says. "The team has been well-prepared throughout this week."
He adds having an extra day of training has been helpful - this qualifying window includes two matches, compared to the usual three.
As for the atmosphere, Head Coach Gregg Berhalter says "we know we're going to have a fantastic crowd and we know the stadium's going to be erupting."
This is the sixth straight time this match has been played in Ohio, and the first outside of Columbus. Berhalter was asked about the balancing act of choosing a venue with a home field advantage while also growing the USA's Latino fan base.
"It's not about who you are, it's about who you support and we want fans in the stands that are going to be pro-U.S. supporters. ... Remember the environment in (El Salvador)? Remember how hostile it was? That brings their team to life and we're hoping for the same type of response from the crowd, and then the reaction from the team. We know how a good crowd can boost the team."
The match is part of a 14-game qualifying schedule referred to as the "octagon" or "octagonal." Eight countries from the CONCACAF region are battling for three spots in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The fourth place team will enter inter-confederation play for a final spot.
Following the first two qualifying windows, the USA sits in second place with 11 points and a 3-1-2 record.
Fans attending the game are encouraged to arrive early. Central Parkway southbound in front of TQL Stadium will close starting at 7 a.m. on Friday. Other FC Cincinnati game day street closures will also be in place. Additional security and law enforcement will be around town. The streetcar is adding service on Friday and will run until 1 a.m.
Fan HQ opens in front of the stadium at 5:30 p.m. TQL Stadium gates open at 7 p.m. and the team suggests getting into the stadium early. A light and pyrotechnic show is slated for 8:30 p.m. Kick-off is set for 9:10 p.m. The game is being broadcast on ESPN2 (beginning at 9 p.m.), Univision and TUDN.
What to do if you aren't going to the game
For fans who don't have tickets but still want to participate in the game day festivities or watch the match, there are lots of events planned from Thursday evening through Friday night.
The Banks is hosting a watch party Friday. Starting at 6 p.m., the UC football game against South Florida will be broadcast on the big screen on Great American Ball Park. Watch party events get going at 7 p.m. with a DJ and other promotions. The game will be broadcast on the big screen beginning at 9 p.m.
The game will also be on the big screen at Washington Park and pre-game festivities there begin at 4 p.m., according to 3CDC.
Buildings across the Cincinnati skyline are being lit in red, white and blue and people across the city are encouraged to wear red, white and blue Friday.
Here's the roster for the November window provided by U.S. Soccer
Detailed Roster by Position (Club/Country; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 24/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 12/0)
DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 22/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 4/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 17/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 14/3), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 0/0), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp/BEL; 8/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 69/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 20/2)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 42/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 20/1), Gianluca Busio (Venezia/ITA; 7/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 33/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 27/7), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 9/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 29/0) FORWARDS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 13/5), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 41/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 2/2), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 4/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 40/16), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 16/1)
The matches are scheduled during a FIFA international window, making all players available for selection. While teams can summon a larger group, the game day roster for World Cup Qualifiers may only include 23 players.