CARSON, CA - JULY 23: Villafana: Representing Chivas USA for the USMNT U23s (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
It's an international day on the soccer calendar, and between the U.S. Men's National Team victory against Italy in Genoa earlier and Mexico taking on Colombia this evening in Miami there's plenty of action for North American soccer fans. One other international friendly may be of note to Chivas USA fans. The USMNT U23 squad is set to host their Mexican counterparts tonight at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas (7 pm PST, Univision). It will be the last major test for both squads ahead of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will begin next month in Nashville and Carson.
Both the U.S. and Mexico are expected to be at the London Olympics this summer, and if either team (or even both) fail to reach the final of the Olympic tournament (and subsequent qualification) it will be seen as a major failure in the national team programs. The expectation is that these teams will meet again in a competitive match in less than a month - will it be the final of the tournament?For Chivas USA, this match is important because midfielder/defender Jorge Villafana is on the roster for the Americans. He's been getting consistent call-ups to the recent U23 training camps, and has been starting recent scrimmages at left back. With few strong options at the position, he seems to have an inside track to getting on the qualifying tournament squad, and it will be interesting to see if he starts tonight. If he does, and if he acquits himself well, the signs will all point to him making the squad for the tournament. I'm not sure if he is on the bubble or is well inside U23 coach Caleb Porter's core, but it seems like another chapter in the story of "Sueño" is about to really be made.
The match will probably be pretty competitive, but it's worth noting that Mexico has a very strong squad. We'll have to wait and see how both the Americans and Mexicans perform at the upcoming tournament to handicap their respective chances at the Olympics, but if Mexico advances and performs well in the tournament, they will likely be in the mix for medals. For the Americans? I'm not sure if the reasonable expectations will be so high, but again, let's cross that bridge when we come to it.
At any rate, tonight's match under the bright lights will be as good a tune-up as each side can expect heading into the tournament. The Americans will be playing in Texas, so it's a home match, but there will obviously be a significant (even perhaps a majority) contingent of Mexico fans. My prediction? 2-1 Mexico.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!