EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Mexico head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino agrees with U.S. boss Gregg Berhalter: Mexico has the edge over the Stars and Stripes right now.
Berhalter said earlier Thursday ahead of the friendly between the two sides in MetLife Stadium on Friday that he believed Mexico was “slightly ahead of us, having beaten us in the last game and having performed well over the last few years.”
Martino concurs, but doesn’t believe there is much in it.
“What I think is that Greg and I have a quite similar amount of time [in charge of our teams],” said Martino in a news conference on Thursday. “He probably had more knowledge of MLS when he took over than I had of Mexican football and the Mexican league.
“I think that as a general panorama, our players are competing in leagues that are better than the players in the United States national team and I also think that the Mexican league is above MLS, which means it’s very probable that [Berhalter] is right and that from his position he sees the Mexican national team as a little bit better than the U.S. in a general context.
“Having said that, these are two teams that compete well together,” continued the Argentine. “We won the Gold Cup final, I think justly, but it was quite an even game and I’m expecting as difficult a game [on Friday].”
Former Atlanta United manager Martino, who won MLS Cup in his second year in the league, praised the way players are increasingly being developed and exported from the United States to European leagues, but believes that Mexico also has the potential to export more youngsters.
“The United States has transformed into a country that exports a lot of young players to Europe,” said Martino. “Evidently the development of those players will bear fruits in the future for the United States national team.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t have the same possibility. I think we have some young players, and others that are already there, that could go to Europe soon and that would be beneficial for us.”
Martino will be without Monterrey center-back Cesar Montes and Tigres full-back Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez on Friday and confirmed that the team that faces the United States will be vastly different to the one to play Argentina on Tuesday in San Antonio.
Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozano, Miguel Layun, Jesus Corona and Hector Herrera are all in El Tri’s squad after missing the Gold Cup, but there have been some criticism of Martino for not including 19-year-old striker Jose Juan Macias, who is currently leading the Liga MX goal-scoring chart.
“The hurry comes from you guys [the press], not him and not me,” explained Martino, who hinted Macias would be included in the squads to play the CONCACAF Nations Leagues in October and November.