2016 U-20s Women's World Cup Preview: USA vs Mexico

Two experienced sides from the same continent battle it out as Dos A Cero comes to the U-20 Women's World Cup.

2016 U-20s Women's World Cup Preview: USA vs Mexico
Image credit: Getty Images

The second day of Quarter Final matches play host to traditional derbies from around the globe. The first: USA and Mexico.

Since 2001 the Dos A Cero has been building up into a heated clash, exciting the crowds as any derby does. In addition to the historical significance of the tie, the current intersecting issues in politics between the two nations adds a little more flavour.

The men's national sides showed that football is about uniting with each other in competition in their most recent meeting, just days after the election. However, the story created, and undoubtedly that will be the case for many with this U-20 Women's World Cup QF match.

This is the first meeting of the U-20 Women's squad and there is no better place for it - the world stage!

Head to head

The Stars and Stripes have featured in each of the seven World Cups at this age group and more importantly, have won three. The side are keen favourites to go far in this tournament given their roster which boasts a wealth of talent, experience and drive.

On the other hand, Mexico have only failed to qualify for the 2004 edition of the tournament in ThailandThough they are in the tournament so often they are almost furniture, the side rarely makes it past the group stages. In 2010 and 2012 they made it to the quarter finals but were sharply knocked out by South Korea and Nigeria respectively.

What more motivation do they need to beat their record than to play against rivals?

Both sides have had a decent run so far in PNG with the USA just edging it with an undefeated record, but with only one win. Mexico were subject to a thrashing from Germany, a sobering game after their emphatic 2-0 opening game win. However, El Triocolor picked themselves up in order to go on and finish the job in a tense, five goal thriller against Venezuela.

Key players

Captain Mallory Pugh is not stranger to high pressure situations. At the ripe age of 17 she made her senior team debut, a squad that is constantly scrutinised especially after a shock exit from the Olympics in Rio this year, with no medal. Inside of the tournament in PNG, Pugh has been exceptional in terms of leading her team but also in front of net scoring 50% of the USA's goals. Most importantly equalising in their final game, just two minutes after the side conceded.

She is not the only star among the squad, despite her experience in large tournaments. Ashley Sanchez, who captained the U-17 squad in Jordan just one month ago has slotted in perfectly. The forward pairs up perfectly, their understanding of each other and the game allows them to string together intricate passes and through balls.

In addition to Sanchez, Katie Cousins has also been a welcome creative addition to the US midfield.  She was recognised by FIFA in their draw against Ghana, as they awarded her Player of the Match.

Now, it is not just the US with the stars. Mexico's Maria Sanchez has been exceptional for her country, even making an appearance in the 2015 Women's World Cup. In the midfield position, Sanchez runs riot, dazzling the crowds with her ability to dribble and deliver Hollywood-esque balls into the box.

Often on the receiving end of Sanchez's advances is number nine, Kiana Palacios who is formidable in front of goal. The striker has netted three times in three appearances. Her quick runs, attacking finesse and determination have earned her Player of the Match status.

 Given the quality in attack, the goal, but the USA displayed their defensive ability when up against European giants France, while Mexico have leaked a lot more goals. It could be high scoring for both teams, perhaps one sided but it will definitely be a highlight of the tournament.