The United States and Mexico are set to square off again in North America's hottest international rivalry Sunday (live, 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1). The last time these two foes battled, it was the opening match of the Hex round of 2018 World Cup qualifying.
How did that match pan out, and how have the Americans fared since they last took on El Tri back in November?
November 11: USA 1-2 Mexico
The last time the United States took on Mexico, the match didn't go well for the USMNT. El Tri came away with a statement win on American soil, and the US were in an early hole in qualifying. Bobby Wood scored the lone goal for the U.S. in a chippy match at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, the site of a number of "Dos a Cero" scorelines. A total of eight players on both sides saw yellow cards in the contest, further proving the heat in the rivalry is no joke. Carlos Salcedo even picked up a late red for double-yellows. In the end, the Americans fell after Rafa Marquez broke the 1-1 tie in the 88th minute.
November 15: Costa Rica 4-0 USA
The U.S. didn't have much time to wash the taste of defeat to Mexico out of their mouths before visiting Costa Rica. The Americans were ran out of the Estadio Nacional in Costa Rica, losing to the tune of 4-0 as Johan Venegas and Cristian Bolanos both scored and Joel Campbell broke their backs with a brace. As the scoreline indicates, the defense was abject on the day. John Brooks, in particular, had a forgettable day, as labeling the American defense "disorganized" would have been a compliment. As such, the U.S. had zero points to show from their first games of the Hex. Perhaps more pivotally: The back-to-back losses spelled the end of the Klinsmann Era at the USMNT helm. He was let go on Nov. 21.
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January 29: USA 0-0 Serbia
Bruce Arena got his hands on the USMNT for the second time after Klinsmann's departure and was fortunate enough to have a pair of friendlies with which he could tinker. Still, time was at a premium and the U.S. were in dire straights in World Cup qualifying. January's 0-0 draw didn't fall on an official FIFA date, so Arena called a largely MLS-based roster, but it still offered the new manager a chance to see his charges in a competitive setting. Even with his European-based players out, Arena still got a look at a number of starters, like Jozy Altidore. The draw wasn't exactly a confidence-booster, but there were positives to draw from the friendly.
February 3: USA 1-0 Jamaica
Another friendly contest, the match against Jamaica gave Arena his first win in his second stint as USMNT manager. Again, the squad wasn't what he'd be working with in World Cup qualifying, but the match gave him the opportunity to test a few players. Chief among those given a trial run were Juan Agudelo and Jordan Morris, paired at the top of the attack as the strikers. It looked as though Arena wanted to see what kind of striker depth he was working with. Although Morris scored the match-winner, the two forwards didn't do a whole lot to instill bunches of confidence that they could be relied upon in World Cup qualifying come March.
March 24: USA 6-0 Honduras
Finally, relief! After agonizing about their performance in the opening rounds of the Hex, USMNT fans could breathe after the team routed Honduras. Clint Dempsey picked up a hat trick in the 6-0 blowout as the U.S. collected three critical points in the match. Adding to Dempsey's impressive performance was that he had been battling health issues in the months leading up to the contest. It was a good thing he could come back, obviously. Losing Sebastian Lletget and John Brooks was concerning, but there was little else to take the gloss off the dominating victory.
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March 28: Panama 1-1 USA
The USMNT hype train had to slow down once it got to Panama as the Americans settled for a draw in Central America. The rule of thumb for qualifying is: Win at home, draw away, and you'll be fine. The Americans managed that as rising phenom Christian Pulisic embraced his role in the creative midfield. The teenager solidified himself as one of the USMNT's best players, assisting on Clint Dempsey's opening goal and surviving kick after kick from the Panamanians. That he was getting so much attention showed how big of a threat teams recognize him to be. With a draw in Panama, the U.S. were just about back on track when it came to World Cup qualifying.
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June 4: USA 1-1 Venezuela
In a tune-up ahead of World Cup qualifying, the U.S. would have liked to have earned a win ... but the Vinotinto proved a stern test. The USMNT conceded on a set piece as Venezuela took an early lead, but Tim Howard kept the South Americans off the board the rest of the way. Once again, it was Christian Pulisic who stole the show for the USMNT. He played the No. 10 role for Bruce Arena yet again and wound up scoring the equalizer. It wasn't a perfect performance, but the U.S. had to feel comfortable going back into World Cup qualifying. One major warning sign, though: The Americans conceded yet again on a set piece.
June 8: USA 2-0 Trinidad & Tobago
Nerves started to perk up as the United States weren't able to break through against T&T in the first half of the World Cup qualifier in Commerce City, Colo. Furthermore, the Trinidad & Tobago front line found a number of good chances against Tim Howard and the USMNT but couldn't finish them in the end. Whatever Bruce Arena said to his squad at halftime worked, though. The Americans came out firing in the second half as Christian Pulisic (who else?) scored the eventual match-winner in the 52nd minute. He got a second 10 minutes later to give the U.S. a boost heading into their clash with Mexico on Sunday (live, 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1). Perhaps too much confidence, though? The young American said the U.S. will "come out with a win" in Mexico City, which is quite the bold proclamation.