Mexico (16th) is set to play Uruguay (5th) at NRG Stadium on Sept. 7, giving soccer fans an opportunity to watch two world-class teams square off. Uruguay is coming from their first match since their 2-0 loss in the World Cup quarterfinal against none other than the world champion, France. Uruguay’s most notable victories during the World Cup were 3-0 vs the host nation Russia, and 2-1 vs Crisitano Ronaldo’s (Juventus) Portugal in the round of 16. Elite players like Claudio Suarez (F.C. Barcelona), Diego Godin (Atletico de Madrid), and Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray) are on the active roster for their match vs. Mexico.
Mexico, on the other hand, is coming from what many fans consider a disappointing World Cup. El Tri seemed to regress as the tournament went on after their “golden generation” failed to pull through to the coveted fifth match that they’ve never reached. Their victories against Germany and South Korea were followed by two devastating defeats against Sweden, and the round of 16 elimination game vs Neymar’s (Paris Saint Germain) Brazil.
But regardless of the past, Mexico turns the page and they do so by facing a strong Uruguay. Mexico’s previous coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, denied a contract extension offered by the Mexican Soccer Federation and recently took the head coaching job for Paraguay. Mexico’s Interim coach, Ricardo “El Tuca” Ferreti , decided to devise a roster of fearless young players to face Uruguay in Houston, and the United States in Nashville just four days later. Even though Mexico’s roster may be full of youngsters, players like Hirving “El Chucky” Lozano (PSV Eindhoven), 18-year-old Diego Lainez (Club America), and Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul) are displaying quality in their clubs, giving Mexican fans hope for a possible World Cup appearance in Qatar 2022.
Houston is set to bid to be a host city for the North American World Cup in 2026, where each host city will host at least six matches. Mexico vs. Uruguay will offer Houstonians an early taste of what a World Cup atmosphere is like.
Per The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Framber Valdez plans on both he and the catcher calling pitches this year. He said he “wants to feel more comfortable,” adding “not that I don't feel comfortable with the catchers, but I want to feel comfortable and throw the pitches with more conviction…to feel like I have the game in my hands.”
Framber Valdez has the PitchCom device on his glove as he warms up before the first inning in West Palm Beach. Yainer Diaz is catching him today. https://t.co/tqgmzwfN7r
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) March 1, 2024
Is that a good thing? Either way, it seems like a return to form for Framber Valdez is the biggest “what if” for the 2024 Houston Astros.
Be sure to watch the video above as ESPN Houston's Paul Gallant & Joe George discuss.