Tata Martino is coaching just his third match as Mexico manager and once again is relying on the Wolves forward up front, as he did with his debut match on the bench, a 3-1 win over Chile. On either side of Jimenez are two players who don't always play as wingers. Monterrey's Rodolfo Pizarro, who also started against Chile but generally plays more centrally, and Cruz Azul's Roberto Alvarado, a 20-year-old who has experience as an interior midfielder, get the nod. With several attackers not available for the Gold Cup, the chemistry between that front three may be critical to Mexico achieving its goal of reclaiming the Gold Cup.
Martino also is handing Leon right back Navarro his international debut at age 30, days after he played in the Liga MX final against Tigres. Next to him is a center-back pairing of Diego Reyes and Nestor Araujo with Monterrey left back Jesus Gallardo filling out the four-man back line.
In the midfield, Pizarro and Gallardo's teammate Carlos Rodriguez earns his second cap with America's Edson Alvarez sitting deeper and PSV midfielder Erick Gutierrez starting on the left. Rodriguez debuted against Chile as well, a surprise starter in Martino's debut, while Alvarez was the only player to start both March friendly matches.
Jonathan Orozco starts as the goalkeeper with likely Gold Cup starter Guillermo Ochoa on the bench.
For Venezuela, hometown forward Josef Martinez begins on the bench. The Atlanta United forward has not played often in Rafael Dudamel's one-forward system, and he's opted for Salomon Rondon up top. Several MLS players or alumni do get the start though, with D.C. United's Junior Moreno and former NYCFC midfielder Yangel Herrera in a lineup composed entirely of players who play outside Venezuela.
The game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is scheduled to kick off at 9 p.m. ET, with the final 23-man list for the Gold Cup due shortly after.
Mexico XI: Orozco; Navarro, Reyes, Araujo, Gallardo; C. Rodriguez, Alvarez, Gutierrez; Pizarro, Jimenez, Alvarado
Venezuela XI: Farinez; Hernandez, Osorio, Villanueva, Rosales; Rincon, Herrera, Moreno, Machis, Murillo; Rondon