In the team hotel right next to the University of Pennsylvania, Julian Nagelsmann is working on his Dortmund code. Of course, the new national coach wants to win again against Mexico and end the national team’s American tour with a perfect record after the good start 3-1 against the USA.

That would also be a quick personal triumph for the 36-year-old in his new position and the longed-for encouragement for the football nation, which is hoping again, eight months before the home European Championship.

But will Nagelsmann field his best team? The DFB head coach is facing the first diplomatic balancing act of his fresh term in office: How many BVB players will be there at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia at midnight German time on Wednesday (2 a.m. / ARD) and who would be before the approaching Bundesliga weekend maybe better from other clubs? This is independent of the private plane that Borussia is sending to America for a supposedly six-figure sum to speed up the return home of its four professionals plus US boy Giovanni Reyna.

Hummels is “in the mood”

Mats Hummels has an answer for Nagelsmann. He definitely wants to play. Firstly, because after a two-year break he is keen to play in international matches. And secondly, because he still has a really big score to settle with the Mexicans.

The BVB defender’s memories went back to 2018. Moscow. Luzhniki Stadium. 17th of June. At that time, the opponent at the start of the World Cup was also Mexico. “The Mexicans are a good team, my last encounter didn’t go well for me personally or for us as a team. We want to have a successful test again,” said the 34-year-old, announcing a little revenge for the 0-1 defeat back then.

Of course, Hummels knows that football history cannot be revised. The opening shock for the then reigning world champions was just the beginning of a painful decline for the DFB team with three tournament disappointments in a row. In addition to Hummels, only his long-term friend Thomas Müller (34) is in the current DFB squad from the starting eleven from back then. Julian Brandt was substituted on by then national coach Joachim Löw and hit the post late on.

For Nagelsmann, these are all stories of yesterday. For him, it’s about the Mexico of today and not the Mexico of 2018 – even if the winning goalscorer at the time, Hirving Lozano, can again quickly cause danger from the left side in Philadelphia.

More than 50,000 Mexicans expected

More than 50,000 Mexican fans are expected in the 2026 World Cup arena in the soccer-loving metropolis of Pennsylvania. “I wasn’t aware that it would be a cauldron. But then I’m really looking forward to it. I love the atmosphere. Home games are great, but away from home it has a special touch,” said Hummels.

Nagelsmann knows that Mexico, with and without fan help, is stronger than the quick but harmless US boys. “They’re a different team than the USA. They play a little quicker in depth, the movements are quicker. It’s a different structure and a different game. But that’s good when we play against two different opponents,” said the 36 year old. “We can still improve our pressing,” demanded Nagelsmann.

With Hummel’s personality, his puzzle has not yet been solved. From Nagelsmann’s point of view, taking Niclas Füllkrug out of the starting line-up wouldn’t actually be necessary. The Neu-Dortmunder reliably delivers goals. Müller would be the alternative in his 125th international match. Niklas Süle and Julian Brandt only played as substitutes against the USA, so they should be enough for an international match and the Bundesliga duel against Werder Bremen on Friday.

“I’m going to make a little change”

“I’m going to change a little bit because I want to see everyone in the game,” said the national coach with a view to the Mexico game. That didn’t sound like a radical rotation. The only outfield players who have not yet played a minute in the USA are Jonas Hofmann, Malick Thiaw, David Raum and the two newcomers Robert Andrich and Kevin Behrens.

For Nagelsmann, in the short run-up to the European Championships, it is also about implementing the much-vaunted mechanisms. The duo Ilkay Gündogan (FC Barcelona) and Pascal Groß (Brighton) were quickly hailed as the dream pair in the six position

“We also have the topic of a Bundesliga game on Friday, which we want to take into account if we can. I sat down with my coaching team and then we discussed the timetable,” said Nagelsmann, explaining his approach. Rudi Völler tried to calm the debate in a similarly pragmatic manner. “We will do what makes sense,” said the DFB sports director in Philadelphia.