America and Mexico Clash in Soccer

The Mexicans are heavily favored in this World Cup qualifying match.

J.P.
Posted on 3/26/2013

The United States faces a goliath in Mexico this year, evoking the feelings we had when the U.S. played England in 2010, a game that ended in a draw.

It may be the greatest home-field advantage in sports history.

Seventy-five times Mexico's national soccer team has played a World Cup qualifier at home and only once has it lost — 12 years ago to Costa Rica. Six other times Mexico was held to a draw, giving it a winning percentage at home of 91%.

Juergen Klinsmann, who will lead the U.S. into a World Cup qualifier at the sprawling Estadio Azteca on the southern edge of Mexico City on Tuesday, said his team won't be intimidated. "Playing Mexico in a sold-out stadium in Mexico City, it's awesome," he said Monday. "[But] we're here to get not only a result, we want to win here."

Klinsmann, after all, is riding an impressive streak of his own. In six games as a player and coach, the former German star and national team manager has never lost to Mexico, the most recent victory coming last August when the U.S. beat Mexico for the first time in Mexico City in a friendly.

The U.S. may have still momentum on its side because although Mexico blew a 2-0 lead and had to settle for a tie in its qualifying match Friday in Honduras, the Americans were beating Costa Rica, 1-0, in the snow outside Denver.

However the U.S. will be without midfielder Jermaine Jones, who did not travel to Mexico after spraining his left ankle against Costa Rica. Mexico will be without defender Francisco Rodríguez because of yellow card accumulation, but it will have Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, who scored twice in the tie with Honduras.

Regardless of the lineups, though, the Mexico-U.S. game will draw a crowd of more than 105,000, adding another chapter to what former U.S. national team defender Alexi Lalas calls the "greatest international soccer rivalry in the world."

And it's a rivalry that has reached such heights, at least in Mexico, for reasons that have little to do with soccer.

 

The U.S. is coming off a controversial win over Costa Rica, who was upset the game was played in heavy snow.

 

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