The U.S. and Mexico, we don’t get along so well sometimes. Sure, we share affinities for each others’ food and sometimes music, but then we have to go and do stuff like SB1070 or try to play soccer and that just doesn’t go well.
In my opinion, every US/Mexico match is appointment television, especially those taking place south of the border. The atmosphere is amazing and the tension and animosity are very real.
The cyclical nature of the rivalry is an interesting aspect, as different generations of player development are constantly in flux giving one team or the other an advantage for a couple years. Especially after last week’s Olympic gold for Mexico (a tournament the US failed to qualify for), it is no longer a secret that we are in a period of transition for the USA and a swelling of talent and confidence for Mexico.
This international match date makes almost no sense due to its timing in the middle of the MLS season and the start of European seasons. Mexico is riding high and Estadio Azteca, a house of horrors where the US has never won, will surely be even more riotous than usual. (UPDATE: Azteca appears far from full, when they disagree, still sounds like the Mexican fans are in great voice. We’ll see about projectiles once the US has a corner.) With a USA squad that is largely inexperienced and missing some main cogs, it could be a recipe for a lopsided result. The USA needs to come away with something positive from this game even if it isn’t a win; the experience of playing a rivalry match in Azteca should be valuable to the younger players.
With a little under an hour to kick off in the least of friendlies, here are three good pieces to get you prepared. Two of them (from two of the best writers in the business) deal with the current gap between the two teams and what it means for the USA. The third is a solid preview from my favorite US soccer blog, The Shin Guardian.
— Jeff Carslile for ESPN.com, Can the U.S. close gap with Mexico?:
There is no more sobering experience for a team than to be left in its archrival’s wake. The entire concept of bragging rights almost ceases to exist. Where there was once confidence, there is nagging self-doubt. Yet that is the situation facing the U.S. men’s national soccer team at present as it relates to longtime adversary Mexico.”
— Grant Wahl for SI.com, The rise of Mexican soccer is a positive for the United States:
MEXICO CITY — I’m going to say something that may bother you: The rise of Mexican soccer is only a good thing for the United States. That’s not to say it’s easy right now if you’re a fan of the U.S. men’s soccer team. In fact, it’s probably painful, a sharp and enduring ache that feels like a punch to the gut.”