March 26, 2013
U.S. has daunting task in Mexico City
With the altitude, heat, the city’s infamous smog and the 100,000 plus fans in the stands Estadio Azteca is one of the most daunting places in the world for any visiting team to play. The United States knows that full well, given the team’s history of futility in Mexico City.
But, the U.S. had a glimmer of hope going into Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifier against Mexico (10:30 pm ET/ESPN & Univision). The U.S. actually earned a stunning 1-0 win the last time the two teams met, with an 80th minute goal by Michael Orozco Fiscal proving the difference. The U.S. had entered the encounter never having walked out of a game in Mexico with a win as El Tri owned a 23-0-1 record, dating back to a 7-2 thrashing in 1937. That, plus the Mexicans have struggled mightily in their two previous qualifiers.
After two successive disappointing draws, El Tri is desperate for a win and three points. What El Tie has going for them is history and desperation.
In their 64 years of World Cup qualifying, the Mexicans are 63-1-5 at home. They have experienced back-to-back draws only once -- to the U.S. (0-0) and Costa Rica (3-3) -- in 1997. They started this qualifying campaign with a rather listless scoreless home draw with Jamaica on Feb. 6 and managed to squander a two-goal advantage in the second half en route to a 2-2 draw at Honduras on Friday.
The Americans (1-1, three), on the other hand, are sitting in better position after that 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a snowstorm on Friday. A tie or loss would have been devastating for them, but with those three points under their belt, they are in a much better position going into Tuesday’s game.
Surely the U.S. is thinking back to that game last August 15, knowing they can set aside history and earn win.
The U.S. went into this pair of qualifiers already wracked by injuries, and added another one to the list in Friday’s game. Midfielder Jermaine Jones has been ruled out of Tuesday’s game after suffering a sprained left ankle in the first half Friday. The injury required two stitches at halftime, and he continued to play until being subbed out in the 83rd minute.
Perhaps as a talisman, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann added the hero of the team’s last game at Azteca, Orozco Fiscal to the training camp roster in Mexico City. The center back drove from Puebla late Monday afternoon but did not arrive in time for the team’s training session.