The U.S. Men's National Team will be in a war on Wednesday during the World Cup Qualifier against Mexico. The kickoff is set for 3 p.m. CT at Estadio Azteca. The U.S. team is currently in second place facing a desperate team from Mexico that currently sits in the 4th position going into this final round qualifier for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
So what’s the issue with the U.S. team winning in Mexico? In my opinion there are 4 reasons why:
1- Confidence: The U.S. just hasn’t figured out yet that they can win in Mexico.
2- Team Mexico itself: They are a team, that on its own home soil has the attitude that they would almost rather die than loose.
3- Altitude & Smog: When combined, well enough said!
4- A crazed completely loyal out of control, over 100,000 fans: Fans that will be the most vile, crazed, loud, mean, one sided group of people any team has ever faced! Packed in the stadium like sardines with two million more still trying to get in. At the stadium however is not the only place that the U.S. team will be harassed? Expect it all! Expect anything! Mexico fans have been known to bang drums and set off sirens all night long prior to a match outside their opponent’s hotel.
The U.S. has never won in Mexico, and has only earned one draw, (0-0) in 1997, during World Cup qualifying at Estadio Azteca. However on U.S. soil the team has dominated for over a decade at home with a 9-0-2 record until Mexico finally beat the U.S. with their victory in the Gold Cup final in July. The U.S. team with a lifetime record of 0-22-1 in Mexico looks to return the favor and get their first victory in Mexico!
Overall I think that the Mexico team is better than the U.S. team. They play with a style that is close to a style played in Europe, which would help them go far in the quest for the World Cup, but where the U.S. has a distinct advantage is that they are close nit as a team. They have a deeper desire and commitment to win, and they have a Goal Keeper in Tim Howard that has never been beaten by Mexico.
So that’s the answer, I believe that if the U.S. Team has an X-Factor, it’s Tim Howard. Howard is unbeaten in five matches against Mexico and has posted an impressive five shutouts in seven all-time World Cup qualifying appearances. Howard also earned the Golden Glove award in South Africa as the tournament’s best goalkeeper! And like the U.S. Team just not knowing they can win in Mexico, The Mexico national team just doesn’t know if it can beat Tim Howard!
It really comes down to this as far as getting past this qualifier and into the World Cup. Mexico believes that if they beat the US they are in. Loose and they are likely out. The Mexico team is considered as big in Mexico as the NY Yankee’s are in the United States. The players, all of them are considered Celebrities. The problem is they are individual Celebrities and not so much a team, and that as well as the belief in the back of their head that they can’t beat Tim Howard may be the one chink in the armor that the U.S. team needs to finally get a win at Estadio Azteca.
My prediction, U.S. will win 3-1 over Mexico