Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

After the USA’s “Winter Wonderland” victory over Costa Rica in Denver on Friday, the team migrates south to meet Mexico in the Azteca on Tuesday.  Although “win at home, draw away” is the CONCACAF WCQ mantra, things change in the Azteca, where the mantra becomes “put in a decent performance and do your best to deal with whatever Mexico throws at you” (literally, and figuratively).

With Landon Donovan taking a break from soccer, USA fans may be asking, “but without Landon, who will expel urine onto the grass field in Mexico?”. Don’t fret – chances are, Mexican fans will be happy to help the USA out with that one via a few plastic bags or red cups.

Most USA fans are well aware of the pressure that the USMNT faced coming into this pair of qualifiers.  Brian Straus’ highly publicized interviews with several current USMNT players painted a picture of a national team in serious trouble, with players questioning Jurgen Klinnsman’s methods and their teammates’ loyalty and dedication to the USA.  Fans and media alike were anxious to see how the team performed on Friday.  What we saw was a team willing to battle through a blizzard to squeak out a positive (if somewhat lucky) result, relieving much of the pressure that had built up in subsequent weeks.  For the USA, a win in the Azteca would be fantastic, a draw would be impressive, and a loss in which the USA plays cohesively and with the “never say die” spirit we attribute to the team would probably feel pretty good too.

Things aren’t so rosy on the other side, however.  I’ve been fortunate enough to convince Sergio Tristan, a founder of the USA-based Mexican national team supporters’ group Villas Army, to describe the enormous significance Tuesday’s match has for Mexico.  Sergio gives some great insights into the pressure Mexico is under from its rabid fan base and highly critical media, and how that pressure might be starting to undo the team at its seams.

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Pressure, Pressure, and More Pressure: A Look at Tuesday’s Mexico v USA Match from a Mexican Fan Perspective.

Note: Sergio Tristan is a founder of Villas Army, a Mexican supporters’ group for fans living in the USA.  While his choice of national teams is questionable, he knows his stuff and is a great source for keeping up with all things Mexican soccer.  Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter (@SergioGoal).

Mexico returns home after a drawing 2-2 against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Friday, where the field temperature at kickoff was between 110 and 115 degrees. For any team in CONCACAF a draw in Honduras is a good result, but for Mexico this draw feels more like a loss. El Tri had three points in hand and lost it all in three minutes. The debacle in Honduras has made Tuesday’s game much more important for Mexico. Here’s a look at some of the main factors for Mexico heading into the U.S. match at El Estadio Azteca:

Fan and Media Pressure

The average American sports fan does not follow soccer. The U.S. win on Friday was not on the front page of any major U.S. newspaper, even with the insane weather conditions in Denver. If the U.S. fails to reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it is possible that this news will barely make it onto SportsCenter. In contrast, in Mexico the entire country eats, sleeps, and breathes their national team. The Mexican fan base is one of the most dedicated fan bases in the world, with fans often traveling with one way tickets just to see their team play. With that level of fan dedication, however, comes great expectations. Mexican fans are very demanding. The fans are not the only ones to put pressure on the Mexican national team – the Mexican press do their part, too. Their coverage is extensive and sometimes extremely critical, and serious conflict between the Mexican Federation and the press is very common.

The highly-critical nature of the Mexican media creates tension between players and the press. Mexico captain Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez (middle) expressing that tension after Mexico drew Jamaica 0-0 at home in February.

Mexico enters the match against the U.S. under huge amounts of pressure from fans and the media. El Tri has two points in their first two CONCACAF hex matches, the worst start ever for the Mexican team. As a result, the Mexican media have been very critical of head coach José Manuel de la Torre, aka El Chepo, and the team. The pressure seems to have gotten the best of El Chepo, who has acted very erratically with the media and has forbidden his players from making any comments after the game against Honduras.

Starting Lineup Concerns

There are two major roster questions for El Chepo following the game against Honduras. Team captian Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez will miss Tuesday’s match due to yellow card accumulation, and El Chepo must decide who will replace him at center back. Left back Jorge Torres Nilo will also miss Tuesday’s game due to injury.

At center back, El Chepo will likely start either Roberto Ayala or Johnny Magallon, as both are natural replacements for Rodriguez. Ayala provides the size and strength needed to hold off strong players like Jozy Altidore, while Magallon has a lot of experience in big international games.

The real question mark for Mexico rests in the left back position. Torres Nilo’s injury leaves El Chepo scratching his head on who use to fill the gap. Unfortunately, El Chepo seems to only have midfielders available to take over the left back position. Andres Guardado and Carlos Salciedo are the leading candidates to replace Torres Nilo. Guardado has been playing at left back with his club side Valencia (and performed well against Real Madrid), while Salciedo is naturally a left back who converted to center midfield three years ago. Neither player is a first choice left back, but neither player would be a disaster in the position. But the real question is whose departure from the midfield produces the most negative effect on the team’s attack – and the answer is Guardado. The former Atlas winger has been a terror on the left wing against all opponents, never afraid to run at defenders and often taking quality long shots. Salciedo, on the other hand, can be easily replaced in the midfield by Hector Herrera or Gerardo Torrado, both solid options.

With first-choice LB Jorge Torres Nilo injured, Mexican head coach “El Chepo” must make a decision over which midfielder to use to replace him.

El Chepo’s decision at this position will show how “worried” he is about playing the U.S., and how much “pressure” he is truly feeling. If he chooses to maintain the central midfield tandem of Zavala and Salciedo, then Guardado will be forced into the left back position. Putting Guardado, Mexico’s most dangerous winger, at left back would show that El Chepo is very cautious about facing the U.S. However, if El Chepo moves Salciedo from the midfield down to left back, inserts Hererra into the middle, and maintains Guardado on the wing, then El Chepo isn’t afraid, and is willing to push forward and take the game to the Americans. Look for this left back decision in the starting lineups to get a glimpse into El Chepo’s mindset on Tuesday.

El Estadio Azteca

Every seat at the Estadio Azteca has been opened up for Tuesday, the tickets are sold out, and the Mexican fans are ready! The altitude, the smog, and 110,000 fans are definitely a pressure cooker for any team to play against. The Americans will surely walk onto the field and feel the pride of Mexico. However, if the game hits 30 minutes and Mexico has yet to score or is playing badly then El Estadio Azteca goes from the Mexican national team’s greatest friend to its biggest foe. For proof, one need only remember the last WCQ Mexico played in the Azteca, against Jamaica. The Mexican fans began booing their own national team halfway into the game. Cheers of “Olé! Olé!” were heard whenever a Jamaican player touched the ball, while whistles rained down on Mexican corner kicks. The entire stadium turned on Mexico. The pressure of Azteca is surely felt by every away team that visits Mexico City. Yet, the pressure is greater for the Mexican Team who must not only win but satisfy its rabid fan base with good soccer.

Mexico’s famed El Stadia Azteca can quickly turn from Mexico’s greatest friend to its greatest foe.

A loss for the U.S. in the Azteca is expected, even by many of their fans. A win for Mexico is demanded by their fans. I believe that Mexico is slowly cracking under the pressure of being constantly under the microscope and not having the same results the team had in the previous round of qualifying. For all the talk of dissension in the U.S. ranks, nothing brings a group together like shared adversity. The U.S. team shared adversity in Denver on Friday. They have bonded and are motivated. A draw is highly possible.

I predict a 1-1 tie that feels like a win for the U.S. and which results in fire alarms ringing all over Mexico.

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Thanks again to Sergio for sharing this piece with Know Thy Enemies.  My counterpart to Sergio’s take – “A USA Fan Perspective on USA v Mexico” – is up on the Villas Army website here.  Enjoy the game on Tuesday – and GO USA!

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Ah, Mexico.  My favorite team in CONCACAF – nay, the world!  There are about a million awesome things about Mexico.  Mexico never cheats.  Their goalkeepers never try to take out the USA’s strikers after being scored on.  Their defenders never headbutt our players.  And their fans are the classiest in the world, never resorting to tasteless chants or throwing objects and bodily fluids at USA players on the field.

And guess what else – it’s opposite day!

Rafa Studs Up

Rafa Marquez, the cleanest, most honest, most likable player in the entire world. But only on opposite day!

OK, opposite day is over.  Anyone who knows American soccer knows that Mexico is American soccer’s public enemy number one.  The history of the rivalry between the two teams is lengthy and complex.  But a few metaphors can help clear things up.  For example, if the USMNT was Rocky Balboa, Mexico would be the lovechild of Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago.  If the USMNT was Simba, Mexico would be Scar, except not America’s uncle.  You get the idea.  The USMNT is chaste, pure, and righteous.  The Mexican national team is vile, evil, and despicable.  It’s a simple, undeniable fact of life, yet somehow a difficult one for Mexican fans to comprehend.

Simple Math

Some things in life are simple to understand. For example: the sky is blue. One plus one equals two. Mexico’s soccer team cheats, plays dirty, and is overall just plain bad. And so on and so forth.

On August 15, the USMNT marches into Mexico for what is mistakenly labeled by USA-Mexico newcomers as a “friendly”.  No game against Mexico is “friendly”.  Especially a game in the Estadio Azteca, Mexico City’s iron fortress where the only thing thinner than the air (the stadium sits at an elevation of 7200 feet) is the USA’s win record (0 wins at the Azteca).  As is customary, I’m doing my part to disparage our opponent through this blog.

Here’s the breakdown:

Statistics Sez: According to FIFA, the USA holds a 15-12-32 record all-time against our southern neighbors.  Not too encouraging, admittedly.  But let’s dig a little deeper.  Can we really trust FIFA to be compiling accurate statistics?  The same organization that knew its senior officials were accepting bribes, but did nothing?  Of course not.  Luckily for USA fans, I’ve been doing some statistical research of my own.  And according to my count, the USA’s record against Mexico currently stands at 1 billion wins, 0 losses, and 0 draws.  Numbers don’t lie, folks.  Mexico is toast.

Sepp Blatter

I say the USA has beaten Mexico a bazillion times, and never lost. Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, says otherwise. Who you going to believe? (Hint: the correct answer is “not Sepp Blatter”.)

What I’m eating: My usual strategy on USA-Mexico gameday is to eat Americanized Mexican food (Taco Bell, Green Burrito, Chipotle, etc).  But I don’t really feel like eating pre-prepared food next Wednesday.  Eating fresh is all the rage these days, you know.  Since I’m feeling creative, I’ve whipped up a little recipe for next Wednesday’s match.  I call it “Pollo Contaminado“, and here’s how you make it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 dose of performance-enhancing drug
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Directions:

  1. Ingest the dose of performance-enhancing drug.
  2. Saute, grill, bake, broil, or steam the chicken breast.  Season with salt and pepper.  Eat the chicken.
  3. Go to a doctor to get a drug test.  Fail the drug test.  Blame the chicken.



What I’m drinking: A fresh-cooked batch of Pollo Contaminado deserves a delicious beverage to accompany it.  I call this recipe “the Azteca Assault”, and it’s the best way to capture the experience of taking in a USA-Mexico match in Mexico City without leaving the comfort of your home.  It’s part cocktail, part drinking game, and 100% guaranteed to leave you soaking wet and bruised!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of beer
  • 1 sleeve of red plastic cups
  • Jumbo pack of AA batteries
  • 1 friend



Directions:

  1. Hand one can of beer, the plastic cups, and the batteries to your friend.
  2. Ask your friend to stand several feet behind you.
  3. Open your beer and start watching the USA-Mexico game.
  4. At random intervals, have your friend fill a cup with either beer or their own urine and throw it at you.  Try to guess which one was in the cup by using your sense of smell.  No cheating and looking behind you!
  5. If you incorrectly guess the liquid you’ve just been doused in, have your friend throw batteries at you.  If you guess correctly, take a sip of your beer, and have your friend throw batteries at you anyways.
Landon Donovan

Put yourself in Landon Donovan’s shoes by indulging in an “Azteca Assault” while watching USA v Mexico. Hope you brought an umbrella!

What I’m singing: “Stay Classy, Mexico”, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”

Mexico, you’ll scream “puto”, and shower us in beer-a
But you’ll never wipe away what happened in Korea
Met in the Round of 16
We beat you dos a cero
Shocked the world and sent you home, now who here’s the culero?

 

What to say to the Mexican fan next to you if, God forbid, they score: “Only fair to let you score one.  After all, we did take California, New Mexico AND Texas from you during the Mexican-American war!”

Until next time – boo Mexico, and GO USA!

The USA will get its first taste of an away atmosphere for 2014 World Cup qualifying when they travel to Guatemala City on June 12.  Think you might have what it takes to play an away game in Central America?  This US Soccer video says otherwise.  Watch it, and if you tell me you didn’t pee yourself by the end, you’re either lying, or have better bladder control than me.

But never fear, USA fans.  What Guatemala provides in terms of intimidating stadiums is severely undermined by the fact that they’re actually pretty bad at soccer.  So bad that they’ve never qualified for the World Cup.  Fun fact: remember back in 2006, when Trinidad and Tobago became the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup?  Guatemala was the CONCACAF runner-up that year.  That’s right – Guatemala is worse than the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup.

Even more telling is the nickname of Guatemala’s most famous soccer player, Carlos Ruiz.  As a youngster, Ruiz earned the nickname “El Pescadito”, or “The Little Fish”.  That nickname is a fantastic metaphor for the country he represents in international competition: Guatemala, a true minnow.  Add in the fact that Carlos Ruiz is actually the starting catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, and I’m starting to think the USA should be able to easily handle La Furia Azul.

Carlos Ruiz

Guatemala is so bad at soccer that their most famous soccer player, Carlos Ruiz, actually plays baseball!

Here’s the breakdown:

Statistics sez: A FIFA head-to-head search shows that the USA holds a 12-5-4 record against Guatemala.  In the ten times the sides have met in World Cup qualifying, the USA has never lost, winning 6 and drawing 4.  Guatemala has failed to score against the USA in its last 5 qualifying matches, and I’m pretty sure Tim Howard won’t be looking to let that streak get broken.

Tim Howard laughing

The very thought of Guatemala scoring on the USA makes Tim Howard laugh. That’s right, this is what Timmy looks like while he’s laughing. “SCORE ON ME? YOU’RE FUCKING HILARIOUS, GUATEMALA!!!!”

What I’m eating: Guatemala’s most well-known food is fiambre, a smorgusburg salad of meats, cheeses, and vegetables, containing as many as 50 ingredients.  The dish is usually prepared on November 1, as a part of the celebrations of Day of the Dead.  I figure the most insulting American version of fiambre is a Fiesta Taco Salad from Taco Bell – also a smorgusburg salad, likely containing 50 chemical additives and ingredients.  But isn’t Taco Bell derived from Mexican, and not Guatemalan, food?  Even better.  Chowing down on fake Mexican food can serve as a not-so-subtle reminder to Guatemala that they’re pretty much Mexico Jr – Mexico’s Canada, if you will.

What I’m drinking: Guatemala’s most well-known local beer is Gallo, a lager which has been produced in the country since 1896.  That’s a pretty long time.  However, the great American lager, Budweiser, has been produced in the US of A for a full 20 years longer than that.  Look for me to be downing Buds while watching the USA score one goal for each year that Budweiser was making beer while Gallo wasn’t even a sparkle in Guatemala’s eye.

What I’m singing: “Yoni Flores”, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”.

A little background is in order here.  Here’s what you need to know: FIFA recently began investigating a Guatemalan match-fixing scandal.  Three players were implicated and suspended from the Guatemalan national team, including a player named Yoni Flores.  Finally, the word “yoni” is Sanskrit for “vagina”.

With that context, here’s the song I was inspired to write for Tuesday’s match:

Guatemala did their best Italian impression
Fixed some games, FIFA found out and handed out suspensions
Now Yoni Flores can’t play, he’s sad, and starts to cry
I’m just laughing at his name, cause “Yoni” means vagina!

 

What to say to the Guatemalan fan next to you if, God forbid, they score: “Did Vagina score that one?  Oh wait, he’s suspended.  Never mind.”

Until next time…go USA!

Just a quick note to know anyone who happens to mistakenly stumble across this site that I am indeed working on new content.  The USA U-23’s loss to El Salvador certainly sent me into hibernation for a while – that and the fact that neither the U23’s nor the senior USMNT team have played a match since that fateful day meant I wasn’t putting anything up here on the site.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my Know Thy Enemy: Scotland piece, and am just getting started on Brazil.  Look for each one to be posted about a week (maybe a little bit more) before each match.

In the meantime, here’s an inspirational photo of Mr. American Soccer himself, Landon Donovan, giving Mexican fans the ol’ Dos a Cero salute.  Just a little something to keep you going for the next few days.  I saw the photo on US Soccer Daily‘s website.  USSD is a great blog/Twitter follow, if you’re into that sort of thing.  This photo makes me so happy I could cry.

You tell ’em, Landon.

Until next time – Go USA!

KNOW THY ENEMY: LIL’ BABY MEXICO (U-23’s)

Ooo, how cute!  Lil’ Baby Mexico wants to play!  Uh-oh, nobody told them about the USA’s U-23 team.  Brek Shea, Bill Hamid, Teal Bunbury and the rest of the squad are grown-ass men.  Freddy Adu was doing Sierra Mist commercials with Pele when Mexico’s Miguel Angel Ponce was still in diapers (and still an American)  for Christ’s sake.  Taking candy from a baby is too easy.  This will be like, like…well, whatever is easier than doing that.

Mexico Baby Bib

Lil' Baby Mexico's adorable lil' away jerseys. In addition to wicking away perspiration, they'll soak up the inevitable tears and spit-up that will come as a result of being crushed by the USA U-23's.

Statistics sez: By my count, the USA is undefeated against the perpetually weaker Mexican national team.  We’ve crushed them by at least 6 goals in every single game, and hold an amazing 343-0-0 record over our inferior regional rivals.  The last time our U-23 team agreed to “play nice” with Lil’ Baby Mexico, we went up 17-0 at the half, let them score 1 goal after the break, then ended 15 minutes early because their players were just doing handstands and picking dandelions on the field anyways.  The USA U-23’s celebrated with scotch and cigars while Lil’ Baby Mexico enjoyed Gerber baby food and breast milk.  Anyone who disputes these statistics is lying.

What I’m eating: As much as I hate Mexico’s soccer teams, I cannot deny that their food is incredibly delicious and makes up a substantial portion of my weekly diet.  It pains me to do it, but I’ve resolved to fill my belly with Taco Bell every time the US plays Mexico, almost as if saying, “The US is so great we took your food and made it American – and now it’s better”.  Almost as if saying that, because actually saying that would be a lie.  Taco Bell is gross.  As far as this game goes, I won’t need a substantial meal, since I’ll be filling up on unlimited breadsticks at the Olive Garden earlier in the day, while watching the US senior team take on Italy.  So I’m going with a side of Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, because it will truly be a fiesta when our U23’s beat Mexico’s, and because it’s just the grossest looking thing I see on the Taco Bell menu.

What I’m drinking: If I were a Mexico fan, this match would be the perfect excuse to finally buy those little tiny Coronita bottles.  Watching the smaller version of Mexico’s national team would be perfectly complemented by drinking a smaller version of a Mexican beer!  But I’m a US fan, so that won’t work.  Much like the “what I’m eating” section, I like to drink whatever American rip-off of a country’s drink exists while watching the US play that country.  I’ll go with Chelada, that glorious mixture of Budweiser, tomato juice, and clam broth, to be consumed out of a sippy-cup in honor of our baby opposition.

What I’m singing: “Baby Mexico”, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”.

Lil’ Baby Mexico, came to play some soccer
Want to play pretend with us, they’re in for quite a shocker
Baby Mexico you’ll cry
When you get your lickin’
Should have traded in your baby food for tainted chicken

What to say to the Lil’ Baby Mexico fan next to you if, God forbid, they score: “Cute goal.  Bill Hamid just let that one go in to make [insert scorer’s name] feel better about peeing the hotel bed last night, though.”