Friday, August 17, 2007

Luis Bueno: Beg to differ.

I was checking CNN/SI today and came across Luis Bueno’s article on Pachuca. Luis covers Mexican soccer for Sports Illustrated and does a very good job at it. I like that he calls out the Mexican players and Hugo whenever they produces excuses instead of results. IMHO, Luis is one of the better soccer writers on the net.

I disagree with him in his latest article, the end of the article that is.

Luis claims that with the breakdown of the USA vs. Mexico at Azteca Stadium;

“…Mexico supporters are left with essentially the same type of match. After all, Mexico replaced an opponent with no chance of winning in the Azteca with another opponent that has no chance of winning in the Azteca.” - CNN/

While I agree that Panama will be an easy match for Mexico, even if they field a group of younger players as reported; I do not agree that the USMNT would be “an opponent with no chance of winning in the Azteca.” A few years ago, maybe, but not any more. Azteca Stadium is the single greatest case of home field advantage that exists in World Football. If I am not wrong, I can count on one hand the number of time Mexico has lost an international match within the not so friendly confines of Azteca. That said, with the proper preparation, I give the current USMNT a 50/50 shot anytime they ever go there now.

My reasoning is because of how we did in 2005 and how we have done against Mexico over the last few years. With the exception of the shotty 10 minutes in which Mexico dropped a deuce on the USA, the World Cup Qualifier in Azteca was a very competitive match. The USA even scored there for the first time in how long? I honestly think that the mystique of the stadium is beginning to wear off. Hell, didn’t Paraguay beat them in Azteca?

Another reason is because outside of Mexico, the USA owns El Tri. We haven’t lost to them since March of 1999 in matches held outside of Mexico City. We’ve played them twice this year, both times we have beaten them 2-0 n Phoenix (in front of a totally pro-Mexico crowd) and 2-1 in the Gold Cup Finals. The Mexican National team doesn’t know how to beat the USA anymore, unless they play in Azteca. Why do you think the match was going to be played there? It was their last gasp for hope that they would be able to defeat the USMNT.

I agree that the Mexico team that plays anyone in Azteca is a different beast than the one that plays anywhere else. I also agree that when the USA has played there, we haven’t done that well. I see a different trend coming up with the USA vs. Mexico rivalry that is closely getting as heated as Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. The USA is getting a swagger that the Mexicans are scared of and their only hope is to bring the USA into Azteca to see if they still got it.

I have been on the fence as to if the third act of USA vs. Mexico should have been played this year. Now, after reading this, I wish that we still had the match and that we stuffed the all too familiar score line right down the collective throats of the entire group of Mexico supporters, including Luis. 2-0.

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