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United States mens soccer team stands during the National Anthem before the start of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Championship soccer match against Mexico at the Rose Bowl. The U.S. and Mexico will play each other again tonight.
Mexico faces heavy lift to qualify for World Cup 2014: With just three matches left in their campaign to qualify for the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil next summer, Mexico’s national team faces a steep climb after winning only one of its first six qualifying matches.
Tonight they take on the U.S. national team in Columbus, Ohio, and they know that they must turn things around if they want to be on a jet to Brazil in 9 months. “El Tri” (as Mexico’s national team is known south of the border) has history on its side, with almost twice as many losses as wins in the 80 year track record of run-ins, though in recent years, the U.S. has been gaining ground. Regardless of history, though, this clash has become one of the must-watch events on world soccer’s calendar, especially when a lot is on the line.
The Mexicans will be buoyed by the fact that Team USA has three starters out on suspension, and they lost their key central midfielder, Michael Bradley, to an ankle injury in warm ups during the team’s trip to Costa Rica last week. But despite the weakened side, the fact is, the United States has never lost in nine games at Columbus Crew Stadium is undefeated in six straight home qualifiers against Mexico, last losing in 1972. Can you say “fortress America”?
The game is televised live on ESPN at 5:00 p.m. PST.
Doug McIntyre, covers the U.S. national soccer team for ESPN the Magazine