The U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Mexico, CONCACAF’s biggest rivalry, may be heading back to Phoenix.
UPDATE: ODFCnews.com has confirmed that the match is happening in April. The match will happen midweek and not on a FIFA international match date, so both teams will likely bring in players from their respective domestic leagues.
@ESPN_SoloFutbol, an account that isn’t directly linked with ESPN despite its handle, tweeted the breaking news Monday afternoon:
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“In the coming days, it will be officially announced Mexico vs. United States on April 2 in Phoenix.”
This will be the second time the bitter rivals in Phoenix. On Feb. 7, 2007, the U.S. beat Mexico, 2-0, in a friendly at University of Phoenix Stadium in front of 62,462 raucous fans, many of who were supporting Mexico.
A University of Phoenix official told ODFCnews.com Monday that they are working on “soccer-related” events but that there is nothing to confirm at the moment.
This will be the first time the U.S. will visit Phoenix since a 1-0 friendly win over Venezuela in front of 22,403 at University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 21, 2012.
Mexico last played in Phoenix on Jan. 30, 2013 in a 1-1 draw with Denmark in an international friendly that drew more than 43,345.
Both national teams are preparing for this summer’s 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Because the match will not be played on a FIFA international match date, it will be one of the last chances for fringe national team players to make a push for a spot on both squads’ World Cup roster.
The U.S. team, though, will still likely feature several of its key players in Landon Donovan, Clint Demspey, Graham Zusi, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Eddie Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley (who plays for Liga MX club Puebla) and Michael Bradley (who recently signed with MLS club Toronto FC). That’s potentially eight World Cup starters. Nine, if Phoenix native Brad Evans continues to convince U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann that he’s a viable option at right back against international competition.
For Mexico, the April friendly likely won’t include players plying their trade in Europe — Andres Guardado (Valencia), Giovanni Dos Santos (Villareal), Javier Aquino (Villareal), Hector Moreno (Espanyol), Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Manchester United), Diego Reyes (FC Porto) and Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio). (Mexico has yet to convince Real Sociedad forward Carlos Vela to commit to playing international soccer.) But much of Mexico’s “A” team is still made up of Liga MX players.
The U.S. and Mexico will also be able to face a quality opponent in a World Cup-like atmosphere. Both federations will fill their coffers because any U.S.-Mexico match, friendly or not, is an easy sell. The match will likely again sell more than 60,000 tickets. The University of Phoenix Stadium, which is the likely venue, seats 63,400.
For the U.S. team, the match will feel like an away game despite being on home soil. While there is a large and growing contingent of U.S. soccer fans in Phoenix and the Southwest, support for the Mexican national team has history and more than twice the amount in the area.
The match will also continue the growing intrigue of the U.S. vs. Mexico soccer rivlary, which is no longer more about socio-economic issues. It is now a bona fide soccer rivalry. The U.S. team has improved enough to gain the better hand over the Mexican national team, which is the heart and soul of Mexico sport. Dating back to 2000, the U.S. has beaten Mexico 12 in the last 21 meetings; the teams drew four times in that span. Mexico has only won twice in that span on U.S. soil.
The U.S. has not lost since Mexico’s 4-2 comeback win/drubbing of the U.S. in the 2011 Gold Cup Final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The Americans beat Mexico, 1-0, in a friendly on Aug. 15, 2012 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the U.S.’ first win on Mexico soil. The U.S. then earned a scoreless draw in a match that “mattered,” a World Cup Qualifying match last March at Estadio Azteca, which was once the Mexican team’s stronghold.
Then of course, there was the U.S.’ 2-0 World Cup Qualifying win in Columbus, Ohio last September. It was a win and a scoreline that has become a boon to U.S. soccer and its fans. It added the to “Dos a Cero” lore. The U.S. has beaten Mexico with that exact same 2-0 score in seven of its last nine wins in the rivalry, including the victory at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2007.