The countdown is on

USA/Mexico clash

Today is a huge sports day, but that’s not why I woke up smiling.

It’s also my son’s seventh birthday. Happy birthday, Ethan.

Anyway, let me go on record by saying that I’m looking forward to the Duke/Carolina game tonight. In fact, I may even check out Kim Hasty’s blog from the game tonight.

As a neutral (read: Clemson fan) I’m sort of hoping for a tie. But I may be one of the few folks in North Carolina who rank tonight’s Duke/Carolina game as the second-most exciting event on the sports landscape tonight.

Tonight, live from Columbus, Ohio, the United States takes on Mexico in the first game of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

And they don’t like us much.

Considering that we’ve caught and passed them in terms of regional supremacy and we’re 8-0-2 against them on U.S. soil in our last 10 meetings, it’s not hard to figure out.

But the rivalry is unmistakable.

It’s funny. Fans of the Mexican national team really, really hate Landon Donovan. This becomes a bit of a head-scratcher when you consider that he speaks fluent Spanish, but becomes a little more clear when you consider that he once urinated on the field at Estadio Jalisco.

You can look that one up yourselves, if you like.

Watch the game. It’s a 7 p.m. kick, which means it’s a good lead-in to the best rivalry in college basketball.

If you’re tuning in, here are a few things to watch:

Will Jose Francisco Torres get on the field against Mexico? 

He’s 21 years old with a Mexican father and American mother and he plays his club soccer with Mexican power Pachuca. Back in October, he declared himself a member of the U.S. National team. He was, of course, eligible for either team.

He’s played well in a couple of qualfiers, and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get pick up a cap (national team appearance) tonight.

Can Mexico field a starting 11?

“El Tri” is missing a host of names from the team sheet for this matchup. Andres Guardado and Jonny Magallon – who scored both Mexican goals in their “friendly” last year are both injured while Carlos Vela, Fernando Arce and Gerardo Torrado will miss out due to suspension.

Let’s put it this way. If Torres were in the Mexican camp, he’d be starting.

Can Sven Goran Eriksson lose and survive?

Eriksson is a world-renowned coach, but his 4-4-1 record in charge of the Mexican national team – including a four-game winless run – isn’t cutting it.

Don’t be shocked if the Swede is handed his walking papers after tonight’s 2-0 loss.

The rise of Jozy?

Teenaged striker Jozy Altidore, now plying his trade on loan in the Spanish second division, will probably get a start up front tonight. He scored against “El Tri” in Houston last year, and a goal tonight will help cement his spot in the national side for the next decade or so.

That’s it. The rest will unfold tonight at Crew Stadium.

Come on, you Yanks! 

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4 Responses to “The countdown is on”

  1. Mr.T Says:

    I Dont think this is the Rise of Altidore…he just doesnt cut it. Adu, the one in Benfica (is he still there?) if he plays (not sure if he was call) this could be the game for him. But in this game, experience is what the coach will go for. Donovan will be the one in charge of the attack and there he’ll find his bff Rafa Marquez and Carlos Salcido waiting for him..lol

    I have alot of respect for the U.S, they are very intellegent in the field, they never stop running or fighting. But I hate that they play like a small team, always waiting on the back. Play real/spectacular soccer pleaseeeeee.
    Mexico, hopefully they’ve learn not to be overconfident and think they’ll win just base on history. Ihope they got the message and give their opponents the respect they deserve. And if they play with heart, and fight for every ball as it was the last then this will definitely go their way.
    Eventhough the Mexico hasn’t wont in U.S soil in the last 10 years, the U.S has never won in mexico in the last ummm well lets say its alot more than 10.

    “If Torres were in the Mexican camp, he’d be starting.”
    Torres was never taken into consideration by the Mexican National team, that is why he decided to go with his second choice. He said it himself, he wanted to play the Olympic games with mexico but he was hearbroken that he wasn’t considered. He waited for Mexico, but the call never came. So he went with his second option, the U.S.
    By the way..his mom is Mexican-American…wont get into it…not related to this wonderful sport.

  2. Randy Capps Says:

    Mr. T, thanks for a host of excellent comments.

    1. Adu is on loan from Benfica to Monaco, where he is struggling to get playing time. As a result, he’s not on the roster for tonight’s game. You’re right about experience, which is why we will trot out Brian Ching. Again.

    I love Rafa, though. One of my favorite players in the world.

    2. You are dead-on about our style. Bob Bradley insists on playing a 4-2-3-1 where we try to win matches 1-0 all the time. I’d love to see us cut loose tonight in a 4-2-2-2 or, dare I dream, a 4-3-3, but we won’t. We’re still playing formations that don’t allow our good players to shine.

    3. We don’t win in Mexico, mainly because everyone fears Estadio Azteca. You guys are monsters there. It really might be the best home field advantage in the world.

    4. I think that, if Hugo Sanchez would have taken Torres, then Mexico might have qualified for the Olympics – thus saving his job. I read about his family history in a bio, so if it’s wrong, I’m sorry.

    I feel the need to point out that, the rest of the year, I am a huge Mexico supporter. (I even own a shirt.) I was gutted in 2002 when Maxi Rodriguez hit that goal for Argentina in the dying moments against Mexico in the round of 16.

    What do you think of Sven? I always thought it was an odd marriage.

    Again, thanks for writing. I love talking soccer.

  3. MR.T Says:

    Sven…what can i say. I think he’s a great coach, with alot of experience, but having said that I dont think he was the best choice for Mexico. I bealive Hugo should’ve continue. And when he was fired, i prayed that the FMF would allow Chucho to stay in charge..i mean 4 or 5 games won…with alot of goals (maybe not juego bonito..but wining is better than playing good and losing).
    But It didn’t happen. So now that Sven is here, i hope they let him work..hopefully not just for this cup..but for the next. Mexico needs continuity. The directivos need to stop their trigger happy ways.
    I love mexico..but sometimes i hope that they dont qualify for 2010 or atleast that they take a lost agains the U.S at the Azteca. Why? Because maybe then the FMF will stop and really work on building a good team, thinking bout whats best for the seleccion..bring players base on their work not on who their rep is (why is Ochoa in the delantera???? he’s Jared at 36 but without the header..but has a well connected rep).

    About Rafa marquez..i think he’s a great Barcelona player…but he’s no good with the Seleccion. Sometimes i feel that he doesnt want to be with mexico. I think it would be best if they got rid of the Pavel/Oswaldo/Rafa.(Guillermo and the Mitchel from Chivas are way better keepers than oswaldo.)..and bring in new blood start working on building chemistry..building a team that plays like one.

    BTW this time the U.S did play better..they attacked more. They are getting better..sad to say the opposite is happening with mexico. A good win for the U.S.

  4. Randy Capps Says:

    I was wondering the same thing about Ochoa. I rate him as Mexico’s best keeper.

    I had forgotten how well the interim coach did while in charge. I guess the FMF wanted to make a splash.

    Thanks again for the comments, and good luck against Costa Rica at Azteca.

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