The fiercest rivalry in CONCACAF will be renewed on Tuesday when the Unites States enters the famed Estadio Azteca and the intimidating steep ranked masses of over 100,000 impassioned Mexican fans.
But it is Mexico who come into the World Cup qualifier under greater pressure after collecting just two points from their opening two games in the Hexagonal. If things start to go against them against the U.S. then the huge throng of supporters could grow frustrated and cause even more tension for El Tri.
As Mexico toiled to a 0-0 draw at home to Jamaica last month, the fans' disappointment at their team’s performance was audible and coach Jose Manuel de la Torre has asked for unconditional support against the U.S.
“The Estadio Azteca weighs [down the opposition] because of the people,” he said, according to MLSSoccer.com.
Mexico’s record at the Azteca is a formidable one, having tasted just one defeat in World Cup qualifiers there in its nearly 50 year history. The U.S. have never won there in a World Cup qualifying, with the best they could manage being a 0-0 draw back in 1997.
However, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side have reason for some optimism having secured their first ever victory at the Mexico City fortress in friendly last August.
“I’ve never had such a big response like that win in Mexico City, it meant so much to so many people,” U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann told ESPN. “It’s a great rivalry and it’s getting bigger every day.”
“We have a lot of respect for Mexico, but we don’t have any fear,” he added. “El Tri knows it has to get the three points from this game, the same as us.”
The 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a blizzard on Friday means the U.S. comes into the match a point ahead of Mexico and for the time being has lifted some of the pressure that was building on Klinsmann. The former Germany international and coach will be without key midfielder Jermaine Jones for the trip to Mexico, however.
The Schalke man’s ankle injury means he joins the long list of players already ruled out, which includes Tim Howard, Timmy Chandler, Edgar Castillo, Jose Torres, Fabaian Johnson, Danny Williams, Steve Cherundolo and Jonathan Spector.
Mexico’s only selection issue is a suspension that rules out Francisco Rodriguez. De la Torre has revealed that he confirmed with FIFA that Jorge Torres Nilo is eligible, following reports that he would also be suspended following a booking picked up in the 2-2 draw with Honduras last Friday.
D: Meza, Moreno, Reyes, Torres Nilo
M: Zavala, Salcido
Aquino, Dos Santos, Guardado
D: Cameron, Goodson, Edu, Beasley
M: Bradley, Beckerman
Zusi, Dempsey, Gomez
Where to watch: The CONCACAF World Cup qualifier will kick-off at 10.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN and Univision, with a live stream available on Watch ESPN.