The United States and Mexico will play another edition in their intense soccer rivalry this Tuesday, March 26, 2013 (10:30 PM EDT) at the Estadio Azteca. The ‘tricolor’ and the USMNT are the two major powers in the CONCACAF region, therefore every match between these two is a real test and parameter to see who has the upper-hand. On Tuesday night, in a beautifully packed and loud Azteca stadium, the USMNT will attempt to do what it has never been able; defeat Mexico, in Mexico, in an official World Cup qualifying match.
Throughout the history of this rivalry, Mexico has been the superior team as they have won 33 games out of 61 possible. However, most of these wins were prior to the 1990s when the USA did not have an adequate soccer league or production of talent. Since the 1990s, they have faced each other a total of 34 times where the USMNT has won a total of 15 times with Mexico only obtaining 11 wins. Clearly, Mexico’s superiority was diminished, but this rivalry goes past the stats.
There have been several games that have enlarged the competition between these teams. Ironically, the first ever game between Mexico and the USA was symbolic to what would happen throughout their history. It was 1934, and these two nations would face each other in Italy for a single ticket into the World Cup. Mexico, like most Latin American countries of the time, were already soccer fanatics and had semi-professional leagues in their system; on the other hand was the United States who saw soccer as a foreign hobbie. Both teams had a month-long ship journey into Italy, and Mexico, knowing that soccer was foreign to the United States, arrived out-of-shape, unprepared, and over-confident to their game. However, this was not the case for the USMNT who conditioned and practiced adequately in their journey. In the first match between Mexico and the USA, the USMNT shocked their future rivals with a 4-2 victory that sent Mexico home in shame and the Unites States to the World Cup.
Arriving home in shame, Mexico understood to not underestimate their northern neighbors, and from 1934 until 1989, they won a total of 22 times out of 26 possible; during that time, Mexico did not see defeat until 1980. Once again, Mexico had its head up high as the emperor of CONCACAF. Once the 1990s began, a struggle for the region’s power began. In 1991, the USMNT defeated Mexico in the Gold Cup semifinals, in 1995 the US won in a prestigious Copa America quarterfinal, and in 2002 the US eliminated Mexico from the World Cup in the Round of 16. In other words, the USA was not only winning simple World Cup qualifying games, but it was also defeating the ‘tricolor’ in prestigious international competitions. These defeats put Mexico against the wall because it now understands that they have a direct rival in the zone that is fighting with everything it has to obtain the empirical powers of the CONCACAF.
The USA has won more games in the past 20 years of this rivalry, but Mexico is still the superior squad and major power in the region. In the past 20 years Mexico has won 2 U-17 World Cups, 1 Confederations Cup, 1 Olympic Gold Medal, and 6 Gold Cups; that is a total of 10 titles, 6 more than the northern rivals.
The USA has to catch-up, and they are doing it in huge strides. In 20 years they have become a real threat for Mexico, and this Tuesday could determine another historic game in this long history. If the United States obtains their first ‘Aztecazo’ in an official match, an 80 year old barrier will be destroyed.
A win in Mexico could be another turning point in this rivalry that allows the CONCACAF power battle to grow. If Mexico leaves with the 3 points, it will be clear who still dominates the rivalry. Will the United States make history on Tuesday night?
Mexico vs United States Television
The Mexico vs United States match will be televised this Tuesday, March 26, 2013 on Univision and ESPN at 10:30 PM Eastern.