After disappointing losses on Friday for both the United States and Mexico, the two sworn enemies come face to face Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio in a FIFA World Cup Qualifying game where both teams will want to win for very different reasons.
Here’s what has changed since last week:
1. U.S. Knocked Down A Peg– There were never going to be any easy points to grab in Costa Rica for the US on Friday. But the way the US lost was a little shocking. They came out flat. Costa Rica grabbed control early, and they never looked back. But given the fact they have never won a World Cup qualifying match in Costa Rica, this was the perfect match to lack motivation – it was a even tough ask to get a point. The Ticos and their fans took the USA’s 1-0 victory in March in the Colorado snow personally. They harangued the team throughout their trip to Central America. Great teams fight through, and the US isn’t there yet. The 12-match winning streak dashed, it’s now time to regroup.
2. Michael Bradley Out – Another factor in the US loss to Costa Rica was the injury to Michael Bradley. The efforts by Jermaine Jones and Geoff Cameron to fill Bradley’s shoes were futile. In contrast, think about the U.S being able to top the Hexagonal without Landon Donovan. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann got the midfield wrong against Costa Rica. No doubt about it, he needs to figure out a way to make the midfield work more effectively Tuesday night.
3. No More Chepo – Mexico fired Chepo de la Torre last week. Gone are the halcyon days of the Olympic triumph in London and generally upbeat feelings about the direction of their national team. The dumpster has been alight for awhile. El Tri has yet to win at the Estadio Azteca in this qualifying round, and losing to Honduras from a winning position was the last straw. We’ll have to wait and see how much of an impact new national team coach Luis Fernando Tena will have on his team.
4. Hello Luis Fernando Tena– The man who led that Olympic team to glory last year now takes over a nation that was the best in CONCACAF two years ago after a bombastic 4-2 comeback victory over the U.S. in the Gold Cup. Times are much different now. They are currently in fourth place in the Hexagonal, a position that may dictate a November play-off match against OFC qualifiers New Zealand. Tena’s charge is simple: Get Mexico to Brazil, preferably by claiming one of those top three automatic berths.