Home Field Advantage
Perhaps no stadium in CONCACAF provides one team with such a huge home field advantage as the Azteca does for Mexico. Many factors play into this advantage. First off there are the fans. The stadium holds about 105,000 people. Most of them supporting, rather vociferously, their National Squad. The atmosphere created can be very intimidating by all accounts. And oh yes, the occasional urine filled bag can be tossed from the crowd towards the visiting players. Secondly, it is the altitude. The Azteca is about 7,400 feet above sea level thus making the air rather thin. Speaking of that air it raises the third factor which is the ever present smog. Listening to Eric Wynalda last evening on Fox Football Fone-In he made reference to that and even mentioned something to the fact that the smog and elevation can actually make one start to bleed out of one’s nose and eyes. Clearly these factors favor the Mexicans. US Coach Bob Bradley has stated that it would usually take about ten days to acclimatize to those conditions. So the coach has opted to fly the squad in only 24 hours prior to the match and let the boys combat the conditions relying on their fitness and strength. An interesting strategy by Coach Bradley we’ll see if that becomes a factor.
History is with El Tri
Looking at the history between the two CONCACAF rivals the advantage clearly falls on the Mexican side when playing at Azteca. The United States have amassed a rather dour record of 22 losses and 1 draw. This US squad though seems to be keenly aware of that history and their chance to actually make history should they come away with 3 points. US goalkeeper Tim Howard was quoted by the Associated Press when asked about the history and a possible US victory by saying, “That would be special. No question. We know the history. We're well aware of it, which makes the challenge that much more special. ... If the result went our way, that would be a great thing."
The last time the US faced Mexico was of course in the recently completed Gold Cup Final played at Giants Stadium. The Mexicans walked away with a 5-0 win. However the US fielded a somewhat lesser squad as the American A-Team had just competed in the Confederations Cup in South Africa. The Gold Cup result will have little effect on the Americans but it just may bolster the Mexicans.
The last time the two teams fielded their best teams together was in Columbus, Ohio in February. That was the opening match for the Hexagonal and the US ran out winners ¡DOS a CERO! I must say that the Mexicans looked negative and completely uncreative in that match so hopefully that form returns when they enter the Azteca.
So can I watch?
The match is scheduled to start at 3PM Central Standard Time. The television viewing in the United States will be broadcast on Telemundo and Mun2. Good luck trying to find those stations so I would suggest you may have to venture to a local football friendly establishment in order to actually see the game. I asked a friend of mine why this decision was made in regards to the TV rights. He indicated that the TV right belonged to the Mexican Federation so the decision was made and can be viewed in one of two ways. They are either:
- a) trying to highlight the nifty new neato keen mun2 english channel of Telemundo or
- b) sticking it to the American television media and the US Soccer fans.
You be the judge, I know what I think.
So anyways here is the roster that Coach Bradley has selected to face Mexico, good luck boys!
Here’s hoping the Yanks can pull it out and bring home all three points.