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Bruce Arena on the Azteca Showdown

  • Goal.com, Wednesday, August 12, 2009 1:15 PM
Current Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena coached the USA in Azteca Stadium three times: a 1-0 overtime loss in the 1999 Confederations Cup semifinal and 1-0 and 2-1 losses in World Cup qualifiers in 2001 and 2005. But he guided the USA to its greatest win over Mexico, the 2-0 victory in the round of 16 of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea.

"I wouldn't say that when you're five games into qualifying you're prepared to say who's better or who wasn't," Arena said. "The Concacaf qualifying doesn't matter. The U.S. strolled through 2006 qualifying quite easily. The way you judge ultimately is how you play in a World Cup."

As for Wednesday's game (4 pm ET, mun2, Telemundo), when Coach Bob Bradley hits Azteca for the first time, Arena said, "It's anybody's guess, certainly. The advantage going into the game has to be Mexico's because of the environmental conditions." The altitude, heat and smog -- not the fans so much -- are what make Mexico City a tough place to play. "In Concacaf usually Costa Rica is the most difficult place to play. ... Azteca is a storied building. It's always fun to be there and certainly against a team that everyone feels is the biggest rival. Those are great atmospheres for the fans, for the players, and the coaches alike."

"If they can get a point out of the game [in Mexico], that's great," Arena said. "A point out of the game at this point in qualifying would basically assure the U.S. of qualifying. A win would be fabulous. A loss throws everything right back into the mix."


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