Mexico Diary: 'El Tri's Playing for 120 million'

By Mike Woitalla

It was 48 degrees on Tuesday morning in Mexico City, but it should be in the 60s for the USA's World Cup qualifier at Azteca Stadium that kicks off at 8:30 pm local time. For the Mexicans, they'll be playing at temperatures 40 degrees lower than what they faced during their 2-2 tie at Honduras on Friday. For the Americans, it's a pleasant warming from when the USA beat Costa Rica, 1-0, in the snow in Colorado.

On Monday, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann dismissed any notions that Mexico was a team in trouble after opening Hexagonal play with two ties, the first coming against Jamaica (0-0) in February.

“They played two very, very difficult games,” Klinsmann said. “Jamaica was here for 10-11 days games preparing. Mexico had to fly many of their players in from overseas two and a half days before the day.

“There are very difficult challenges in Concacaf for players and teams. Their game in Honduras was similar to ours [a 2-1 loss]. Mexico played a very good game in Honduras. They went up, 2-0, then had a lapse on a corner kick. We were up, 1-0, and got scored on with an amazing bicycle kick. Then they had the circumstances we also experienced: players cramping up in the heat.”

So no snow, no heat in Mexico City tonight. The altitude, 7,500 feet above sea level, is no longer a big advantage for El Tri, most of whose players don’t play for clubs at high altitude.

The pressure, however, is much more on the Mexicans, winless in 2013. Tonight’s game marks El Tri’s 70th World Cup qualifier at home, where it has a 68-1-5 record, its only loss coming in 2001 against Costa Rica.

As the Americans did before their Costa Rica game, the Mexican players deny there’s strife in the locker room.

“Our rivalry is with the USA, not between us,” says Guillermo Ochoa, the goalkeeper Coach Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre controversially chose over Jesus Corona after the Jamaica tie. Ochoa was also named captain for tonight's game.

Manchester United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and his teammates endured jeers during and after their tie with the Reggae Boyz.

“We are facing a great team and we want the three points,” he said. “We are grateful for the fans who always support us.”

Giovani dos Santos, who plays for Mallorca in Spain, also alluded to Mexican fans' tendency to turn on their own team when the going gets rough:

“We need the fans’ support for the entire 90 minutes,” he said.

A loss for the USA in the third of 10 Hexagonal games -- with four more home games to come -- hardly dims its qualifying chances. Failure for Mexico, del la Torre seems to say, will hurt much more.

“In Mexico, we are 120 million people, more or less,” Chepo said. “Priistas, Panistas, Perredistas [supporters of the main three political parties: PRI, PAN and PRD], and everything. Catholics, Christians, boys, men, and the elderly. ... But the majority loves soccer, therefore our burden is great, because they want to identify with and celebrate with the national team.”

15 comments about "Mexico Diary: 'El Tri's Playing for 120 million'".
  1. Luis Arreola, March 26, 2013 at 1:44 p.m.

    High Altitude is no longer an excuse for USA fans. I guess that game in Denver didnt serve the #1 purpose most fans thought it was about. If both teams have the same disadvantage why worry about it for a game. I doubt the USSF Coaching staff were unaware of the same disadvantage with High Altitude for both teams. And I doubt they scheduled that Denver game for that purpose. Let the new excuses begin!!!

  2. Chris Sapien , March 26, 2013 at 3:29 p.m.

    "most fans thought it was about" amaze me with your conclusions....your myopia has no end brother.......head wound still giving you those problems no doubt....

  3. Luis Arreola, March 26, 2013 at 4 p.m.

    So now why did we choose Denver again as main reason at this time of year?

  4. Carrie Hall, March 26, 2013 at 4:55 p.m.

    Have you ever heard of altitude sickness? It doesn't matter if you think the other team has an advantage but you might want to do your best to limit the negative effects of the elevation for your team. And why do you say "we" when it is very obvious you are not a fan of the US team and have very little regard for the team and the staff.

  5. Chris Sapien , March 26, 2013 at 5:02 p.m.

    Luis, Why don't you call the soccer gods and ask them if it matters to you that much? Or better yet aspire to govern the USSF yourself? Give it a rest.

  6. Luis Arreola, March 26, 2013 at 5:20 p.m.

    So why risk getting altitude sickness in Denver, again?? I am a fan. I am a fan that likes to hold the performance of his tream accountable. I want my national team to play a skillful technical style it is very capable of with it's huge pool of players. I am not a NAIVE Fan.

  7. Carrie Hall, March 26, 2013 at 5:27 p.m.

    Most of the players arrived in Denver on Sunday which allowed them time to acclimate to the elevation. This time would not been available for the Mexico game. Being at Denver prior to Mexico City assists in the acclimation to Mexico City, hopefully limiting the fatigue, headaches and nausea associated with traveling to higher elevations. Obviously your are "naive" when it comes to traveling to a higher elevation from a lower elevation.

  8. Luis Arreola, March 26, 2013 at 5:39 p.m.

    But the Mexico players are not used to playing in High Altitudes as well. So this means USA has now the advantage of acclimitation of altitude over Mexico because Mexico just played in Honduras, correct?? Man, so that means all of those Mexican Players will be sick come game time. It's really wierd that no one in the Mexican Media is highlighting this obviously huge advantage that USA now has over Mexico!! You are right I am really naive!!

  9. soccer talk, March 26, 2013 at 5:39 p.m.

    Here we go again w/ Luis ranting (whining)for a rise in the true USA fan bloggers. OK, I guess his dementia set in; it was Senior luis (aka fence riding traitor that begin the roll of excuses for why the USA won on lucky goal. He never had an answer for that! Your "Naive" logic makes no sense, better yet nonsense. They did train in Denver to prepare, was it the only reason; No! was it to scheme for an easy win? The US had no advantage in those conditions. The game was playable so it was played. CR protest - denied! It is a home game anyway. Ideally the home team wins just as both teams to advantage in their home. (even though Colorado is hardly a settled home for OUR USMT) When picking Denver we could care less what the Mex. squad has done to prepare for the high altitude; that's ludicrous logic! Maybe they should go train in Texas where the altitude similates the Azteca according to your coaching. Bottom line; you are not a Fan & that is what ticks everyone that will yet blast your whiny comments today. Why not comment on the many games that OUR team has played in good conditions w/ great or not to par tactical, technical expertise that you so desire. Until then stay here and root for the US or Mexico, but don't claim to be a fan and degrade our team w/ your BS, if U can't see fir to do that then hit the border eso!

  10. Carrie Hall, March 26, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.

    Your are driving me crazy... You can only get an advantage if you train at high altitudes for an extended period of time. You can limit the negative affects of elevation by gradually increasing your elevation and by staying at elevation for more days. Mexico players may experience the affects of elevation or they may not. Everyone is different and some do not feel the affects of traveling at elevation. However, it is obvious that the USSF was trying to limit the affects on its own players. Maybe Mexico is more concerned about the money they will earn from filling their seats.

  11. Luis Arreola, March 26, 2013 at 6:26 p.m.

    Soccer, so now I have to leave USA because I don't like how the usmnt has been playing or don't celebrate the win in Denver? Yea we are the greatest country in the world!! I said it was a lucky win that CR had an equal chance at winning. So playing in Denver was to prepare for altitude but not only reason. Got it. Because in last post that seemed to be popular reason. No team had advantage in Denver. I agreed many times. But still I can't help but had how we got those 3 points. The game sucked and served no purpose in flow of game or improving our passing game or much of anything skill wise. My point is it would serve this team a greater purpose to play its home games on less rweather risky venues to prepare its team skill wise for Brazil!!! Not for framing high altitude cold weather whatever advantage. It would also limit garbage on TV and create a better fan base perhaps. Just saying!!

  12. Luis Arreola, March 26, 2013 at 6:31 p.m.

    Carrie, agreed. Probably so. There is a higher chance of Mexico players getting sick so that gives USA an advantage in that department. They did not limit the negative effects of high altitude. That is a disadvantage, correct? Still nothing in Mexican Media about such important observation you made. They must be in on the money as well.

  13. soccer talk, March 26, 2013 at 6:44 p.m.

    Now you sound a bit more loyal! I don't recall celebration... We are just proud to get an just result. Could have been played elsewhere, true, but honestly this one ugly weathered game isn't going to mean that much in the March to the WC, but it does give the needed (deserved) points to hopefully continue to play even more games in far better weather. U seem to come to your senses that CR was not a victom of the the US undermining the game for an win (cuddos for that). Honestly; it was not a beautiful played game by no means, and the weather sucked, but it was extremely entertaining from the normal sometimes mundane we view many time, and most people agree to that. I don't want it to be common place but it was WILD and entertaining, just not asthetic.
    Everyone will have their opinions tomorrow, it will be an extremely hard task to draw much less win a meaningful game over the border, but I promise i will not blame it on smog, altitude, or home cooking. Thats why its a Home game, and unfortunately the Mexicans own their opponent in their place.
    GO USA!!!!

  14. carlos m, March 27, 2013 at 1:32 a.m.

    I think luis is the anonymous source for sporting news lmao.....

  15. Chris Sapien , March 27, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.

    Ball moved fine, player's safety was not compromised and the referee's authority was not challenged! Read the "Laws of the Game", no reference to inclimate weather, referees are instructed to consider player safety only. Those of us who made up the 20k in attendance wouldn't change a thing!!

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