A nice diversion from all of the hurricane coverage tomorrow will be the "El Classico de Norteamérica". This is one of the best rivalries going and it never disappoints.
The game is a qualifying match for next summer's World Cup in Germany. However, both of these teams are dominating our region and are certain to qualify. Here are the standings (top three qualify; fourth place plays a playoff against an Asian team to qualify):
Back in March, Mexico beat the US 2-1 down in Mexico City. However, over the last nine matches between the two sides, the US has won six and tied once. And in the last six matches played in the US against Mexico, the US has not lost (5-0-1). In fact, Mexico didn't score in any of those six matches. Plus, most importantly of all, the US beat Mexico 2-0 in the last World Cup to advance to the quarterfinals.
This frustrates the hell out of Mexico because, until the mid-90's, they dominated our region and often tried to compare themselves to Brazil and Argentina. However, since the US National Team program has improved, they now can't even claim leadership of our region (even if they won't admit it).
Here's a bit of the smack talk coming out of the Mexico team:
Coach Ricardo Lavolpe - "In the Olympic qualifier we put four goals past them and in the last friendly in the United States they beat us on a header in the 93rd minute. That is not a way to demonstrate superiority."
Forward Jared Borgetti - “They want to beat us, they want to demonstrate that they keep getting better, that each time it’s more difficult to beat them. They have talked about being able to play us man for man. I’d like to see that. It would be great if, in their house, they attacked us, that they not bunker and counterattack in order to achieve a tie.”
Forward Francisco Fonseca - "Obviously they are going to say that, but on the field we will tell them the opposite. They have grown and this cannot be denied. The World Cup (Korea-Japan 2002) comes to mind. But we command CONCACAF" he affirmed.
Forward Jared Borgetti - “‘I have not seen the United States and I really don’t know how they are playing. I think Mexico is playing very well and that is what gives me much calm.’ “
Goalie Oswaldo Sanchez (responding to a question about Alexi Lalas' claim the US is better) - "Alexi who? I’ve never heard of him."
Here's a great video showing some other the rougher and glorious moments in the rivalry's history. The guy who put it together even got the kick to Lalas' groin in there. The whole video is a must-see. It's 45mb so it's best to right-click and "save as".
To all of you lucky suckers going to Columbus for the match, I'm immensely jealous. Enjoy the bratburgers, beer and goals.