USA vs Mexico, One of Soccer’s Biggest Rivalries – NBC10 Philadelphia

Ahead of Thursday’s latest chapter in the contentious soccer rivalry between USA and Mexico, we take a look back at the origins of the derby and why a game in Mexico’s fabled Estadio Azteca is such a big deal for both teams. 

A Contentious History

Games between Mexico and the USA date back to World Cup qualifying in 1934, when the first international soccer match was played between the two countries. Since then, the matchup has been filled with games and incidents that have defined it as one of the fiercest rivalries in international soccer. 

Ex-USMNT striker and American soccer legend Landon Donovan was the face of the game for a long time, partly because of his decision to urinate in some bushes near the Estadio Jalisco before a game in 2004. The Mexican press blasted him, and Donovan felt the fury of the Mexican fans during the game. 

While Donovan retired from the national team in 2014, the heat from the incident can still be felt when Mexico hosts the USA. The game is not just a soccer match, but a microcosm for the tensions between the neighboring countries. 

Estadio Azteca Dominance 

The U.S. has had a historically hard time getting results when traveling to Mexico’s national stadium. They have only won one friendly at the stadium and have never won a major qualifying match there. 

“Our record here is horrendous, you know? The odds are against us getting something out of this game,” USA head coach Greg Berhalter said. 

One of the main reasons teams struggle at the Azteca is down to science — the altitude causes players to tire more quickly, and visiting teams are often unused to playing in the conditions. 

“I think it has an effect on everyone unless you’re playing there and training there consistently,” said American Tyler Adams. 

While the U.S. are looking to step into new territory with a win, Berhalter’s squad will have more confidence to accomplish the feat than ever before, considering they have won their last three games against Mexico.

The Stakes This Time

For this visit, there’s certainly something to play for. While the U.S. holds a decent position in CONCACAF standings, the Americans can’t let their foot off the gas and risk missing a second World Cup in a row. 

The two teams hold the exact same record in qualifying play: six wins, three draws and two losses.

The decision Berhalter has to make is whether to start his best team against Mexico and fight for a cushion leading into the next two games against Panama and Costa Rica, or concede the harder game against Mexico and save his stars for the weaker opposition.






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