Jurgen Klinsmann has openly been talking about it for a month now, but it’s finally official: the United States national team will take on Mexico in Estadio Azteca on August 15.
This. Is. Awesome.
The rivalry between the US and Mexico is one of the world’s best. It doesn’t get any better for soccer fans in North America. Heck, someone even made a documentary detailing all the different bits of cultural significance.
But the game is perhaps an even better opportunity for the US team. Jurgen Klinsmann can lead his squad — many who have never played in Mexico — into the massive, buzzing cauldron and let them get a feel for the place without any pressure. You’re never prepared for the intensity of Azteca, but getting a friendly under their belt will help the Americans when they (presumably) travel to Mexico during the Hexagonal round. (It’s the first friendly in Mexico since 1984.)
The US has nothing to lose. Everyone expects them to fail. And, frankly, they probably will. But it’s not like a victory will make Mexico any more confident. The utter destruction at the 2011 Gold Cup final took care of that, thank you very much.
At worst, the Americans lose badly and gain some vital experience for down the road. At best, they shock Mexico, get a result, and put a small dent in Azteca’s impenetrability. It’s a win-win for everyone in the US program.
If nothing else, Kingston — where the Stars and Stripes play on Sept. 7 in the team’s next World Cup qualifier — will seem like a walk in the park.