It isn’t often that World Cup qualifying in our region can kick up such a U.S. interest when it does not involve the United States.
Then again, it isn’t often that Mexico is this awful.
So here it is, El Tri’s last stand. The chances for getting this wayward, mess of a World Cup qualifying campaign together are pretty much up. They get things right over the next few days against New Zealand, or mighty Mexico – well, you know, “mighty” in our region – misses the quadrennial world soccer mega-party for the first time since 1990.
Heck, as World Cup qualifying opened, some pundits were suggesting Mexico could be a dark horse favorite to accomplish something truly special next summer in Brazil. Now, they are running out of chances to even get there.
We’ll have more about it at ProSoccerTalk over the next week and a half. It starts Wednesday when the teams meet at Azteca.
Mexico finished fourth among six teams in final round World Cup qualifying in our region. (The United States finished first, claiming an automatic berth along with Costa Rica and Honduras.)
What former Club America manager Miguel Herrera told FIFA.com: “The first thing we said was that we shouldn’t think about what happened in the past because that’s something we can’t resolve. … We are going to win in Mexico and we will also seek to win over there [in New Zealand].”
Ordinarily, a home game against a team like New Zealand (No. 79 in FIFA’s latest world rankings) would hardly be worth a Tri-Colored sweat. But Mexico won just once in five final round World Cup qualifiers inside Azteca, so the All Whites can like their chances of a draw or a close loss before heading back home for the second leg.
Herrera certainly made a statement by choosing an All-Mexico-based roster for the do-or-die set; that means no Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, an unthinkable exclusion just a few months ago.
New Zealand is missing a big start, too, although for completely different reasons. West Ham defender Winston Reid, the All Whites’ captain, was recently ruled out with a serious ankle injury.
The second leg is Nov. 20 in Wellington, New Zealand.