USA Form: The Americans earned the win they needed against Costa Rica (protest dismissed). There’s little else to read from that, beyond a ball stumbling into Clint Dempsey’s path in front of an empty net during a blizzard. The win will diffuse some of the pressure, though the underlying questions about Jurgen Klinsmann’s tactical acumen remain.
Mexico Form: There was ample discussion about gap widening and Mexico’s golden generation last year. It has not materialized so far in qualifying. Mexico dropped points at home in a 0-0 draw with Jamaica in the first match. El Tri followed that performance by blowing a 2-0 lead in the second half in a 2-2 draw away at Honduras. Chepo’s seat may be melting, if the Mexicans don’t take three points against the U.S.
History: It does not portend well for the U.S. There’s Mexico’s 68-1-6 record in home World Cup qualifiers. There’s also the Americans’ 1-8-1 record at Azteca, with the one being a U.S. B-team fumbling into a friendly win. Klinsmann’s teams have shriveled on the road in CONCACAF qualifying, triumphing just once in four attempts. That one win was a 2-1 win over might Antigua and Barbuda with a goal in injury time.
Noteworthy: Jermaine Jones, the star of the snow game, will be out for the U.S. after suffering an ankle injury. Freddie Adu is off to Esporte Club Bahia in Brazil, his ninth club and sixth country since becoming a professional soccer play in 2004. Mexico’s coach wants Azteca fans to respect U.S. national anthem. Not likely.
Prediction: Morale may have improved. The back four hasn’t. We’re not ready to predict Klinsmann will thwart history away from home. 3-1 Mexico.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]