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World Cup Playoffs: Mexico Gets Final Life Line (Or Chance to Embarrass Itself) Against New Zealand

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Here’s, perhaps, all you need to know about the current situation regarding the Mexican National Team. For its do-or-die World Cup playoff against New Zealand coach Miguel Herrera called in an entirely domestic-based squad. The leading scorer on this roster? Defender Rafa Marquez with 13. He’s the same player, who at 34, had been dropped entirely from the El Tri set up until last month.

It’s been that kind of year for Mexico, which is 8-3-12 across all competitions and now needs to try to sneak into the World Cup backdoor after once being hailed as a legitimate darkhorse in Brazil next June. Herrera is the fourth coach of the calendar year. Hey, wasn’t the U.S. supposed to be the team in turmoil?

El Tri goes to work Wednesday afternoon at the Azteca (3:30, ESPN) with 37-year-old Brazil-born Zinha on the roster, while Manchester United’s Chicharito is chilling in Northwest England. Herrera named his starting XI Tuesday night, which including 33-year-old Club America journeyman Moises Munoz in goal over Jose Corona and the rarely seen 5-3-2 formation.

FBL-WC2014-QUALIFIERS-MEX-NZL-TRAININGAs bad as its been for Mexico, the team should beat New Zealand. The All Whites proved — with three draws at the 2010 World Cup — they’re no slouches. Having said that, New Zealand is without its best player, West Ham defender Winston Reid. In 2013 the best win for New Zealand was a 1-0 result vs. Saudi Arabia. In October they managed a 0-0 draw with Trinidad & Tobago, which didn’t even reach the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.

Mexico’s record at the usually impenetrable Azteca is awful this year a 1-1-3 with only three goals scored. If this game is still 0-0 after 30 minutes or halftime, the home crowd will turn on El Tri as it has done before.

As an American soccer fan there are two conflicting scenarios about the Mexico game. Let’s look at them.

Scenario No. 1 – You want Mexico to win because it’s for the greater good of CONCACAF.

Scenario No. 2 – Mexico missing the World Cup would be the most hilarious thing EVER!!!

The latter scenario is relatively self-explanatory. Mexico is the U.S.’s biggest rival. To see El Tri miss out would be perfect payback for all the hostility from the 1990s and early 2000s. Couple in all the talk in 2012 after El Tri won an Olympic Gold Medal and was about to take the step toward elite world power and Mexico sitting at home next June would be a pure delight.

We allllllllllmost got this last month, only Graham Zusi had to screw it all up and score against Panama giving Mexico one final life line.

Let’s tackle the idea that Mexico in the World Cup is good for CONCACAF. As an American, why do I care about CONCACAF, frankly? The federation is known for its corruption, bureaucratic nonsense and refereeing ineptitude. Does Mexico qualifying for the World Cup and losing in the Round of 16 — as it has in the previous five tournaments including the birth of dos a cero in 2002 — really do much to enhance the reputation of the federation? It doesn’t do much for me.

We’ve all seen Mexico lose in the World Cup in spectacular fashion already, thank you Maxi Rodriguez. We haven’t seen El Tri miss the party entirely … unless you want to go back to 1990 when they were disqualified. Call me callous, but all the sponsorship money Mexico loses out on if it misses the World Cup — to quote an old co-worker — that’s not my problem.

Let’s stick with scenario No. 2. Mexico missing out of the World Cup would be amazing and hysterical, if very unlikely at this point. You can save the ‘great good of CONCACAF’ crap for former CONCACAF bigwig Chuck Blazer and his parrot.

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