USMNT attempts to conquer Azteca

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Photo by ISIphotos.com 

It is the U.S. men's national team's house of horrors, one of the more daunting places to play around the world. And it looms Wednesday night. 

The U.S. men's national team has never won at the storied Estadio Azteca, and despite bringing a less-than-full-strength squad to Mexico City for Wednesday night's friendly against El Tri, the challenge remains the same: Finally put a "1" in the "W" part of the W-L-T column that current reads 0-8-1 all-time at Azteca, 0-19-1 all-time in Mexico City and 0-23-1 all-time on Mexican soil.

“We’re all aware of that. It’s something we get excited for," Maurice Edu told USSoccer.com. "It’s going to be a crazy environment. It’s one of the biggest games for us, and we use that as our own personal motivation. If we get a win here, it’s a big deal for us, and that’s what we’re all looking to do on Wednesday night.”

Edu, who could be given his first run out at centerback since an October, 2010, friendly against Poland, is one of the many Americans on the roster who has yet to experience playing at the 105,000-seat venue, where the home supporters are as ferocious as the opposition. In fact, the only players from the last meeting at Azteca, a World Cup qualifier in 2009, to be included on the current roster are Landon Donovan and Tim Howard.

“Any time that we play in Azteca, it’s pretty raucous, but I think that it will be a pretty exciting night," said Donovan, who has scored five goals in 14 career games against El Tri but none on Mexican soil. 

The overall unfamiliarity with the venue is just another factor that is necessary for the U.S. men to take into account, especially across the back line. Geoff Cameron has had a whirlwind month after his transfer saga to join Stoke City finally got completed, and he'll add this to his plate as one of the expected starters. 

“The feel and the pressure of the crowd on top of you. It’s loud and it’s hard to hear each other on the field and that’s one thing we’re going to have to deal with," Cameron said. "We’ve got a bunch of new guys, so there’s going to be a lot of communication that we’re going to have to deal with.”

The U.S. men have yet to face Mexico since left back Fabian Johnson, who is tasked with trying to shut down the likes of Pablo Barrera and Andres Guardado, was integrated into the national team, and all he has to use as a reference point are stories from teammates.

“In Germany there are just a few stadiums that are close to this big," Johnson said. "In Dortmund, there is a stadium that holds 80,000. I think Jurgen said this one holds about 110,000. That’s crazy. I’ve never played in front of a crowd like that. I’m happy to be here and not a lot of players get to play in front of this big of a crowd.”

If there is another voice of experience that can lend a hand on how to attempt to combat the sea of green in the crowd, it is U.S. assistant coach Martin Vasquez, who entered as a late substitute in the 0-0 World Cup qualifying draw at Azteca in November, 1997, the only game the U.S. men have not lost at the arena.

Another player who can speak from experience is DaMarcus Beasley, who is closing in on the hallowed 100-cap mark for his career. The 30-year-old Beasley played for the U.S. national team at Azteca in 2005, a 2-1 loss and one of just four games there that the U.S. managed to score a goal.

"The guys are ready, and they know what’s at stake," Beasley said. "They know it’s Mexico; they know it’s Azteca. That’s all the motivation they need to put on a good performance on Wednesday.”

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96 Responses to USMNT attempts to conquer Azteca

  1. Mark says:

    I would love to go down to Mexico to watch this match. But, I really don’t want to get bombarded with cups of urine, vomit and beer.

    Mexican soccer fans are classless. And, that holds true for games held in the USA. I was pelted with beer when the US scored in Pasadena.

  2. PaulTheOctopus says:

    We’re boned.

  3. elgringorico says:

    I would like to formally invite you to La Barra Brava at RFK stadium

  4. Frank says:

    Don’t judge a group of people based on a few bad apples. I have experienced all this and more at Raider Football Game. Crybaby.

  5. p says:

    I agree. I have been to many US games against a variety of different countries and they are by far the most vial, combative, violent, and despicable group of fans.

  6. TheFrenchOne says:

    honestly, i see this as a win-win situation for us. if we lose (even in a blow out), we did so with a B- team that was not expected to get a result. if we tie or (miracle of miracles, win), then it’ll be a significant result for us, give the newcomers a boost of confidence and rattle el tri’s cage.

  7. elgringorico says:

    I disagree. American fans could learn something from Mexicans and others. Jump, scream, support your team, be passionate. Don’t fight or be violent obviously, but go crazy. The team feeds off your energy.

  8. brad says:

    I was in the Meadowlands for the Gold Cup 5-0 loss to Mexico. I got the same treatment. I mean who sprays beer.. especially because its like $10 dollars a bottle.. talk about alcohol abuse..

  9. HoboMike says:

    We’ve only played 9 games at the Azteca?

    I’m not expecting too much, nor will I read too much into any result. Unless we win, at which point I will get very drunk.

  10. 2tone says:

    Realistically I just want to see the guys compete well. I could care less if it is a win or a loss, but if we somehow pull out a win; I will also get very drunk.

  11. Lio says:

    Have you heard of the American outlaws? That is exactly what real US supporters do!

  12. CILII_blog says:

    Since USA vs. Mexico is such a rivalry, why is there so many friendlies played?

  13. Yusef says:

    Went to the Gold Cup finals against Mexico in Chicago and Pasadena. Had beer poured on me after every goal but the Benny winner in Chicago and after the 4th Mexico goal in Pasadena.

    Greatest environment I was ever in for a match was the RFK world cup qualifier against Honduras in 2001 (or was it 2002?). Honduran fans amazingly supportive and very respectful.

  14. HoboMike says:

    Last time I checked, riot police weren’t shielding Chargers players from Raiders fans.

  15. SilverRey says:

    I can’t see that Klinsman has set us up to tie let alone win on this one. We have a bunch of National Team trailists who have one day together to work out everything, because I can guarantee they won’t be able to communicate on the field, and there is no centerback on the roster. In Azteca.

    But I don’t want to jinx anything so forget all that I just said.

  16. Yusef says:

    That Charlie Davies goal the last time around in Azteca was a thing of beauty. Oh what should have been!

  17. malkin says:

    $$$$$$$

  18. BBB says:

    You were bombarded with cups of vomit, urine “and more” at a Raider game?

  19. Taylor says:

    “a few bad apples” is quite incorrect. how about when the ENTIRE stadium was chanting “Osama Bin Laden is hiding here” just a few weeks after 9/11. that is incredibly classless and truly pathetic. it’s not as though just one section of fans throws things, like the minority of hooligans at European games, it happens all over the stadium and every time we go to take a corner kick. P.S., there’s four corners of the pitch which encompasses the whole field, therefore the whole stadium

  20. Kevin_Amold says:

    +1. The whole play, top to bottom, was a beaut….Bradley, to a curling Donovan, to a sprinting Davies that had found a real “hueco” in the defense. Two perfect touches later, then Charlie unleashes a curling beauty past Ochoa. Celebration travels to the corner flag, where Charlie channels his inner American Idol and Bradley taunts the crowd. Garbage begins to rain down. Truly one of the greatest moments I’ve witnessed.

    “Goooooooolazo! De Estados Unidos! LO HIZO CHARLIE DAVIES!!”

  21. fortunate only says:

    LOL that never happened

    It took place at Estadio Jalisco and it was a few dozen people who chanted that.

    The rest of the crowd booed them and security escorted them outside.

    Just in case you’re wondering, I was there.

  22. Kevin_Amold says:

    Guess this is as good a time as any to relive our last Azteca experience. This behind-the-scenes look is excellent and Jay DeMerit in an oxygen mask is a fearsome sight.

    link to youtube.com

  23. Siberian says:

    Agreed. I would be scared to travel to Mexico. From what I heard about the Gold Cup final, it was scary enough in Los Angeles.

  24. Kevin_Amold says:

    It was an intense experience in LA.

  25. THomas says:

    I never understood how playing at high altitude helps the Mexican team, it’s not like they all play in altitude all the time.

  26. THomas says:

    Cha-ching, Cha-ching

  27. elgringorico says:

    I miss Bob’s intensity ;[

  28. Charles says:

    Between CCL and this, Mexico versus US is among the greatest rivalries in sports right now.
    The US national team is going to need to step it up to keep it that way.

  29. NE Matt says:

    You heard it here first – The CB of the future for the USMNT, Will Packwood, got his first start for Birmingham City today in the center of defense for their Capital One Cup game vs Barnet.

  30. THomas says:

    To be fair…after watching the behind the scenes of our last game there in 2009, after they score they throw beer on themselves. They just get into it and lose it when they score.

  31. ManicMessiah says:

    They play a possession game, and inevitably do less running than the US players. At least that would be my best guess.

  32. Good Jeremy says:

    yeah, but he’ll have to fight for playing time with our other five CBs of the future.

  33. Good Jeremy says:

    I’ve lived in Southern California and Arizona for just about my entire life and once thought about making the trip down for a Mexico game. I decided not to for the same reason I don’t vacation in Afghanistan.

  34. xav234 says:

    why didn’t Clarence Goodson or Gooch get a call-up

  35. DeLarge says:

    A lot of the Mexican players play at altitude since most of the cities are at elevation. It’s a big help if half your team is acclimated.

  36. Jimmy JimJohn says:

    I was wondering – were you there?

  37. elgringorico says:

    C’mon people, don’t be scared little girls.

  38. Wm. says:

    Ha! Antics…

  39. euroman says:

    that wasn’t beer…

  40. bryan says:

    We only throw beer on each other. But that’s probably because the away team fans are far away. Also, who complains because they got beer on them!? Vomit, urine, bottles, etc. is too much though.

    I’m also a Raiders fan. lol

  41. Wm. says:

    Man, everyone is so frightened. I’ve been to three US v Mex games, two US v EL Sal games, as well as US v Guat games, US v Honduras games. Some yelling and throwing junk, but what am I gonna do…sit home and play with my Holly Hobby EZ Bake Oven or ride my Sit and Spin?

    YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN!

  42. Rabid RBNY says:

    On the upside we get our younger generation more aclimated to Azteca. We need to get younger players competing Internationally. **shrug**

  43. ted says:

    Speaking about class, what about those fans who were chanting “this is for Pearl Harbor” after the US womens team victory over Japan?

  44. Wm. says:

    The 1998 qualifier against Mex at the Azteca, the one T tick in the column was FRIGGIN EPIC. Jeff Agoof got red carded for being an aß and then we played with 10 men for the next 85 minutes or so. We tied that 0:0 and all of those dudes on the field for the US were heroes. Even Lalas that dope.

    link to youtube.com

  45. hogatroge says:

    Agree on the “win-win” angle.

    We must also remember that US teams (FCD & Seattle) have won in Mexico since the last time the Nats played there.

    Everyone knows it can be done now. Maybe this isn’t the group to bank on, but it’s certainly possible.

  46. bryan says:

    in case anyone, like myself, wanted to re live that:

    link to youtube.com

  47. Eurosnob says:

    Barra Brava at RFK should not be confused with El Tri fans. It was founded by Bolivians and supports DCU, a US team, and that includes their games against Mexican teams. I’ve never seen Barra Brava throw urine, vomit and beer at the visiting players or fans.

  48. Modibo says:

    I think you should count on being snug in your bed at a nice early time.

  49. Modibo says:

    Nice trip down memory lane.

    Say, what ever happened to Charlie Davies?

    Oh, yeah. *sigh*

  50. Spank says:

    I liked those kits. We shoudl bring em back.

  51. PD says:

    Maybe not 100% percent relevant, but just read this over on US Soccer:

    “What Mexico read well is that how the global game has evolved over the last couple years… that they need to have a style and have a player that buys into it 100 percent and works as hard as he can. Based on those elements and their preferred system, they automized sequences and where and how the players moved and they’ve doubled and tripled their position… (players). Certain players that are normally on the team aren’t there, but the players that are there play exactly the same roles. I think they have matched what was going on globally. If you want to be in the top 10 in the world, you have to adjust to this type of style.” JK

    I think that this is a quote to remember as we continue into qualifying. Until we’re meeting these criteria, any major result can be attributed as much to exceptional individuals and luck as to having a strong national program. This is why we’ll see a 3-3-4 for a long stretches of the game tomorrow, (even though we’re still currently better suited to 4-4-2) this is why Chandler is still in the mix, and this is why it’s good to see new faces, even in a lion’s den like Estadia Azteca. When you think about this quote as being JK’s mantra, a lot of his choices since taking over make perfect sense.

  52. RLW2020 says:

    agreed, the overall goal of this game is to acclimate some of these new guys to the Azteca. it may or may not be pretty but it will be invaluable for next year’s encounter.

    if they win, go crazy! if they lose klinnsy should be better prepared next time. Don’t forget this is his first trip there too!

  53. RLW2020 says:

    one of my top 10 Nats moments.. for sure.

  54. RLW2020 says:

    if they grew up there or play club ball there they do. Thats one of the huge advantages to the Mexican team; most of them play in the Liga MX and in cities near the DF. The familiarity to the stadium and themselves is something the US has never had, anywhere in the USA.

  55. fortunate only says:

    It’s always beer. Except for those demented idiots who don’t mind peeing into cups or bags and throwing them.

    Try going to a Santos Laguna game and look around you when the home team scores.

    Beer showers everywhere.

    I don’t agree with chucking your ten dollar beer in the air but hey, everyone does what they want.

  56. Peretz48 says:

    I’m looking for a 4-0 or 5-1 scoreline. If we can hold the score below this I’ll considerate it an accomplishment.

  57. Good Jeremy's overbearing wife says:

    summer vacation in Afghanistan is good for the kids discipline though dear

  58. Benny says:

    Pretty interesting note:
    In that 0-0 draw in 1997 WC qualifying match in Azteca, the U.S. was reduced to 10 men when Jeff Agoos was shown a red in the 32nd minute for elbowing Mexico’s Pavel Pardo. The USA also was without four regular starters in goalkeeper Kasey Keller (thumb) and midfielders Claudio Reyna (suspension), Tab Ramos (ACL) and Earnie Stewart (calf).

  59. D. Beas says:

    I was in Pasadena for the Gold Cup final, wearing full U.S. garb and a large American flag (I was the 1%). The Mexico fans were polite and I no problems inside or outside of the stadium. I do hate the goal kick chant. You should be able to take your kids to a game and not have to listen to that crap.

  60. Wm. says:

    No Kasey? I could swear he was in that game.

  61. GW says:

    I guess you don’t go to a lot of NFL games do you?

  62. Lil' Zeke says:

    That’s tired

  63. GW says:

    Broken thumb. Not sure but the backups in those days were either Juergen Sommer or Friedel. I’d bet on it being Friedel.

  64. Tom says:

    Mexico and Raider fans are classless!

  65. Eric says:

    I was also at the Gold Cup final in full USA apparel. I didn’t have any problems, either.

  66. ben in el cajon says:

    So was I. There were groups of friends wearing both colors sitting together, and a man next to us had both a Mexico shirt and a US flag and cheered every goal. When we left, gutted, two Mexico supporters gave us sympathy and I congratulated them.

  67. Wm. says:

    What’s tired? Hey, write me some new material if you don’t like it, Twink.

  68. Wm. says:

    Good call…it was Friedel. Here’s the FIFA match report for the game:

    link to fifa.com

  69. Eddie Vedder says:

    I like the move by Klinsi to play at Azteca… the loss will toughen up the lads prior to qualifying.

  70. Eddie Vedder says:

    Agoos hit the post in that game

  71. Eddie Vedder says:

    I;d go during qualifying.. That last game is high on my list of matches attended

  72. GW says:

    I don’t think we will lose.

    JK managed to inject some interest into what might otherwise have been a boring Olympic champions appreciation match ( remember our own World Cup thank you game in 2010? What a drag) into an interesting game.

    I’m hopeful it will be a wild shootout, like maybe 4-3 US on top.

  73. Eddie Vedder says:

    You’re high.. I’ll eat my shoes if the US can manage a tie.. Epic fail by Mexico if they don’t blow the lid off the thing..

  74. Dennis says:

    I have been to 3 USA Mexico games, as well as games against Colombia, Elsalvadore, Panama, Guatemala and Honduras. At the Mexico game in Pasedena, Sam’s Army was a fledgling group that was absolutely dwarfed by the Mexican contingent and it was pretty intimidating. At Chicago, and the Meadowlands, US fans were outnumbered. I was not in the Sam’ section for either of those games. After the Chicago game, I was hit in the head by something thrown from the balcony above, but since I was more or less surrounded by Mexican supporters, I have no clue who threw it. At the Meadowlands, we pretty much left to a stadium of celebrating Mexican fans. Compared to a Giants game, nothing special in terms of violence.

  75. Jamie Z. says:

    That’s very consider it of you.

  76. Yank fan says:

    Dude I couldn’t agree with you more concerning fans for Honduras. They are passionate but they don’t act like hooligans. I think they set a good example for all soccer supporters.

  77. NE Matt says:

    LOL

  78. JW says:

    It will be good to see who performs well in the back – Mexico will press high for 90m at high altitude; a good defensive performance here will merit additional callups during qualifying.

    I really want to see a 4-3-2-1 or 4-1-4-1 trotted out here to clog up the Mexican distribution to the wings from the center, with the DM assisting the wingbacks or slotting into CB when a natural CB goes to assist. Mexico is most vulnerable to, and we are good at, fast breaks; playing a little deeper will open up the requisite space while applying more pressure to the dangerous Mexican wings.

  79. elgringorico says:

    yeah i know, i just want people to ease up and have some fun

  80. biff says:

    High or not, he is right that there is a surprisingly strong buzz around this game and I think a lot of that is coming from a roster that is missing –count ‘em– six normal starters: Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Clarence Goodson. And seven if you count Timothy “Benedict Arnold” Chandler, who isn’t glued to his phone as he waits for a phone call from Jogi Low.

    The big question is—–Is this the first step of a big break from the past? Klinsmann, in his comments on the Sunday teleconference, was his normal vague self about some of the absences. But an article in a Scottish paper claims Bocanegra was “axed” for the game by Klinsmann, which I have a hard time believing.
    
    Rangers duo dumped by their national sides
    link to dailyrecord.co.uk

    And a story Tuesday on a Web site that I don’t think is allowed to be linked on SBI quotes Klinsmann saying he intentionally left some of the regular starters in Europe so he can assess other players, sort of contradicting his Sunday teleconference statements indicating the regular starters were not fit: Klinsmann was quoted as saying: “Tomorrow we get a lot of answers in terms of a lot players…and that’s why I told a lot of established players to stay behind in Europe, cause I wanted to see other players.”

  81. Good Jeremy says:

    Bob Bradley is that you?
    Didn’t one very poor game in Mexico despite generally overachieving by playing to the limits of your talent pool when compared to your opponents as you just described get you ran out of town?

  82. biff says:

    Is that you, Bob Bradley? Accusing JW of being you? Some people think you underachieved by not playing to the limits of your talent pool and that if you had started Maurice Edu instead of Ricardo Clarke in the Ghana match in WC 2010 we would have won and advanced to the quarter-finals, and that if you had not subbed in Jonathan Bornstein last summer iin the Gold Cup Final and also would have utilized Maurice Edu we would have gone on to win that game after going up 2-0 instead of losing 2-4 loss. Just saying.

  83. Judging Amy says:

    Thanks for this PD this is a great bit of info.

  84. Eddie Vedder says:

    Great Pep talk.. but there is still the altitude to deal with..

  85. Benny says:

    I do know that Dooley hit the post.Google youtube: USA vs Mexico 1997 WC qualifying and you can watch a short clip of the game.

  86. Marco says:

    I love how the Raiders fan was trashing Mexican fans… it made me laugh when I thought back to that huge dust-up in the parking lot of a PRESEASON NFL game last year, where Raiders fans and Niners fans were in huge brawls that the cops had to break up, you know, once the dozens of guys taping the fight on their phones used their phones to actually call the cops. But boy, those mexican fans are trashy for throwing stuff that isn’t a punch.

  87. Rory says:

    Is that you, Jurgen klinsmen accusing someone of being Bob Bradley accusing someone else of accusing someone of being Bob Bradley to take away from the fact that you… uh, wait, wait, I can do this. Accusing them to take away from the fact that you have a… yeah, Uhm.

    Actually, I think I am Bob Bradley. So I’m just gonna walk away now.

  88. JW says:

    Wha? I’m just dropping some Sun Tzu here. I’ve surveyed the lay (high altitude), the opponent (Mex), and my army (USA!)… this is a good strategy for that. The Klinsmann-preferred approach is better against different opponents… I would be quite upset if we deployed a 4-3-2-1 against JAM. Bob Bradley would have likely used a 4-2-2-2 here, btw, and there’s merit to that, but with Mex I would prefer to close down the wings instead of shielding the CBs.

  89. biff says:

    Eddie, chill bro’. haven’t you heard of Klinsmann’s innovative game plan. He is going to have our (Super) Heros strap bottled oxygen to their backs and wear face masks and we gonna kick some you know what. yeah, I’m fired up for this one, hoping for a miracle…but will understand if we fall a few goals short of a miracle.

  90. yank says:

    As mad/sad as I am that we don’t have our full squad, I’m getting more and more excited about the game regardless. I can’t help it, gonna be a slow day here at work!

    GO USA!!!

  91. steve-0 says:

    What’s funny is I can see us losing 4-0 but at the same time, I can also see us winning 1-0 with Wondo/Gordon stealing it at the very end as they’ve done this many times before.

  92. Rgodinez22 says:

    Altitude affects the player as much as it affects the ball: thinner air not only causes shortness of breath and faster fatigue but the ball goes higher or floats longer. (something the Mexican players would be more accustom to even if they don’t play in the Liga MX anymore because they were born there)

    Plus its not just the altitude and its effects but the 100,000+ fans and the hostile(I don’t mean aggressive) environment they hold the US player to.

  93. bryan says:

    whatever. Raiders fans are awesome.

  94. bryan says:

    honestly, if Boca is going to stay at Rangers, than “thanks for your time!” we don’t need to see Boca if he is staying in the 4th division of the scottish league. there is no point, he won’t play for the US again unless there are injuries or something. but, at the same time, maybe JK knew Boca was in talks with another club and left him behind to work it out.

    either way, i don’t know. i love Boca, but if he would rather be faithful to Rangers than continue playing at a high level, i thank him for his time with the US and move on. which is really hard to say. but frankly, i’ll be livid if he stays with Rangers.