Tim Howard slept through history class.
On Wednesday, Team USA will travel to Azteca Stadium to take on its bitter rival Mexico, who's hot off winning an Olympic gold medal. Over the past three decades, the U.S. hasn’t won a single match in Mexico City, but the American goalie knows that past Mexican victories won’t mean anything when the clubs go head-to-head at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
When it comes to USA vs. Mexico football, there’s a supposed “gap” between the teams in the Mexicans’ favor. This belief was created by the fact that Mexico won 21 matches from 1937 to 1980 without suffering a single loss. Any losing streak that long is nearly impossible to break, but since it finally ended in 1980, Team USA actually boasts 15 victories compared to the Mexicans’ 11.
That’s why Howard doesn’t believe in this supposed gap, as reported by Greg Lalas of MLSSoccer.com. He said:
I think when you have the two top dogs—when you have the two best swimmers in the world or the two best track athletes—I think ‘the Gap’ is based on opinion. Look, they’ve had a couple good results, but last World Cup qualifying, we finished first in the group. So we’ve still got that belt.
While Howard thinks the U.S. has “that belt”, Mexico has that medal. And even though the Americans have had more success in the past few decades than in previously, their inability to do damage in Azteca Stadium is a monkey they’d love to get off their backs.
And given that Howard doesn’t buy in to “gap” talk, he unsurprisingly is looking forward to the opportunity to prove everyone wrong. According to Steve Davis of ProSoccerTalk, he said going into the showdown:
The cool thing, whenever you get a chance to play at Azteca, is the chance to be the first [U.S.] team. That always resonates with everyone. That, if we do things right, and we win, we make history.
The last time the 33-year-old goaltender faced off against Mexico, he only allowed one goal. We’ll see if he can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk again on Wednesday night.
Howard definitely has the confidence to pull it off.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.