Just five days ago, the Mexican National Team won an Olympic gold medal. Tonight, it plays an international friendly against the United States. How much does this game matter to the Mexicans? Probably not much. They can still admire their medals and look to the World Cup even if they lose.
To the Americans however, this game represents a statement.
To beat or at least tie the Mexicans in today's game would send a big message to the international stage. Losing to the Olympic gold medalists wouldn't exactly be the end of the world, but knowing you can hang with CONCACAF's best can be a great motivating factor.
With the third stage of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup set to finish in October, the Americans are tied for the lead in their group with Jamaica, both with four points. The Mexicans are two points ahead of Costa Rica in their group.
Mexico clearly has the confidence and talent to easily qualify for the World Cup. While the Americans are also a sure bet for the World Cup, a loss against Mexico could cause problems for them later.
If the Americans lose tonight, it will only increase the gap between the two nations.
That is why the Americans need to have a good result against the Mexicans tonight. Confidence is big in all sports, soccer being the world's most popular.
American goalkeeper Tim Howard had this to say about their and Mexico's success. Via ussoccer.com:
What's the result of tonight's game?
“It depends who you ask. I think ourselves and Mexico are always very close. Depending on six month or one year, either team can go ahead. Because both teams are so talented, it doesn’t take much to shift the balance.
That’s why we play these games and it’s important to not only win the head-to-head competition but also when it comes to qualifying to finish first because they’re going to want to finish first. Those things are important to say who the best is. When you have two great teams, everyone is going to have an opinion on who is better.”
Defender Geoff Cameron talked about what to expect out of and the importance of beating Mexico in the lead up to 2014.
“You can say more confident. If anything, they have the momentum coming off of a gold medal and some of the players are going to be here. Our last game was against Guatemala for the qualifier and we have a couple more ahead of us and we want to try and build some momentum.
Our goal is to come here, play well and get a win. We know what to expect, it’s going to be hard competition and they’ve got a lot of good players and they’ve been playing well recently. It’s a challenge for us, but I think it’s a challenge we can take advantage of.”
A win would be great for the Americans tonight, but the most important thing for the Americans is not to lose.