If CONCACAF’s Fourth Round of World Cup qualifying had ended on Monday, Mexico would have gone into a two-legged playoff against New Zealand in order to secure their place in the competition proper.
After two matches in the six-team mini-tournament known as “The Hex,” Mexico are in the fourth spot—just one point off the bottom—and have yet to put a stroke in the win column.
That said, no one’s pushing the panic button just yet. There are plenty of matches remaining before the campaign comes to an end on October 15, and while Mexico have perhaps started more slowly than expected, they have time to turn things around.
Not that they’re taking anything for granted ahead of Tuesday’s showdown with the United States in Mexico City.
There is little separating Mexico from their remaining CONCACAF rivals. The Hex is famous for being a grind, but this installment seems even more testing than usual. El Tri can ill afford to lose further ground, and a loss against the Americans would leave them four points adrift of their arch rivals.
For once it seems Mexico are under more pressure than the United States ahead of a big match, and the following slides reveal five reasons why. A draw at the Azteca would be a fine result for Team USA, but El Tri have rarely required a win so badly.