Mexico vs. New Zealand Playoff: World Cup Spot Is Far More Crucial for El Tri

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 14: Fans of Mexico cheer during their match against Ivory Coast at MetLife Stadium on August 14, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

It is absolutely incomprehensible to think that Mexico could miss the World Cup. On paper, they are arguably CONCACAF's most talented team, they have a huge following even in the United States and they have absolutely gigantic sponsors. 

And yet, they find themselves in a two-game playoff with New Zealand to reach next summer's World Cup. It's a matchup they absolutely should win—they are far more talented than their opponent—but it's also a matchup with far more pressure on the shoulders of El Tri. 

Per Darren Rovell of ESPN, there's approximately $600 million at stake for El Tri. Check out his report here.

There's more than just money on the line, of course. There are always a decent number of young prospects that have dual-citizenship between the United States and Mexico. What happens if El Tri fails to reach the World Cup while the United States plays well in Brazil?

An entire generation of prospects on the fence about which country to play for are swayed to join the Stars and Stripes, that's what. 

And how much would this stall a soccer program that has been so strong in the youth ranks? How much would this affect a country that has long been considered CONCACAF's strongest team? Would it help to spark a new era of CONCACAF dominance for the United States, a country that seems on the rise in the footy world even without Mexico's recent struggles?

Mexico's fall from grace is incomprehensible. The team has had four coaches in the past three months. The team has long feuded with one of its best players, forward Carlos Vela, while its best player, Javier Hernandez, hasn't scored in his last four appearances with the team and won't even feature in the playoff round's first leg due to travel concerns.

And, amazingly, they've even struggled at their legendary fortress, Azteca Stadium. 

All of this angst could go away with a convincing win at home against New Zealand on Wednesday afternoon. All of the hexagonal phase's worries and concerns could be erased if El Tri crushes New Zealand. All of the sponsors can breath a sigh of relief if Mexico simply does the thing they were expected to do all along.



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