Honduras vs. Mexico: CONCACAF Draw Sets Up Mexico for Thrilling Game vs. USMNT

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIMarch 24, 2013

Mar 25, 2012; Carson, CA, USA; Mexico player Miguel Ponce (16) attempts to handle the ball defended by Honduras player Hilder Colon (4) during the first half of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying at the Home Depot Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

One was played in over 100 degree heat; the other was played in a blizzard.

One emerged with a tough but much-deserved victory; the other was left to rue a two-goal lead that they had let slip and watch the game finish in a 2-2 draw.

Yet despite their differences, both Mexico and the United States will look to Tuesday's CONCACAF match with the highest importance, for their chances at qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil could well depend on the outcome it.

Currently sitting behind Honduras in their group, both will know that three points gained (or not) will have a profound impact on their current group standings.

Especially after all that unfolded in qualifying this weekend.

Mexico had to make the difficult away trip to Honduras and slog away in the blistering heat, but were rewarded for their efforts early. Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez netted a brace, and El Tri appeared primed to walk away with a much-needed victory from it all.

However, that lead quickly disappeared under some fierce Honduras pressure (and perhaps a little bit of help from the referee), and the result finished 2-2.

Granted, it was a frustrating finish given their lead earlier in the match, but the reality is that the draw is still a good result away to Honduras. After all, their Tuesday night opponents—the United States—walked away with nothing from their trip to Honduras, so the point gained should be well received.

Yet as dramatic and controversial their 2-2 draw might have been, it would have nothing on the 1-0 victory that the USMNT would earn over Costa Rica. 

Played in almost surreal snowy conditions, the United States were able to hang on to their first-half goal and gain all three points on the night.

Costa Rica weren't happy with the result; the U.S. were thrilled.

And not just for the fact that they earned a win, but for the fact they moved ahead of Mexico in the qualification standings. The qualifying process still has a long way to go, but that fact—that the United States are a point ahead now—could well prove the difference in the end.

Especially with Tuesday's match next on the schedule.

Mexico will likely need to win (in the long run) if they want to qualify. The United States aren't going to drop too many games, meaning that Mexico, playing at home, should beat their opponents here—moving back ahead of them in the qualification standings as a result.

However, if the United States can preserve a draw, or somehow even record a win, then they'll have a commanding lead heading into the remaining qualification games. A lead that, barring a shocking collapse, would surely see the USMNT finish above their rivals in the standings.

The tournament is long and the qualification process takes time, but Tuesday's game has the ability to completely shape the group dynamic. A win for either team would have a profound impact on the group (and the spirits of both teams) as they seek to keep their World Cup dream alive.

And it is that dream that will produce a thrilling match on Tuesday, when the Azteca Stadium will play host to the latest chapter in a phenomenal rivalry.

Don't believe that to be the case?

Maybe you should ask any of the 105,000-plus people who have already bought tickets. Because according to latest reports, the Azteca Stadium—one of the largest stadiums in the world—is already sold out in anticipation for what's to come.

It seems Tuesday can't come soon enough.

What do you think will happen between Mexico and the United States?

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