Soccer fans, lend us your expertise.
The 0-0 tie Tuesday night at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City is being hailed this morning as basically a victory for Team USA over its arch-rival, Mexico’s national team.
The Americans have never actually won an important game in Mexico. But Tuesday’s tie means they come away with a much-needed point in the standings among teams trying to qualify for the 2014 World Cup tournament. It’s only the second time Team USA has earned a point from a game at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.
As NPR’s Carrie Kahn explained on Morning Edition, that stadium is a very tough place to play for Team USA. It’s an understatement to say that the 100,000+ fans are loud and raucous. And they aren’t shy about expressing themselves. When the game ended, Carrie said, “a rain of beer cups and soda cans came crashing down” on the 500 or so U.S. fans who had been brave enough to attend (they were protected by about 100 police in riot gear).
Sports Illustrated‘s Grant Wahl told Carrie that Azteca Stadium “has been a house of horrors for the U.S. over the years.” To tie Mexico there, he added, “is a huge moment for U.S. soccer.”
Wahl writes today that the Americans got “the result they needed vs. Mexico.” And he adds that:
“Last week, when the U.S. national team was beset by injuries and doubts over whether coach Jurgen Klinsmann had lost the locker room, the range of possible public opinions after the two World Cup qualifiers this week was fascinating. On one end was ‘Fire Klinsmann Now’ if the U.S. lost both games to Costa Rica and Mexico. And at the other end was ‘Klinsmann is a genius’ if the U.S. somehow found a way to win both games.
“Well, look what happened. The U.S. grabbed four points in two games, beating Costa Rica and earning a point in Estadio Azteca for the second time in history on Tuesday in a taut 0-0 tie against a frustrated (and now winless) Mexico team. While Klinsmann didn’t quite end up on the extreme ‘genius’ end of the scale, he was closer than just about anyone would have expected 10 days ago.”
Our question for soccer fans — how big a deal is this tie with Mexico?