GLENDALE, Ariz. – No game in North America is more heated than U.S. vs. Mexico, but this time around, the match isn’t about the result, it’s about the way that the U.S. Men’s National Team performs according to Landon Donovan.
The two archrivals will take the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona on Wednesday in what promises to be a heated match, but Donovan states that the U.S. must remain on form with the 2014 FIFA World Cup less than 80 days away.
“If we play very well tomorrow and we’re a little unlucky and they score a fluke goal and we lose, we can still be satisfied with that,” Donovan told reporters prior to the team’s training session on Tuesday at the University of Phoenix Stadium. “Conversely, if we don’t play well at all and sneak in a win, we might feel okay, but we all want to play well and show well tomorrow.”
Although there is nothing on the line in Wednesday’s friendly, Mexico is eager for a result against the U.S. even after the Americans were instrumental in helping El Tri qualify for the World Cup. The Mexicans were just minutes from being eliminated from contention after losing to Costa Rica, but the USMNT’s late 3-2 win against Panama helped El Tri qualify for a World Cup playoff against New Zealand that Mexico ultimately won.
The United States’ role in helping their CONCACAF rivals qualify for the World Cup was a hot button issue at both teams’ training sessions on Tuesday as El Tri head coach Miguel Herrera declared that “[the U.S.] owe us more, for [taking] California,” in reference to American settlers helping the state secede from Mexico in the 19th century.
While the U.S. players or head coach Jurgen Klinsmann refused to allow Herrera to bait them into a war of words ahead of the match, Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez stated that he doubted that Mexico would’ve help out the U.S. if the roles were reversed.
“I doubt it. They probably would have forfeited the game,” Gonzalez said with a smile on his face.
“Mexico didn’t have a great qualifier, but the past is the past,” Gonzalez continued. “We’re all just looking forward to having a good game between two good games tomorrow.”
But while Donovan is focusing on the process, Gonzalez wants a win against the team’s nemesis from the south.
“It’d be fantastic to get a win against Mexico. Obviously, we never want to lose to them,” said Gonzalez. “For us to put a great performance would be very great especially heading into our next three matches [before the World Cup].”