Tuesday, February 12, 2008

WTF doesn't the UMNT play friendlies in Mexico- Our distorted unbeaten record

Originally, I wanted to blog about Mexico’s At Home Record against the USA since I had read so much about our undefeated streak versus Mexico above the border. Surely, I thought, their record in the Azteca must rival our over publicized unbeaten streak. So I went to USSoccer.com and checked it out.

Imagine how shocked I was to find- we simply do not play friendlies with Mexico outside our borders. Furthermore, the only time we play Mexico outside the United States is if we have to- i.e., World Cup Qualifiers, World Cup Final Matches, and International Tourneys like the Confederation Cup.

Confused after all that supremacy, chest beating, “We fucking RULE” internet and media buzz? I sure was. Not that I measured or anything after doing the math, but I could have sworn my penis shrank, inverted, something...

The last two games we played in Mexico were both World Cup Qualifiers since 2000. The latest was a March 27, 2005 2-1 loss in the Azteca. After a game in which the score did not adequately reflect Mexico’s domination, sole American scorer Eddie Lewis said, “To get a result in Azteca is always pretty difficult. Maybe we're just not quite ready yet.

The Soccernet Match Report continued- For now, Mexico City's 7,200-foot altitude remains too high an obstacle for the U.S. team to climb. The Americans are 0-22-1 in Mexico, getting their lone point from a 0-0 tie in a 1997 qualifier.

Mexico had felt the pressure since its 2-0 loss to the United States in the second round of the 2002 World Cup, a game that dented national pride. But that match was played in South Korea, not Mexico, where the Tricolores are 54-1-4.

"We were always taking the initiative," said Mexico coach Ricardo Lavolpe, who received a congratulatory call from President Vicente Fox. "For 90 minutes, there was only one team on the field."

Our other venture to Mexico this millennium was a 1-0 loss- also a World Cup Qualifier. As a reult, what do we do? We stop scheduling games against Mexico outside our country rationalizing that holding games in Hispanic friendly venues like Houston or LA makes the US Nats more resilient since the crowd is usually Pro-Mexican. This is laughable. Actually, I have to amend the last few sentences. we stopped playing games in Mexico long before these results. The last time (I think) we played a friendly in Mexico was July 25, 1993. We got our asses kicked 4-0 even playing Bora Ball. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu writes of engaging a superior opponent, “if in all respects unequal, be capable of eluding him,” or perhaps, fighting the enemy on your own ground at a time of your choosing.

Asked in the week leading up to the latest friendly, U.S. coach Bob Bradley said, “These games are special.” Yes, but special for whom, Bob?

"Yeah, you can call it a clásico," Mexican Team coach Hugo Sánchez retorted. "Call it the Northern Classic."

That's just what the promoters titled it, the Northern Classic with no reciprocal Southern Classico. Sánchez has railed against the The Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación for this scheduling discrepancy since he was appointed- apparently to no avail. He sees past the hype, though undoubtedly the hype rankles. “You have to look at the statistics. If you notice, most of the games are played in the U.S. We have to balance that out and be able to play more friendlies at home against teams that enjoy favorable results against us as of late." Granted, Sánchez has to live with the decisions of his own money hungry Federation.

The US soccer community and media have really played up the results- the undefeated streak (cue Tarzan yells). Yep, everything they write is true; it’s what they don’t tell you that’s misleading- once again, We simply do not play friendlies with Mexico outside our borders. The only time we play Mexico outside the United States is if we have to. Hmmm, I wonder if 'King O Spin' Karl Rove now works for the USSF.

Why do we do this? Does the USSF act like a boxing promoter so our record is an inaccurate reflection? Is this due to our inferiority complex- being the World’s sole Super Power until it comes to the World’s Game? How can we truly claim the CONCAF Crown in the minds of those making up the seedings for the World Cup Finals Draw if we skew the results? God knows how we ever got to 6th place in the World Rankings.

Though playing almost exclusively in the United States may fluff our record, we will brag incessantly as if dominating Mexico in the US is a huge deal. I believe this mentality severely weakens our team as we do not encounter and subsequently overcome adversity. How the USSF expects our boys to win in venues where we have historically been shit (France ’98, Germany 2006 are two recent examples) is beyond me. We beat Mexico in Seoul. We need to get to the point where we can give them a game anytime, anywhere, even in the Azteca. Wouldn’t friendlies be a good proving ground instead of waiting until important Qualifiers? Thank the heavens the USSF had a brain fart, deciding to accept those Copa America invites once again, a tourney that should help us get better.

I’m interested in your thoughts about this.


pate said...

I believe the USSF tried to schedule a friendly in Azteca last year (late summer?), but it fell through due to broadcasting conflicts.

playtherapy said...

Good pick up, I remember that now. All the same, we're talking avoidance of 14-15 years. With the hub-bub about scheduling Euro-friendlies and subsequent congestion, I think a friendly in the Azteca is very different than playing in Poland or London- it's more than a fixture or a simple friendly.

pate said...

True, we do need to play in Azteca more often. I was just pointing out that the attempt was made last year. It seems like the USSF is trying harder these days.

I'd love to see us play a few more friendlies in Central and South America.

playtherapy said...

Yep, the learning curve would be sharp but that's the kind of thinking I belive the USSF needs to have for us to progress to the next level.