Ten Facts About the Mexico—U.S. Rivalry

Eric GomezAnalyst IFebruary 16, 2009

On Wednesday, "The CONCACAF Classic" wrapped up its latest edition with the United States taking the first three points in World Cup qualification by beating El Tri, 2-0.

Ever since the spring of 1934, when these two countries first met—in preparation for the World Cup that same year—there have been more than 50 official matches between Yankees and Aztecs. While Mexico still holds a whopping lead in the overall statistics, there has been plenty for both nations to savor.

Here's a rundown of 10 things that you might not know about the Mexico—USA rivalry:

10. The Longest Streak Without A Win

In 1934, after the United States defeated Mexico in their first official match, 4-2, it would take the Americans 46 years and 24 matches to get another win. In preparation for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the teams met twice, once in Mexico City, and once in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Mexico thrashed the United States 5-1 at home. However, on American soil, the USA prevailed 2-1, snapping the longest drought in the history of the rivalry between wins.

During this span, America had eight presidents, emerged victorious from a World War, landed on the moon, and, with Watergate, started the trend of adding the suffix "-gate" to every major (and minor) crisis since.

9. The Most Goals Scored In A Single Game

For a 1937 friendly celebrated in Mexico City, the Mexican and American national teams combined for a whopping 10 goals. Mexico won the match, 7-3. At the Parque Necaxa stadium, the countries played their second of three head-to-head games that year.

In the 37th minute, the legendary Horacio Casarín put Mexico ahead. Two minutes later, Manuel Alonso would make it 2-0. After the break, Casarín and Alonso helped Mexico extend their lead to 4-0 via goals in the 50th and 54th minutes.

The United States would cut the deficit in the 60th minute with George Nemchik finding the back of the home team's net. However, Mexico would socre three more times in the next 15 minutes, with goals from Luis García Cortina, Manuel Alonso's third, and Luis Arguelles. The score read 7-1.

In the final 10 minutes, the United States would strike twice more as George Nemchik completed a brace and Carlos Lavada put the ball in his own net in the 89th minute.

8. The Place Where Mexican Goals Go To Die

Since inaugurating Crew Stadium in 1999, the United States have found a suitable venue in which home-field advantage plays a factor when they face Mexico.

In three meetings—all World Cup qualifiers—the United States have a trio of victories, never once allowing a goal to the Mexican squad.

The game is dubbed "The Cold War" by the Mexican media, due to the fact that all three matches have been celebrated on nights where the temperatures have dipped below 50ºF.

7. Home Sweet Home

On March 13, 1999, a pair of José Manuel Abundis goals knocked the Americans out of the aptly named Nike U.S. Cup before a sizable crowd at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

This was the last game in which a road team won a match.

In the ensuing 14 matches played in either the United States or Mexico, road teams are 0-12-2, with the two stalemates coming in a 2003 contest in Houston and a 2008 match in Phoenix.

Road teams have also scored an abysmal four goals while conceding 25.

6. Worth Its Weight In Gold

CONCACAF's most important national team competition, the Gold Cup, has been in place in its current incarnation since 1991. As the two region powers, the tournament has produced some classic matches for these two countries.

In four head-to-head matches, both teams have won two apiece. Usually placed in different groups to avoid early confrontations that might leave a country out of the knockout stages, these games have often decided who wins the Cup or who goes on to the final.

In the 1991 semifinal, the U.S. knocked Mexico out by a 2-0 margin, eventually winning the inaugural tournament by way of beating Honduras on penalty kicks.

Two years later, before a crowd of 120,000 at Mexico's fabled Azteca Stadium, the Americans were trounced by a score of 4-0 in the final match, resulting in Mexico's fourth CONCACAF conquest.

At the '98 Gold Cup, Mexico doubled the dose by wrestling a 1-0 decision from the USA in Los Angeles. It was America's only loss in the tournament.

It would be nine years before the two teams met in the final for the third time.

A first-half goal by Andrés Guardado gave Mexico a 1-0 lead, but in the second period, a penalty struck by Landon Donovan and a spectacular Benny Feilhaber goal gave the U.S. their fourth CONCACAF title.

5. Mexican Americans

Currently, two of the US National Team's brightest young stars could have also played for Mexico had they chosen to. Oddly enough, the two players star in Mexican league teams.

Michael Orozco (born in Orange, Calif.) and José Francisco Torres (Longview, Texas) were both eligible to play for El Tri due to their parents being Mexican citizens.

Orozco was scouted early on by American scouts despite plying his trade in Primera División club San Luis, while Torres opted to represent America after being shunned by Mexico boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

On the flip side, New Mexico native Edgar Castillo has suited up for Mexico and played in four matches since his debut in 2007.

Still undecided (and unselected) are Toluca midfielder Diego de la Torre and Chivas de Guadalajara striker Jesús Padilla.

4. The Man In Charge

The only man to ever manage both the United States and Mexican national teams is the Serbian-born Velibor "Bora" Milutinovic.

Bora was introduced to North American football when he enrolled in Mexican club UNAM Pumas as a player, later managing it, immediately after retiring, from 1977 to 1981. His highly successful spell propelled him to the Mexican national team job, which he held on two separate occasions.

After guiding Mexico to the quarterfinals in the 1986 World Cup (their best showing ever), Milutinovic took Costa Rica to the 1990 World Cup. Four years later, Milutinovic guided the United States to the knockout stages of the tournament.

He's also managed Nigeria and China to appearances in football's most important competition.

3. Eternal Internationals

Both of these national teams boast having a player in the top five list of international caps.

Claudio Suárez, who at the age of 40 plies his trade for Chivas USA, represented Mexico 178 times between 1992 and 2006. He's only second to Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Al Deayea and his 181 caps.

America's iron man is Cobi Jones, who donned the red, white and blue 164 times between 1992 and 2004, good for fourth all-time, and just five shy of Hossam Hassan's 169 games with the Egyptian squad.

2. Two Flags, One Player

Martín Vasquez is the only player in the history of international football to don both the Mexican and American team shirts. A citizen of both nations, Vasquez played in three matches for Mexico between 1990 and 1992.

After his short window of play with Mexico closed, Vasquez was granted permission to play for the United States in seven more games between 1996 and 1998.

1. Dos A Cero

The American chant of choice when facing Mexico stems from their only World Cup meeting. At Jeonju, Korea, in 2002, a favored Mexico faced an upstart United States team that had squeaked past their group in second place.

Mexico, on the other hand had beaten 1998 third-place winner Croatia, Ecuador, and drawn with powerhouse Italy.

Only eight minutes into the game, Brian McBride struck for the Yanks, making the score 1-0. Mexican coach Javier Aguirre pushed forward with a substitution in the 28th minute, bringing on Luis Hernández in favor of Ramón Morales. The move did not work as planned, and in the second half the Americans extended their lead.

Landon Donovan struck the second goal home in the 65th minute and sent a stunned Mexico home early. The Americans on the other hand, would go on and give eventual runners-up Germany a run for their money before finally falling 1-0.


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