Mexico insist US friendly just "preparation game" for WCQ

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MEXICO CITY – Mexico head coach José Manuel de la Torre is not known for sweeping, headline-grabbing statements. And both he and his squad have been typically restrained in the build-up to Wednesday's match with the United States (8 pm ET, ESPN2, Univision, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).

The aftershocks of El Tri's gold medal in the London Olympics continue to reverberate, especially with the fact that the medal winners will be paraded on the pitch at halftime.

But de la Torre, for his part, has been especially coy and last spoke to the press on Monday, emphasizing the fact the duel is a friendly.

“It's a preparation game, we've only got one before taking on Costa Rica [in World Cup qualifying] and we'll approach it as such,” he told the Mexican press. “We'd also like to go about it in the best way possible and that necessarily means getting a good result.”

PREVIEW: US look for first-ever win in Azteca vs. Mexico

Manchester United's Javier “Chicharito” Hernández (above) backed up his manager's cautious tone, stating the game is “important” but emphasizing that it is a stepping stone to World Cup qualification.

“The United States are going to be a difficult opponent,” said Hernández. “There is a [big] rivalry with them and they will want to win, but we want to win too and to perform in front of our fans.”

The Mexican national team comes into the game off the back of five straight victories and the euphoria of the Olympics, but the clear message coming from the Mexico squad is that they are trying to keep their feet firmly on the ground.

“History has shown Mexico has never qualified for a World Cup [by taking it easy],” said Valencia's Andrés Guardado, stressing the importance of a good performance against the United States. “A lot of people don't understand how difficult the [CONCACAF] zone is.”

Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.