ARLINGTON, Texas – Now the real business begins in CONCACAF.
After weeks of training and international friendlies, World Cup qualifying is set to begin this week, including matches for both Mexico and the United States.
And even if Mexico defeated a Brazilian team 2-0 that last week provided a reality check to Jurgen Klinsmann’s US squad, the Mexican national team is quite aware of the quality their northern neighbors are capable of producing.
“I think that the United States is a team that has always been coming up,” midfielder Giovani dos Santos said after Sunday’s friendly in North Texas. “I think that the results didn’t come at first but that’s normal with a coaching change, and I think that in time the United States will come to have a very strong team.”
The US and Mexico played to a 1-1 draw in Klinsmann's coaching debut last summer in Philadelphia. They'll suit up for another friendly in August, but this time they'll clash at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
“The United States have been improving in the last few months and with their last few results,” said New York Red Bulls Designated Player Rafa Márquez, who did not play against Brazil. “They are the team that we’re always waiting for. [They are] a very strong rival.”
Brazilian head coach Mano Menezes got a good look at both the Mexican and United States squads over the past week and cleared up comments made earlier Saturday when he referred to Mexico as being a tougher opponent.
“I wasn’t comparing the teams in terms of quality,” Menezes said in his postgame press conference on Sunday afternoon. “I was referring to Mexico having more experience, being that they have played more games together and had more obstacles. The United States have a different formation and it’s a fairly new team under Jurgen Klinsmann.”
Regardless of what Brazil saw from both sides, Márquez & Co. know any match against the US will present its own set of challenges.
“They keep getting better,” added Márquez. “They are the United States that we know from previous encounters.”