MEXICO CITY – Just because the main antagonists are missing, don’t underestimate the Americans.
That was the message from the Mexican national team ahead of Tuesday’s massive World Cup qualifier here between the archrivals (10:30 pm ET, ESPN/Univision, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Mexican fans may not know as many of the names taking the field, as neither Landon Donovan nor Tim Howard – classic foils in this rivalry – are here. But for El Tri, the Americans are still every bit as dangerous.
“Don’t think that because the players aren’t well-known that they are bad,” Valencia winger Andrés Guardado (above, right) warned reporters at Monday’s training session. “The United States is a great national team and we respect them a lot.”
Particularly their strength, as they come into Azteca looking to build on their first-ever win on Mexican soil in 25 tries last August. According to center back Diego Reyes, who plays his club ball in the stadium for Club América and will likely start in place of suspended Francisco “Maza” Rodríguez, the Americans will lean heavily on their most dangerous weapon.
“I think it is from set pieces,” he said. “They are tall and strong and we have to be attentive to that.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.