GUADALAJARA, Mexico – There’s a jittery feel to Mexico’s front and back pages on the day El Tri face the United States at Columbus Crew Stadium (8 pm ET; ESPN/UniMas), where the hosts have dominated previous matches between the two.
“Now or never” reads La Afición’s main headline, neatly summing up the feeling at present in Mexico, which is in real danger of missing out on a World Cup for the first time since 1990.
The main split photo of Landon Donovan pointing to his head and Javier "Chichariot" Hernández motioning towards his heart with the palm of his hand couldn’t be more evocative.
The front page of Mural gives a sidebar guide to tonight’s possible results from the Mexican angle, insisting a win for El Tri, combined with a Honduras loss, would be a cause for celebration; a draw for both Mexico and Honduras means maintaining belief and a loss for Mexico, in combination with a Panama victory, would signify it is time for Mexico fans to start praying.
El Universal takes a measured look at the hard stats in an article entitled “El Tri goes on mission impossible,” highlighting the fact Mexico haven't won a World Cup qualifier in the United States since 1972 and the USMNT haven’t lost at home since 2001 – a run of 25 games.
Perhaps the best headline is that of Récord: “So hungry for a … McTriumph.”
The blurb continues: “When the soccer fails, when the atmosphere is hostile, when faith is lost … it’s time to show heart. Wake up, Mexico, let’s go!”
Notably lacking from the coverage compared to recent Mexico-US games are references to the bitter rivalry between the two sides. Quite simply, the points at stake when the two CONCACAF giants clash in Columbus seem to be taking priority.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.