US soccer saves Mexico from World Cup elimination, takes shots at El Tri on Twitter


On a night that will go down as one of the most remarkable and entertaining in CONCACAF history, Mexico found themselves on the brink of World Cup elimination before getting bailed out by their biggest rivals, the United States. Twice.

And US Soccer’s official Twitter account couldn’t help but rub it in.

Mexico entered Tuesday night, the final night of World Cup qualifying, needing a win or draw against Costa Rica to stave off elimination and secure at least fourth place, good enough for a playoff against New Zealand and a shot at earning a World Cup berth the long way. A Mexico loss and Panama win over the United States would have eliminated Mexico. And after Panama took an early lead against the United States, the pressure was on El Tri.
Midway through the second half, Costa Rica broke a 1-1 tie, pushing Mexico closer to being shut out of World Cup contention. But mere seconds earlier, just one country down the Central American isthmus, the USA drew level in Panama to keep Mexico in fourth place. In the 84th minute Panama took a second lead over the US, once again putting Mexico on the brink, this time with under ten minutes to go. Costa Rica’s lead held to the end, Mexico were defeated. The players trudged off the pitch with hanging heads, thinking their World Cup hopes had crashed and burned.

They didn’t know that, once again, the USA had just scored — not once, but twice, both in the final minutes of stoppage time — to seal a stunning comeback win that rescued their bitter rivals and send them into a home-and-home playoff tie against New Zealand.

This ironic twist of fate inspired the US twitter account to take some shots at El Tri:

Whether or not Mexicans will take these tweets personally, it’s not like they can have legitimate beef. The simple truth is, without the United States’ help, Mexico would be sitting at home during a World Cup for the first time since 1990, when they were banned by FIFA.


Costa Ricans welcome El Tri with custom casket

Clearly, Costa Ricans love hosting World Cup qualifiers.

A month after welcoming the United States with a hostile reception at the airport, fans of Los Ticos gave Mexico a similarly friendly greeting.

Mocking El Tri for their grave position in World Cup qualifying with one match to go — if they are to lose to Costa Rica on Tuesday night coupled with a Panamia victory against the United States over two goals, Mexico will most likely be eliminated — a small group of fans rolled up to the airport with a coffin draped in Mexico’s colors propped up on a pickup truck. Inside the coffin: a skeleton wearing a Mexico kit.

The message is pretty easy to decipher: 


For more on Mexico’s do-or-die match against Costa Rica, read Kyle McCarthy’s preview and key points to the match.


Five key points: Costa Rica vs Mexico

A tortured Hexagonal road comes down to this one match for Mexico: a point or better in Costa Rica tonight guarantees the quest for a berth at next summer’s World Cup to continue for at least a few more weeks.

Mexico will expect to claim the draw required to secure a playoff with New Zealand next month and perhaps even snatch the victory necessary to apply pressure on Honduras, who travel to Jamaica. El Tri enjoys a fine record in Costa Rica (three consecutive victories in World Cup qualifiers), while the hosts possess little incentive to perform with their place in Brazil already booked.

Costa Rica will still attempt to spoil Mexico’s fun, though. It is a threat the visitors must take seriously. At this stage of the proceedings, there isn’t any room for error. El Tri must heed these fundamental tenets in order to avoid the ultimate failure by the end of Tuesday night.

1. Weigh any personnel changes carefully: Mexico coach Victor Manuel Vucetich tailors his tactics to fit the situation at hand. He chose a 4-4-2 formation for the 2-1 victory against Panama on Friday, but he could opt for another setup – perhaps by dropping a striker and inserting a central midfielder to counter the Ticos’ usual 5-3-2 alignment – to reinforce the defensive structure away from home. The tinkering comes with a caveat, though: any potential alterations – even the prospect of keeping the 4-4-2 and replacing Javier Hernández with Raúl Jiménez in a nod to popular sentiment – could disrupt the fragile progress made during the early stages of the new regime.

2. Focus on the task at hand: Mexico controls its destiny: a draw in Costa Rica clinches a two-legged tie against the All Whites next month. Nothing else – not the United States’ visit to Panama and the help it could lend, nor the Honduras-Jamaica game and the potential bounty it could reap – matters. Any distractions from the instant duties within their direct purview could prove very, very costly indeed.

3. Remember the circumstances: Composure and concentration represent the pillars of a successful performance in these fraught conditions. Even a momentary drop can lead to chaos, particularly with Costa Rica’s ability to pose problems on the break and from set pieces. Mexico must maintain the proper application for the duration of the affair – again, a lingering problem for this group that almost dashed any hopes of a World Cup place on Friday – to avoid disaster.


Ticos fans are relishing the chance to ruin Mexico’s World Cup hopes.

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How can Mexico defeat the United States in Columbus?

Crew Stadium functions as a venue of reckoning for Mexico. It isn’t necessary right now. At this tender point in El Tri’s existence, a dash of reality isn’t required. Every player understands the increasingly complicated and dire situation in the wake of a 2-1 home defeat to Honduras on Friday and José Manuel de la Torre’s departure.

Rejuvenation and revival are required now to push aside the events of the past and start planning for Brazil next summer. The first step toward recovery involves procuring a result in Columbus, the capital of Ohio and the center of Mexico’s American nightmares during the past three journeys through the Hexagonal.

Dos a cero occurs reflexively when Mexico steps between the lines in this haunted ground. The seemingly preordained result meanders along a different path in each instance (Rafa Márquez’s continued indiscipline provides one more common thread) without straying from the inevitable conclusion at the final whistle.

Another two-goal setback isn’t inevitable, though. Mexico can break its duck in Columbus. As Honduras can attest in the aftermath of its triumph at Estadio Azteca, the past does not dictate the present. It won’t be easy for El Tri to contradict its prolonged run of poor form to collect a famous victory, but it could dispel the mysticism surrounding this hostile road venue forever if it adheres and upholds a few selected principles on Tuesday night.

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Brave USMNT fans travel to Honduras


By: Leander Schaerlaeckens

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – When their national anthem played ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup Qualifier, the droplet of Americans amid the sea of Hondurans could be heard singing along throughout much of the deafening Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano. There were only three dozen or so of them, but for those eight lines, they would not be drowned out by the fevered drums, air horns, stomping and chanting of 35,000 locals.


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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: It starts!

The World Cup journey that begins anew for the United States here in Honduras on Wednesday last ended in a chilly press tent outside of the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, more than two and a half years ago

Zigzagging through the motorcade were four pickup trucks with cameramen standing upright in the bed, perilously balancing themselves as they provided live feeds of the Americans’ arrival for their television stations. The trucks jostled for position for the best shot of the back of the nondescript bus, dodging the police scooters and veering into the opposite lane, forcing oncoming traffic off the road. And so the US wound its way to their heavily securitized hotel, passing desperately poor slums and the stadium where it will all go down on Wednesday.

Read more here.