Before we get to business, let me begin with a preface: I have been very impressed (and thankful) that Kyle has not only tolerated my outburst of soccer fandom so far this summer, but has actually participated in one or two of the in-game open comment threads we've had during the Gold Cup. I do not take this as a sign that he's warming to soccer as a sport, mind you... I'm merely thankful that I haven't been publicly lambasted for causing half of the FanPosts on the right-hand side of your computer screen to be about soccer. :-) On to tonight's match!
Our boys found a way to defeat a Panamanian team on Wednesday that was a shadow of the squad that had previously upended us, and Mexico needed overtime, but notched a 2-0 victory against Hounduras, so the TV execs and CONCACAF officials once again got the premier final they wanted. The United States will be taking the Rose Bowl field at 9:00 tonight to play Mexico, and the winner will hoist the Gold Cup.
(TL;DR stuff following the jump.)
Tonight's contest will be the 59th meeting between USA and Mexico. El Tri holds the overall series lead with 32 wins, 15 losses, and 11 draws, but the USA has dominated over the last 20 years. Since the Gold Cup semifinal on July 5, 1991, the USA has built a record of 14-9-6, including 12-4-5 in games played on U.S. soil.
Prior to 1991, of course, Mexico had grown accustomed to being the unchallenged Lord of the Flies, and the USA don't play second fiddle to nobody, so over the last couple of decades, this North American rivalry has developed into a hate-fest worthy of SEC football. Pictures speak louder than words, however, so I'll let Axl Rose take you through a video history of the heated, physical USA-Mexico rivalry. It's a little over 4 minutes long, but trust me, it's worth it. (The best part starts after the 1:10 mark.)
Unfortunately, the talent level of Mexico's team has taken a dramatic upswing in recent years with the addition of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Giovanni Dos Santos, Andres Guardado, and other excellent players, while our talent pool has been notably aging, with younger stars not yet really emerging to replace the Donovans, Dempseys, and Howards of the current team. As a result, Mexico has rapidly passed the U.S. team in perceived ability, once again becoming the premier team in CONCACAF in the eyes of the world.
A win tonight would go a long way towards righting the ship, however, so let's cheer on our boys in the hope that they can achieve that goal (pun intended)!
On a completely different note, another commenter recently pointed out that the Women's World Cup, in which the USA is one of top teams, is starting on Sunday. I have no intention of starting open comment threads for those matches, however. I admit that I watched every match of the WWC back in 1999, and screamed like a girl (pun intended) when the USA won. To be honest, though, I can't for the life of me figure out what its appeal was back then.
I mean, don't get me wrong, it's great to watch the USA win and all... but now that I've seen about 20 years worth of soccer played by both genders, I realize that the men's game has more speed, power, and skill by an order of magnitude. And, to be honest, it doesn't help that our greatest women's player is a Florida Gator. (I hate Florida.) (And on an I-hope-this-isn't-improper note, I'm not going to start a discussion of certain aspects of this team that might make TV execs shy and uncomfortable, other than to say those things have absolutely nothing to do with my opinions of women's soccer.)
I do regularly attend UGA women's soccer games, but I do that because 1) Hello, it's Georgia! 2) UGA has no men's soccer team, and 3) The Turner Family Sports Complex (at which the field is located) is literally about 4 miles from my house. At any rate, I will most likely watch some, if not all of the USA's matches in the 2011 Women's World Cup, but I will not be opening any comment threads for them.
But back to the main event... USA-Mexico! Will the best team win tonight? Let's hope not!