Mexico coach Javier Aguirre says his team can expect a full strength United States line-up when the Americans attempt to make history on Wednesday with a first-ever win in Mexico.
A few American players arriving on Tuesday at Mexico City’s airport heard the chants from Mexican fans: “cinco, cinco, cinco” meaning “five, five , five.” The good-natured jibes were a reference to Mexico’s 5-0 victory over the U.S. just over two weeks ago in the Gold Cup final.
Aguirre is cautioning there’ll be no repeat in Wednesday’s crucial World Cup qualifier at 105,000-seat Estadio Azteca. The U.S. is likely to field 11 different players from the “B” team it used at Giants Stadium.
“They’ll use players, all new players,” Aguirre said Tuesday. “We may field a similar team, but to score five goals in quick succession like we did is very improbable.”
The United States has never won in Mexico, playing 23 times and losing 22 with a lone 0-0 draw in a 1997 qualifier. Mexico also holds a large edge in the overall series, but since 1990 the U.S. has lost only eight of 29 games with Mexico.
A U.S. victory would put in solidly on course to reach its sixth straight World Cup. A loss for Mexico could be a sharp blow for a team already struggling to get to South Africa.
“It’s rare that you get a chance for redemption so quickly in sports,” U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said on Tuesday. “I think we’re going to change history.”
Only four U.S. players have played at Azteca forward Landon Donovan, and defenders Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu and Steve Cherundolo. Coach Bob Bradley is also making his first visit.
“My experience is that until you play in the game you don’t fully understand what it’s all about,” Donovan said. “There’s very specific things like the flight of the ball is different. A ball you think you might get your head on goes over your head.”