If you’re English, you’ll love the weather. It’s chilly (about 43 degrees in American measurement and 6 degrees Celsius) in Cincinnati. And it’s raining.
Good evening to all of our readers in the Americas, and a good early morning to those watching out of curiosity in Europe.
This is a big one. USA-Mexico games are always hot tickets no matter what’s at stake, but this time around, everything is at stake.
That’s especially true for the USA, which beat Mexico twice this year to win the Concacaf Nations League and the Gold Cup but is still shaken by their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. A sputtering start in the new Octagonal (eight-team final round), with a 0-0 draw against El Salvador and a 1-1 home draw against Canada didn’t settle the nerves. A 4-1 win at Honduras calmed things a bit, but the October window had a 1-0 loss at Panama.
As it stands now, the USA are second in the group. But a loss tonight will cause national hand-wringing and social media outrage.
Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, here is Cesar Hernandez’s preview of tonight’s match:
It began with a corner kick.
If you’re looking for a starting point for the US men’s national team’s failure to book a spot at the 2018 World Cup, there may be no better moment than a set-piece for Mexico on 11 November 2016.
After four consecutive 2-0 World Cup qualifying wins over Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, the US suddenly found themselves with an unfamiliar 1-1 scoreline against their old rivals at the Mapfre Stadium.
Then, in the 89th minute, that corner from Miguel Layún found the head of veteran defender Rafael Márquez, who perfectly redirected the ball into the back of the net. The crowd of 24,000 in Columbus were stunned as Mexico not only took a 2-1 lead, but also secured their first World Cup qualifying away win against the Americans since 1972.
The loss to Mexico foreshadowed a dismal run against Concacaf opponents and the US failed to make the World Cup for the first time since 1986.