Mexican soccer officials said Monday that the likelihood exists of an extended training camp ahead of Mexico's opening World Cup qualifier against the United States, which will be played Feb. 11 with all signs pointing to Salt Lake City as the venue of choice.
The plan, FMF exec Guillermo Cantu told reporters, is to have domestic internationals stay together from the days before their scheduled Jan. 28 match against Sweden in Oakland until Feb. 11, thus maximizing their time together and trying to enter the Hexagonal as prepared as possible. European-based players would probably not join up with the team until days before the match.
Typically, the US has an extended training camp at the start of each year since MLS is not in season and the domestic players need to be in shape for the late winter/early spring. In this case, the US will again continue with such an extended camp so expect the Americans to be well prepared in February.
Perhaps it's the significance of the Hex, the poor form El Tri had to close out 2008 or maybe it's even out of respect for the US but for Mexico to dedicate such time and resources to prepare for the US game is a bit out of the ordinary. The league will play on and always plays on during that time of year so players would be out of action for the first several weeks of the Clausura 2009 season. Usually El Tri only disrupts league play in this manner during the lead-up to the World Cup.
However, given the team's terrible run, a World Cup berth is not a given for Mexico.
Cantu also said the team would come together for a similar camp leading up the Aug. 12 qualifier, which kicks off the second part of the Hexagonal calendar. Their opponent? The United States.
So maybe there is something to that respect thing after all. Or is it fear?