We are officially three weeks away from the biggest game of 2009 - at least around these parts - as the United States will host Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match. On Feb. 11, CONCACAF’s two best nations will once again renew their hostilities in what promises to be an emotional and memorable affair.
Just how memorable will the game be? How will it rank against previous US-Mexico encounters? Only time will tell, but I’ve put together what I feel is a comprehensive list of US-Mexico encounters to give us all an idea of what sort of history precedes the match.
From today until the latest edition of US-Mexico, I will count down the top 21 moments in the rivalry’s history. You’ll get one game each day, with the countdown culminating on Feb. 11. Little by little, you’ll be able to read about the rivalry, reminisce about how it unfolded and see why it’s become one of the best rivalries in international football.
Before I get to Number 21, I should let you know about the criteria I used to base this countdown on.
I placed significance on meaningful matches; for instance Gold Cup games generally carried more weight than friendlies, while World Cup qualifying matches and the World Cup itself had the most significance. Having said that, though, only three of the top seven matches involved the World Cup and/or qualifiers so clearly other factors are involved.
Also, sheer drama was a factor as were the circumstances surrounding the match. Lastly, any sort of long-lasting effects carried weight as well. Some friendlies thus had more significance and ranked higher on the list than some tournament games – two friendlies can be found in the top 12. And with all due respect to the Under-17s, Under-20s, Under-23s and women, I limited this to men's senior national team matches. Additionally, I added lineups for the games they were available.
With that, here is the list beginning with the first US-Mexico match of the new millennium.
21. US Cup 2000; East Rutherford, N.J.; June 11, 2000: US 3, Mexico 0. The U.S. put to bed back-and-forth home results against Mexico with a convincing 3-0 win over Mexico in the final version of the US Cup. Internal problems with El Tri forced Mexico to send a squad primarily made of players from Pumas and thus the U.S. handed Hugo Sanchez his first-ever loss against the Americans in this match played at Giants Stadium. Brian McBride scored in the first half while Frankie Hejduk and Ante Razov put an exclamation mark on the rout as the Americans throttled Mexico.
United States: Kasey Keller; Tony Sanneh, Carlos Llamosa (Gregg Berhalter 71), Jeff Agoos, David Regis; Earnie Stewart (Frankie Hejduk 76), Chris Armas, Claudio Reyna (captain), John O'Brien (Ben Olsen 64); Brian McBride (Ante Razov 81), Cobi Jones (Jovan Kirovski. 89).
Mexico: Sergio Bernal; Joaquin Beltran, Isreal Lopez (captain), Gerrado Torrado; Luis Perez (Luis Ignacio Gonzalez 66), Paulo Cesar Chavez (Carlos Carino 85), Horacio Sanchez (Jaime Lozano 46), Jesus Olalde; Christian Ramirez Raul Lapizar, Daniel Orsono (Ignacio Flores 77).
US - McBride 33
US - Hejduk 79
US - Razov 85