2014 World Cup qualifying for the CONCACAF region doesn't get any bigger than Tuesday night's showdown. The two heavyweights of the region will face off against each other in the biggest stage on the continent - United States vs Mexico at the famed Estadio Azteca.
Last time these two clubs faced off it was just a friendly, but the result was one of the most important in United States soccer history. An 80th minute goal by Michael Orozco Fiscal was the difference in a 1-0 U.S. win in Estadio Azteca. The win was the first for the United States on Mexican soil - ever.
That August 2012 win was just a friendly, but on Tuesday night the U.S. Men's National Team will attempt to replicate the outcome in World Cup qualifying.
Mexico Looking to Right the Ship
The Mexican National Team will be looking for the comfort of home to get back to their dominating ways after a disappointing draw in Honduras last Thursday. With Mexico's not so pleasant history in Honduras, a draw normally wouldn't be something that would feel so devastating. Unfortunately for El Tri, it was the manner of how it happened that leaves them wondering what could have been.
After dominating parts of the match and jumping to a commanding 2-0 lead by the 54th minute, the defense leaked two goals to leave San Pedro Sula with a point... or two lost points which is the way most see it.
Mexican media are having a field day with Mexico's recent form, but a loss to their biggest rivals in Azteca could create enough chaos where some would be calling for coach Chepo de la Torre's job.
Minimal Lineup Changes
The USMNT is expected to field a similar team (minus Jermaine Jones) that beat Costa Rica 1-0 in a snowy match in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, while the Mexican National Team is expected to see a key change in the backline.
Lost for Mexico is their starting center back Francisco "Maza" Rodriguez. 20-year old Olympic Gold Medalist and Club America superstar Diego Reyes could get the start, but Chepo has other options as well.
Late Monday evening, Jurgen Klinsmann added Orozco Fiscal to the roster to replace Jones.
U.S. Confidence High
Either way, Mexico will field a very capable side against a United States team that smells blood in the water after their first win ever in Mexico. El Tri will undoubtedly have some additional support this time around from their 12th man - the fans. In August, thousands of empty seats were visible on the telecast for the friendly, but on Sunday word came out the Tuesday night WCQ is officially sold out - meaning Azteca could see a capacity crowd of nearly 105,000.
Three World Cup qualifying matches will be played Tuesday night - United States vs Mexico (Estadio Azteca), Jamaica vs Costa Rica (Estadio Nacional), and Honduras vs Panama (Estadio Rommel Fernández). All six CONCACAF representatives will be looking for pivotal movement in the current standings. The top three teams will automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup, while the fourth place country will face New Zealand in a one game play-off match.
Current WCQ Standings (CONCACAF)
As you get ready for the match, enjoy these two videos.