Jurgen Klinsmann wants to test the United States against the best – even though he’d be the first to say his team is nowhere close to winning a major tournament just yet.
Since becoming head coach of the national team nearly a year ago, Klinsmann has scheduled friendlies against international powerhouses Mexico and Brazil at home and Italy on the road in preparation for this year's World Cup qualifying schedule.
The Americans lost to both Mexico and Brazil, but they surprisingly defeated the Italians last February for their first win against the European nation in 11 attempts dating back to 1934. Italy has since made up for any embarrassment it may have suffered in that friendly by advancing to the semifinals of this year’s European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
Now, Klinsmann is hoping his team can enter another unfriendly territory and conquer the Mexican team on its home turf at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. While the U.S. has a record of 15-32-12 record against Mexico, the team is winless against its biggest rival in games played south of the border in 24 games (0-23-1) since 1984.
“Mexico has proven to be one of the top teams in the world in the moment, so for us this is a huge opportunity,” Klinsmann said. “The U.S. and Mexico have a very special rivalry, and the chance to be challenged in an environment like Estadio Azteca in Mexico City will be another important experience for the development of our players.”
The United States’ visit to Mexico falls in between two series of World Cup qualifying matches for each team. It will be played on Aug. 15, an international fixture date designated for friendly matches, which means both teams will be bringing in their top guns.
“It’s loud, the fans get involved and it’s rowdy,” is the way defender Geoff Cameron described the atmosphere of playing road games in the CONCACAF region. “That’s one thing you have to deal with when you come down to these types of places.”
Add a team that features some of the best players in the world and there’s a real challenge.
It’s exactly what Klinsmann is looking for.