The U.S. national team’s successful run at the 2014 World Cup helped spark record levels of interest in the sport, as well as creating a new legion of fans for the team Jurgen Klinsmann guided in Brazil.
Just when will American fans get to see that team play on American soil? It looks at this point like they will have to wait a while longer to see their national team in person.
With the U.S. team’s proposed friendly against Colombia slated for September in San Antonio, Texas now reportedly called off after a failure by Colombia to sign contracts in time, the Americans are looking at a remaining 2014 schedule with just two matches - in Europe, against the Czech Republic and Ireland.
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The USA is reportedly set to face Ecuador on American soil on Oct. 14, though that match has yet to be officially announced by U.S. Soccer, and it remains anyone’s guess just where that match will be played.
With all due respect to Ecuador, U.S. Soccer needs to schedule another home friendly in that window, and one featuring a more high-profile opponent. That won’t be easy considering European countries will be taking part in Euro qualifiers (and Colombia will be playing Ecuador on Oct. 8).
One team that doesn’t currently have any October friendlies scheduled is Mexico, which is also trying to capture the buzz of an impressive World Cup. ‘El Tri’ has its own high-profile friendlies lined up this year, with a meeting against Chile in September, and a trip to Amsterdam to face the Netherlands in a rematch of their Round of 16 defeat.
The past dozen years have seen an over-saturation of meetings between the CONCACAF powers, but now would be the perfect time to renew the rivalry. The USA and Mexico only just met in a friendly in April in Arizona, a thrilling 2-2 tie taht provided a great test for both teams ahead of the World Cup. An October rematch would only be six months later, but plenty has happened to make it still a match worth playing again.
You have all the elements for an enticing friendly. There is already the rivalry factor, but you also have the fact that both teams had impressive World Cups and their respective fan bases are feeling bullish about their teams. As far as Mexican fans are concerned, their terrible World Cup qualifying campaign never happened, and 'El Tri' is once again the king of CONCACAF, capable of beating the Americans for the first time since the 2011 Gold Cup Final.
In short, a USA-Mexico friendly could probably fill any stadium you could think of putting it in.
Where would a USA-Mexico friendly in October make the most sense? MetLife Stadium in New Jersey would be perfect. It would give both teams a chance to showcase their players in the New York City market, and the match would be a very good bet to sell out the 82,500 seat facility. At present, no events are scheduled at the stadium for Wednesday, Oct. 10, which would allow stadium organizers to repair the venue before and after the NFL games scheduled for the weekends before and after Oct. 10 (in other words, plenty of time to install and remove a temporary grass field).
MetLife Stadium has already hosted several successful friendlies at the venue, from the unforgettable Argentina-Brazil friendly in 2012 to the more recent pre-World Cup meeting between Portugal and Ireland. Ecuador is set to face Brazil at MetLife Stadium in September.
It wouldn’t be the first time the U.S. team’s first post-World Cup match were played at MetLife Stadium. Four years ago, the Americans lost to Brazil, 2-0, in a match that featured a Brazilian national team newcomer named Neymar. That day, 77,203 fans showed up to take in the action. Imagine the crowd for a USA-Mexico meeting?
If this potential meeting isn’t already in the works, it needs to be, and if U.S. Soccer didn’t think it needed to turn to the old reliable moneymaking matchup of years past before, it must certainly consider it now after Colombia reportedly dropped the ball on what would have been a very successful and lucrative friendly at the AlamoDome against an entertaining Colombian national team featuring Real Madrid star James Rodriguez.
If not MetLife Stadium, then perhaps AT&T Stadium in Dallas, which has become a sort of unofficial home away from home for the Mexican national team. The venue is available for Oct. 10, and filling the 80,000 stadium in Texas wouldn’t be a problem at all for the latest installment of USA-Mexico.
Whether it is held the New York Area, or in Dallas, or in Chicago (where Soldier Field is available and already has a grass field), a USA-Mexico friendly in October just makes too much sense not to make happen.
U.S. Soccer needs to make it happen, and it is tough to see why Mexico would object considering there is a good chance there would be just as many Mexico fans at the game, if not more.
And let’s face it, if the Mexican federation hesitates, the Americans just might have to bring up that big favor the U.S. national team did for ‘El Tri’ less than a year ago in Panama. It might be a bit early to call in that chit, but American fans deserve to see their national team play at home as soon as possible, and against an exciting opponent.
Who better to be that opponent than the U.S. national team’s greatest rival?