Here's the thing: I love to hate on Mexico. When the USA takes the field against El Tri, I devolve; I'm a tribal dickhead, hating the other, terrified of the possibility of failure, gloating shamelessly when things go well. I chant 'Dos a cero" over the microphone at work, cutting off the music in the kitchen and forcing my Mexican co-workers to listen.
I love to "hate on" Mexico, it's true. But I don't have any hate for Mexico - far from it. Mexico is overwhelmingly complex and compelling, and its football is infused with the inventiveness and passion of its culture. If there's no 'Mexico' ping-pong ball in the Brazil group draw, the event will be poorer for it.
This two-game series should be compelling viewing. New Zealand are built around the same defend-and-counter model as those early-noughts USA teams that so bedeviled el Tri and began the tradition of Dos a Cero. And the pressure couldn't be greater on Mexico - reports have the potential loss to Mexico's football economy at $600 million should they crumble in the two-legged playoff.
Of course, looking at the teamsheets, Mexico should win in a stroll. But it's been a while since el Tri played well two games in a row in games that mattered. I mean, they won two games in the hex - two out of 10! I would be sad to see Mexico miss the World Cup, but if they miss, it's on merit. Their talent has never been deeper, and they've never played worse.
The Fire's own Egidio Arevalo Rios (apparently shaking off his Marry/Boff/Kill results) was, as of this writing, playing lights-out for Uruguay in their first game of a two-legged playoff against Jordan. As expected, the Celeste controlled play, with el Cacha instrumental in spells of suffocating pressure on the overwhelmed Jordanians.
Some wondered if Jordan could ride their splendid home form to make it interesting against the South Americans. Uruguay's quality has put those slender hopes to the sword; they lead 3-0 in the 75th minute in the road leg. The return fixture in Montevideo could be more coronation than contest.