New Zealand Braces For El Tri as Hex Winds Down

The unbridled passion on display in Panama and across Mexico spilled out across the entire continent yesterday, proving once again that the beautiful game is not a matter of life and death—it's bigger than that.
BY John Godfrey Posted
October 17, 2013
8:00 AM
  • It's not every day that the Christian Science Monitor covers the United States-Mexico soccer rivalry, but it did on Tuesday—a sure sign that the extreme drama that unfolded on the last day of the Hexagonal was truly something special.

    Here's an excerpt: "The irony of Uncle Sam’s squad saving Mexico from missing the World Cup wasn’t lost on many Mexicans, some of who said their team didn’t even deserve to advance and had hoped staying on the sidelines next year would bring about changes in the sport and its national governing body. A deep distrust of the United States—dating back to the Mexican-American War, when Mexico lost half its territory—could previously rally the country in ways only matched by perhaps the soccer squad and the national patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe."

  • New Zealand, as you might expect, is buzzing about its home-and-away series with El Tri. The two have played before, in Pasadadena, Calif. in 2010. Mexico won that match, 2-0, in front of 94,000-plus raucous fans.

  • American Soccer Now had reporters present at the first nine games of the Hex, but for a variety of reasons—including the fact that the U.S. had already clinched the regional qualifying tournament—we did not have anybody on the ground in Panama City. Don't get used to it. We pride ourselves on being at the matches, friendlies or full internationals, whenever possible.

    Scotland? Check. Austria? Yep? Brazil next summer? Absolutely.

    And even though we didn't procure the quotes ourselves, we still want you to hear what Jurgen Klinsmann and the players had to say after the contest.

    “We all felt every little piece of it," Klinsmann said in response to a question about the emotions running through Estadio Rommel Fernandez. "It shows you how brutal football can be for one side that is almost there, and then the other side is back in. But, at the end of the day I mentioned it before, we were here to give everything we have. We said that we are here to win and get three points."

    "Obviously, nobody expected we were going to turn things around in the last one minute, but you have to play it all the way to the end and we did that. Our players gave everything they had, kept pushing and were rewarded. Obviously, you feel for the people, you feel for the entire country, you feel for [Panama head coach] Dely Valdez, who I admire a lot, but this is football, it’s not over until it’s over.”

    Here is a transcript of some key post-game comments, courtesy of U.S. Soccer.

  • Will the U.S.'s dominating performance in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualification translate to a deep run in Brazil? There is little consensus here, and we encourage you to add your voice to the mix.

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