Nationalism will certainly run deep when Mexico hosts the United States in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday night, but the home team’s head coach wants to make sure fans know where to draw the line.
“I ask the fans to respect the national anthem of the away team,” Mexico coach José Manuel de la Torre said Monday (via MLSsoccer.com). “It feels very bad to be in an away stadium in another country and not even hear the anthem, so if there is something I can ask, it is to respect the national anthem of the visitors.”
“El Tri” have been ridiculously efficient at the Estadio Azteca, holding a home record of 37-1-3 in World Cup qualifiers. The team has shown signs of vulnerability on their home field of late, however, dropping a 1-0 friendly to the U.S. in August — its first win ever at Azteca — and playing Jamaica to a 0-0 tie in the opening game of qualifiers last month.
But the arena, with its capacity crowd of 105,000 and location in smog-ridden Mexico City, still creates one of the greatest home-field advantages in sports — one much different than the winter wonderland that played host to the United States’ controversial win over Costa Rica on Friday.
“The [difficulty] of playing at the Azteca is that it’s hot, the factories have been on all week and the smog just sits on top of you,” former U.S. national team member Marcelo Balboa told ESPNFC.com. “They’re used it, you’re not. Now you’re taking a lot of that out of the equation. You’re playing at night, you’re eliminating the heat, you’re eliminating a lot of the smog. It’s still going to be there, but you’re [reducing] a lot of the factors that make Mexico, Mexico.”
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