1. The U.S. men’s national team can clinch a World Cup spot with a victory.
If the United States can pull off the victory against Mexico Tuesday night, then they can almost guarantee themselves a bid for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. In addition to a US victory, the men’s national team needs Honduras to either win or tie Panama at home tonight in order to secure a spot in the World Cup field.
2. Mexico is our bitter rival.
It’s no secret that the U.S. and Mexico don’t get along on the soccer pitch. Each game between the two countries is hotly contested and frequently leads to clashing on the field and in the stands. The U.S. team also has five players on their current roster that play for Mexican club teams, which has led to more dissension than kinship. As Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated put it, “The U.S.-Mexico rivalry has turned into the best international sports rivalry in North America, drawing huge TV audiences and unleashing passions on both sides of the border.”
3. Mexico is desperate for a win.
Mexico is currently in a precarious situation if they want to qualify for next summer’s World Cup. They’re currently in fourth place in the CONCACAF standings with just three games remaining. Only the top three teams in the group automatically advance to the World Cup, while the fourth team plays in a two match playoff for one last chance to qualify. If Mexico were to miss the World Cup, the ratings in North America for ESPN and Univision would seriously suffer next summer.
4. It’ll be interesting to see how the team performs without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.
Midfielder Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore have been two of the United States’ most important and effective players during the team’s recent 12-match unbeaten streak. Bradley has recently asserted himself as the most important player on the U.S. roster while Altidore has finally become the scorer everyone thought he’d be. Bradley will sit out tonight’s game with a sprained ankle and Altidore is serving a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.
5. The crowd is going to be insane in Columbus.
Columbus’ stadium may only hold around 25,000 — just a quarter of the size of Mexico’s Azteca Stadium — but the U.S. crowd has proven to be incredibly rowdy during recent World Cup qualifiers and it should be no different tonight. More than 9,000 tickets were also allotted to the supporters’ club sections, which is twice as many as any game previously for the men’s national team. The U.S. team has outscored opponents 13-1 while posting an incredible 6-0-3 record in Columbus — which includes three-straight World Cup qualifying victories over Mexico, all by the score 2-0.
6. It’s going to be physical regardless of how the referees call the game.
It may be hard to believe, but Matt Besler was given a yellow card for this phantom penalty in the U.S.’ recent 3-1 loss against Costa Rica. He’ll be watching the game from the bench tonight because of yellow card accumulation. It’ll be interesting to see how the referees control the game tonight considering it will most definitely have its heated moments. Watch out for Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard who are both playing tonight with yellow cards.
7. I mean, what else are you watching at 8 p.m.?
Okay, unless you’re a Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds or St. Louis Cardinals fan there really isn’t anything to watch tonight, so grab a beer and cheer on the Stars and Stripes — if only to impress your friends by knowing players’ names for next summer.