This is always a very long week for me. The Eyes of Texas are upon us yet again, for it’s game week. The first game is always the toughest to work because I have to reassemble everything about our broadcast, the segments, the “business”, the equipment. Over the next 3 months, I will get to go to Laramie, Dallas, Columbia, Stillwater, Waco and College Station. The Longhorns have been great about reaching the Spanish-speaking audience in and around Texas, so we enter our 16th year of broadcasting Longhorn Football en español and my 6th year as producer.
But this week, it’s going to be a little hard to concentrate on the action at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium because Mexico has that crucial qualifier in Costa Rica. My press pass says there is no cheering allowed in the press box. Does that include cheering for an entirely different sport? Luckily, the qualifier starts around 9 pm local, which should be some time in the 4th quarter. We’ll get to watch the majority of the game when we go off the air.
Mexico hasn’t lost in Costa Rica in quite a while. They have gotten two ties and a win since CONCACAF went to the Hex in 1997. But Mexico hasn’t gotten any results away from home in quite a while. Some might say that we would have a better chance of finding the elusive chupacabra before Mexico would earn that elusive result on the road. And they might be right. Costa Rica is not a place for a desperate team to get a desperate result. The Ticos are so primed for the match, they sold tickets for the some of the same seats twice.
The teams that play, though, might be going in opposite directions. Mexico is gaining confidence after defeating both Costa Rica and the US (twice) in their last three official matches. Costa Rica was crushed in Honduras last month. They lost their goalkeeper to injury, and the mood in Ticolandia has shifted from confident to very nervous. A loss would knock them down to 4th place in the hex with only one realistic chance to get a full three points left on the schedule.
It’s one thing to play these games when the pressure isn’t as stifling. But as the pucker factor increases, and the mouth gets drier, how will the Ticos respond? How will Honduras respond in their must get a result next month vs. the US? What if the US doesn’t get the expected 6 points in the next two games? None of these teams has yet to face that high pressure game. It’s one of the reasons why I believe Mexico has a slight advantage going into these last four games. They’ve been playing uphill all summer and are starting to find themselves. They have handled the pressure surprisingly well.
Oh, and it looks like someone may have found the chupacabra.