The Estadio Azteca is a glorious place. No other stadium in this hemisphere comes close to boasting either its history or its intimidation. No stadium has hosted more World Cup games, and no other stadium on the planet has the home-field advantage that the Coloso de Santa Ursula can offer. As long as you take advantage. Mexico did just that for the first 20 minutes of their match vs. Honduras. They got the goal the needed, it was just a matter of time before they went in for the kill, just like they had countless times before.
Before the match, Honduras would have been thrilled to leave the Azteca with 1-0 loss. And as long as Mexico kept the pressure up, Honduras was going to try like hell to absorb it.
And then Mexico ratcheted down the pressure, Honduras said, thank you very much, and rewarded Mexico’s generosity by handing them only their second world cup qualifying loss ever at the Azteca by scoring twice in a span of three minutes. 2-1. Mexico was never going to come back from that.
And now Mexico’s chances for a trip to Brazil next summer will more than likely have to go through New Zealand, and even that is at best a 50/50 proposition.
The Estadio Azteca used to be an automatic 15 points. Automatic. Not with Chepo de la Torre. His stubborn defensive style has no chance at all in taking advantage of what the Azteca has to offer. The Azteca is all about pressure: pressure from the players, pressure from the smog, pressure from the smog, pressure from the altitude, pressure from the history. Chepo’s style of play negates all that and puts the pressure squarely on his players.
And anyone who has been reading what I have written over the past 5 years knows that if there is one thing Mexico can’t handle, it’s pressure.
Don’t believe me? Mexico has more points in 3 matches away from home than 4 at the Azteca. Will Chepo be around for the 4th game this week in Columbus? Doubtful. The revenue report that the Televisa bean counters are working up will probably have nine figures in parentheses. It probably matters that the team has digressed exponentially under Chepo too.
I would be remiss, though, to continue without mentioning how well Honduras played in the second half. When it became clear to them that Mexico had lost all desire to ice the game, they took control. They finally, FINALLY played up to their vast potential. Felicidades, Catrachos.
And for Mexico fans, hope Flaco Tena is manning the box at Columbus stadium.
And Jamaica did Mexico a solid tonight by holding Panama to 1 point. The New Zealand dream lives! Just hope they don't schedule the home leg at the Azteca.