Who is the Azteca a Problem for Again?
Posted on February 10, 2013 18:37
After a long week spent on TV trucks all over Texas, I finally had a chance to watch Mexico’s scoreless draw at the Azteca vs Jamaica. After watching, I only had one question:
How did Jamaica let that one get away?
Lost in the storylines that Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre had his worst game as a coach, the Mexican players’ less than stellar performances, The captain flipping off the fans, and a half-empty Estadio Azteca that didn’t intimidate the Reggae Boyz at all, was the fact that Jamaica’s strikers had an even worse night. They surprised Mexico and should have punished Mexico for their arrogance, but they let them off the hook on more than one occasion.
In the lead up to the match, Chepo talked about how difficult qualifying was going to be, which it will be. The way Mexico played, though, one may have thought that the game was played in Kingston, not Santa Ursula. Jamaica became the first Caribbean team to ever earn a deserved point at the Azteca.
Ah, yes. The fabled Estadio Azteca. We have said for years that it represents the best home field advantage on the planet. When all of the intangibles are in place: the sun, the crowd, the altitude and the smog, it is an extremely difficult place to play. After a 1-0 win over Honduras in 2009, Ricardo Osorio was asked why Honduras played such a defensive match. “The Azteca weighs teams down.” He responded.
lately, the team that has been weighed down by the Colossus has been Mexico. The worst performances in the Chepo era have played out in Mexico’s citadel. The players were much looser in the semi final round in games that were outside of the Azteca. Their tightness was palpable against Jamaica. The team did not take chances that a home side would normally take with impunity. The once impregnable stadium became as intimidating as the field down the street from my neighborhood behind the Giddy Ups (with outdoor pool tables!). And when the fans sensed Mexico’s nervousness, they turned on them: whistles, boos, sarcastic olés. It didn’t help that Chepo took out the only players that had any success in trying to decipher Jamaica’s Gordian knot.
With 9 games to go, this thing is far from over, obviously. Fans should hope that de la Torre has learned his lessons and will take the governor off, especially at home. Fans should hope that the FMF has learned its lesson as well in that a full stadium should trump gate receipts.
And the rest of Concacaf should take notice of two things: points in Mexico or on the table, and the Reggae Boys are going to be a very, very tough out.