On the morning after a monumental 2-0 victory for the U.S. National Team over Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match at Crew Stadium in Columbus, the talk around the soccer world was of the changing landscape of the sport in the CONCACAF region.
While the U.S. and Costa Rica qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil after Tuesday’s results, Mexico was left in a precarious position in fifth place in the Hexagonal Round with just two matches remaining.
“The power at the moment has definitely shifted in the U.S. direction, as far as the national teams are concerned,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said.
For a Mexico team that came into the 2013 year with high expectations, it has been a particularly difficult year. Entering the year, El Tri had won the previous two CONCACAF Gold Cup titles and took gold in the 2012 Olympic games. However, a 1-2-0, sixth-place finish in the Confederations Cup in the summer, semifinal ousting in the COCNACAF Gold Cup and a 1-2-5 record in World Cup qualifying has Mexico seeking answers while Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. are seeking accommodations in Brazil next summer.
Meanwhile, U.S. National Teamers Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey returned to Seattle on Wednesday and will train with Sounders FC on Thursday ahead of their clash with Real Salt Lake on Friday night at CenturyLink Field.
Johnson scored the winner in the 2-0 victory in the 49th minute and was subbed out in the 75th minute while Dempsey played the full 90 minutes and was credited with the assist on Landon Donovan’s goal in the 78th minute.
Schmid was confident that he would have those two stars available next month when the U.S. has their next set of qualifying matches against Jamaica at Sporting Park in Kansas City on October 11 and in Panama on October 15.
“There’s an MLS season going on and people competing for playoff spots,” Schmid said. “Jurgen will understand that and take that into consideration.”
Along with Dempsey and Johnson, midfielder Brad Evans is also a candidate for playing time with the U.S. in those October matches. He was called in to the squad for the matches against Costa Rica and Mexico, but was held out with a calf strain. His availability is day-to-day.
“If he can play Friday, we could certainly use him and we’d love to have him out there, but we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the next game by trying to push him out too early on Friday. So we’re trying to balance those two,” Schmid said.
Kickoff for Friday’s nationally televised match on NBC Sports Network is scheduled for 7pm PT, with tickets available at SoundersFC.com/tickets.