Five Things to Know: Mexico

Mexico: A Power in CONCACAF
Soccer is at the core of Mexico’s sporting culture and as such, the nation has a long history of success in the game. The most dominant nation in CONCACAF for a long stretch, Mexico has 10 confederation championships to go along with its regional-record 15 World Cup appearances.

A Brief History Against the USA
With a 33-18-14 edge, Mexico leads the all-time series against the United States, thanks in large part to a 43-year spell where El Tri ran up a 24-match unbeaten streak against the Americans.

While Mexico still held the advantage towards the end of the century, the U.S. began to develop its own soccer identity, causing a shift in the series. Since 2000, the USA has dominated the rivalry, going 13-6-5 against Mexico.

Five results in that time have served as the main moments USA fans rally around: the four “Dos a Cero” World Cup Qualifying wins against Mexico in Columbus (2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013) and of course, the pinnacle 2-0 victory against El Tri during the Round of 16 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Learn more about the long soccer history between the USA and Mexico.

Managed by the Professor: Juan Carlos Osorio
Replacing the ever-animated Miguel Herrera was no easy task, but in naming Juan Carlos Osorio around this time last year, the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación (FMF) tapped a man that has a lot of familiarity with the U.S.

A former head coach of the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls, the Colombian manager led the latter to the 2008 M.L.S. Cup Final where they fell 3-1 to Columbus Crew SC. Osorio also knows a number of U.S. players well, specifically forward Jozy Altidore, who he coached in New York. Additionally, he was also on the MetroStars coaching staff when a much younger Tim Howard debuted for the club in 1998.

Obsessed with compiling information and notes on his players, Osorio’s management style is often described as quirky, but his resume is strong. Along with his history as a manager in M.L.S., the 55-year-old has experienced success in his native Colombia, where he’s won a number of league titles with Atlético Nacional and Once Caldas.

Mexico Under Osorio
There are few jobs in international soccer that are as pressure-filled as head coach of Mexico, but Osorio’s record with El Tri has been quite strong. Since taking over last October, Osorio has led the side to an impressive 12-1-2 record, but the lone blemish was an embarrassing 7-0 defeat to Chile in the Copa America Centenario Quarterfinals this past summer.

Despite breezing through the Semifinal Round of World Cup Qualifying, that loss still weighs heavily on Osorio and the team with the Mexican public, making Friday’s qualifier all the more intense for both he and the players.

Mexico’s Got Talent
Even in matches they’ve lost to the United States, Mexico’s roster has never lacked talent. The squad that Osorio has brought to Columbus is no different.

Bayer Leverkusen forward Javier Hernandez leads a lethal attacking force that also features Andres Guardado (PSV Eindhoven), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad) and Oribe Peralta (Club America), among others. The team is captained by Rafa Marquez, who continues as one of the biggest villains of the USA-Mexico rivalry. Even at age 37, the Club Atlas defender remains a mainstay in the squad, while drawing the ire of many U.S. fans for some brutal fouls and red cards he’s dished out over the years.