World Cup qualifying odds: New Zealand at Mexico
Mexico has the United States to thank for having a chance of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup as El Tri begins a home-and-home playoff against visiting New Zealand on Wednesday with Mexico as a big -520 WagerWeb favorite. The Kiwis are +1500 and a draw at +580.
Mexico last missed the World Cup in 1990 but would have if not for a gift from the Americans just to reach this stage. The U.S. scored two late goals to defeat Panama, sending the Mexicans to the playoff. Otherwise, Panama would have advanced and Mexico would have been out. Mexico played poorly during qualifying, struggling to score and finishing behind the U.S., Costa Rica and Honduras — the three earned the automatic berths from the CONCACAF region.
El Tri has gone to extraordinary measures in hopes of reaching Brazil, bringing in Miguel Herrera to handle the two-game playoff in the latest of a series of coaching changes. Herrera, the coach of the Mexican club America, has overlooked the country’s Europe-based players, like Manchester United’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, one of the best players in the world, and is going with players from Mexico’s domestic league. Ten of the 23 players called up by Herrera play for Club América, who Herrera guided to the 2013 Clausura title in the Liga MX and left comfortably in first place before taking over Mexico.
Herrera also stuck to his usual approach of naming which players will start the day before the game, confirming that Moises Munoz gets the nod in goal. The Mexico team, playing a 5-3-2 formation, will be: Munoz, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Rafa Marquez, Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, Miguel Layun, Paul Aguilar, Medina, Luis Montes, Carlos Pena, Oribe Peralta and Raul Jimenez.
The All Whites topped their World Cup qualification group in Oceania with six wins from as many games, to earn the two-leg date with the fourth-placed nation in CONCACAF qualifying. However, their upcoming battle on Wednesday stands in stark contrast to their most recent qualifying clash – a 2-0 win over the Solomon Islands in front of 5,600 people in Honiara. The Estadio Azteca in Mexico City has a capacity of 105,000, is perched 7,200 feet above sea level and will be packed full of locals doing their utmost to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the visiting Kiwis. All Whites captain Winston Reid will miss the clash due to an ankle injury sustained while training for Premier League club West Ham.
Further disadvantaging Ricki Herbert’s side is that Mexico have lost just one qualifying match at the venue in their history – a 2-1 defeat to Costa Rica in 2001 – making New Zealand’s chances of taking a lead to the second leg in Wellington the following week all the more difficult. That said, Mexico has just one win and three goals in its past four home matches.
“Arguably in my tenure and as a player, this would be the most difficult qualification game that New Zealand’s ever had. So yep, there needs to be improvement,” Herbert said.
A draw would be a terrific result ahead of the return fixture at Westpac Stadium, as New Zealand aims to reach consecutive World Cups for the first time. New Zealand had three draws in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup — the only side in the tournament not to lose a match — and this team is considered better.
World Cup qualifying soccer odds: Mexico at United States
It’s the greatest soccer rivalry in North America on Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio, and it’s a must-win World Cup qualifying match for a desperate Mexico side, but the United States opened as a +150 WagerWeb favorite to take one more big step toward Brazil in 2014. Mexico is +205 and a draw at +220.
The Mexicans were humbled 2-1 at home by Honduras on Friday night and José Manuel de la Torre was fired as manager of Mexico’s national team hours after the loss. The loss by Mexico at Azteca was only the second in 77 World Cup home qualifying games. With three matches left in qualifying, Mexico is fourth among six nations, 1 point ahead of Panama and 6 behind first-place Costa Rica, which defeated the United States, 3-1, on Friday.
The new manager is Luis Fernando Teña. He has been around for a while and is the mastermind of the greatest sports triumph of Mexican national teams: the winning of the Olympic gold medal in 2012. De la Torre, who is known as Chepo, took over Mexico’s national team in 2011 and led the team to the Gold Cup title that year.
The United States saw its record unbeaten streak end by Costa Rica. Jhonny Acosta and Celso Borges scored as Costa Rica burst ahead in the first nine minutes, Joel Campbell added a goal on a late counterattack, and the Ticos beat the visiting United States. Avenging a March loss to the U.S. in a Colorado snow storm, Costa Rica ended the Americans’ team-record 12-game winning streak — three short of the world mark set by Spain.
Clint Dempsey, making his 100th international appearance, converted a penalty kick in the 43rd minute for the U.S. and nearly tied it with a 20-yard shot off a post in the 56th minute. The Ticos (4-1-2) moved into first place in the final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean with 14 points, one ahead of the U.S. (4-2-1) with three games remaining.
United States midfielder Michael Bradley has been ruled out for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico. The U.S. will also be without striker Jozy Altidore and defenders Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler, who are suspended after picking up yellow cards against Costa Rica.
The past three home World Cup qualifiers against Mexico have been held in Columbus, where the United States has posted three consecutive 2-0 victories. The United States has never lost in nine games at Columbus Crew Stadium (6-0-3). The U.S. is undefeated (4-0-2) in six straight home qualifiers against Mexico, last losing in 1972. Overall, the USA is 16-32-13 all-time in international competition against Mexico and 5-15-6 in World Cup Qualifying. The USA’s 61 previous meetings against Mexico are the most against any country in U.S. Soccer’s history. Since 2000, the USA has posted an 11-5-4 record against Mexico, including a 9-2-3 record at home during that span.
World Cup qualifying odds: USA at Mexico
Off a crucial win in a blizzard over Costa Rica, the United States could take a big step toward qualifying for next year’s World Cup by winning where they almost never do: at Mexico, which opened as a -180 favorite on WagerWeb.com for Tuesday’s match. Check our current lines.
Mexico drew their first two matches, at home to Jamaica then away to Honduras, while the Americans lost their opening match in Honduras before battling to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Denver. Clint Dempsey’s first-half goal was his 12th in World Cup qualifying, tying him with career scoring leader Landon Donovan atop the U.S. charts. Meanwhile, Mexico labored to a scoreless draw against Jamaica but then looked back to their best on Friday, at least for 70 minutes. Striker Javier Hernandez scored two superb goals before Honduras replied with two of their own in the last 15 minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw.
The Americans have the added weight of history against them, having never won a World Cup qualifier at the intimidating Azteca Stadium. But In the most recent meeting, the U.S. earned its first victory on Mexican soil, a 1-0 international friendly win on Aug. 15, 2012. Michael Orozco Fiscal scored his first international goal in the 80th minute and goalkeeper Tim Howard made three saves – including two late stops – en route to the historic victory. Howard remains out for now, however, due to injury.
“It won’t be like the friendly we had in August, when it was a half-full stadium,” said veteran DaMarcus Beasley, who plays his club soccer for Liga MX side Puebla. “This game will be 110,000, for sure. It’s our biggest rival; it’s a qualifying match; and they have to get a win. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
In addition, U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones has been ruled out. He sprained his ankle against Costa Rica. Jones did not travel with the team to Mexico. Jones received the injury in the first half, which required two stitches during the interval. He continued play until being subbed out in the 83rd minute.
In the 100-year history of the American program, El Tri has been the Yanks’ most frequent foe, holding a 32-16-12 record all time versus the Americans. The sides have become increasingly competitive over the past dozen years. Since 2000, the Yanks lead the series 11-5-3, and they also eliminated El Tri from the 2002 World Cup. But the pendulum has swung back recently — the U.S. has only one win in the adversaries’ past five meetings.
In a way, the Yanks will be playing with house money in this one. With that 0-12 all-time record in qualifying matches south of the border, it’s no secret that the U.S. is expected to lose. And after Mexico squandered a two-goal lead and had to settle for the tie in Honduras on Friday, suddenly all the stress is on the still-winless hosts.
Jenni Rivera Killed In Plane Crash
Singer Jenni Rivera was killed when the jet she was being shuttled in crashed just outside Monterrey, Mexico early Sunday.
The Mexican-American singer’s father confirmed her death in the fatal crash, along with her publicist, lawyer, makeup artist and two pilots. Pedro Rivera told Telemundo:
“Everyone was lost.”
The Learjet 25 had been due to arrive in Toluca, outside Mexico City, but aviation authorities lost contact with it around 10 minutes after takeoff. The wreckage was later found in Nuevo Leon.
It’s still unclear what caused the powerful crash, but civil aviation chief Alejandro Argudín says the jet was “totally destroyed” and “almost unrecognizable.” A mangled California driver’s licence with Rivera’s name and picture was found among the debris
Jenni, 43 and mother of five and grandmother of two, was a popular judge on Mexico’s version of The Voice and recently signed on for an ABC comedy pilot about the adventures of a middle-class Mexican-American mom.
She sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and just this year won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards — one for Female Artist of the Year and the other for Banda Album of the Year for Joyas Prestadas: Banda.
Mexico Looking To Change Its Name To… Mexico
Mexico’s president is making one last attempt to get the “United States” out of Mexico — at least as far as the country’s name is concerned.
The country’s formal name is “The United Mexican States,” but few people use it.
President Felipe Calderon wants to make it simply “Mexico.”
Calderon says the name was adopted in 1824 to imitate the country’s northern neighbor, The United States of America.
Calderon said Thursday Mexico doesn’t need to emulate anyone.
The constitutional reform would have to be approved by both houses of Congress and a majority of the country’s 31 state legislatures. However, Calderon leaves office on Dec. 1.
Calderon first proposed the name change as a congressman in 2003. The bill did not make it to a vote.
Mexico’s Election Authority Orders Vote Recount
Something’s rotten in Enrique Peña Nieto’s victory… Mexico’s presidential election is looking a lot murkier than it did over the weekend after the country’s election authority ordered 78,012 ballot boxes—54.5% of the total—to be reopened and recounted.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who came in second by a margin of around 7%, according to preliminary results, called for a recount after charging that the vote was plagued by irregularities. Election officials say the recount is “an exercise in openness and transparency.”
Peña Nieto expressed confidence that the recount will keep his victory intact, although he now faces a long legal process before he can be declared president-elect.
On related news, the candidate’s promise to break with the PRI’s dirty past didn’t get a good start after reports that the PRI handed out supermarket debit cards in return for votes. “It was perhaps the biggest operation of vote-buying and coercion in the country’s history,” a former election authority official tells the Washington Post.
22-Year-Old AP Intern Found Dead In Mexico
Armando Montano, a 22-year-old aspiring journalist who was working this summer as a news intern for AP in the Mexican capital, was found dead early Saturday
Montano’s body was found in the elevator shaft of an apartment building near where he was living in the capital’s Condesa neighborhood. The circumstances of his death were being investigated by Mexican authorities.
The Colorado resident arrived in Mexico City in early June after graduating from Grinnell College with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a concentration in Latin American studies.
During his time in the bureau, Montano covered stories including the saga of nine young elephants from Namibia who wound up on an animal reserve in Mexico’s Puebla state, and the shooting of three federal policemen at the Mexico City airport.
“Armando was a smart, joyful, hardworking and talented young man,” said Marjorie Miller, AP’s Latin America editor based in Mexico City.
“He absolutely loved journalism and was soaking up everything he could,” said Miller. “In his short time with the AP, he won his way into everyone’s hearts with his hard work, his effervescence and his love of the profession.”
He is survived by his parents, Diane Alters and Mario Montano, of Colorado Springs, who both teach at Colorado College.
Mexicans Elect PRI Party Back To Power
It looks like Mexicans have really bad short tem memory: The party that ruled their country with an iron grip for most of the last century has sailed back into power, promising a government that will be modern, responsible and open to criticism.
Though Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Enrique Pena Nieto’s margin of victory was clear in the preliminary count from Sunday’s election, it was not the mandate the party had anticipated from pre-election polls that had at times shown the youthful, 45-year-old with support of more than half of Mexico’s voters.
Instead, he won 38 percent support, about 7 points more than his nearest rival, according to a representative count of the ballots, and he went to work immediately to win over the two-thirds who didn’t vote for him, many of whom rejected his claim that he represented a reformed and repentant party.
“We’re a new generation. There is no return to the past,” he said in his victory speech. “It’s time to move on from the country we are to the Mexico we deserve and that we can be … where every Mexican writes his own success story.”
The PRI for 71 years ruled as a single party known for coercion and corruption, but also for building Mexico’s institutions and social services. It was often accused of stealing elections, most infamously the 1988 presidential vote. But PRI governments were also known for keeping a lid on organized crime, whose battles with government and each other under Calderon have taken more than 50,000 lives and traumatized the country.
Repeating a popular belief of many Pena Nieto supporters, Martha Trejo, 37, of Tampico said, “He’ll stabilize the cartels. He’ll negotiate so they don’t hurt innocents.”
Good luck with that lady…