Life is never dull for fans of Mexico’s national soccer team, an extraordinarily popular squad — both in its own country as well as the United States — that will take the pitch Tuesday night in front of an expected full house at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
And the same can be said for El Tri’s opponent, Argentina, a talented but much-maligned squad accused by its own fans of underachieving despite being led by arguably the most skilled player in the world, Lionel Messi.
But such storylines are just the way it goes in the soap-opera like existence of futbol in the two countries. Warts and all, for sports fans who want to get a glimpse at some of the most talented athletes on Earth, it doesn’t get much better than a Mexico-versus-Argentina match.
The game is expected to be a sellout at the stadium, which is normally home to the Dallas Cowboys and typically seats more than 80,000 in its soccer configuration. Organizers late last week announced they also would also sell a “limited number of” (read: several thousand) standing room-only “Party Passes” for $30, for those willing to watch the game in the numerous end zone decks.
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The winner of the Oct. 9 U.S.-Mexico match will qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
It’s an international friendly, which means the final score doesn’t necessarily count for World Cup qualification. But both teams are eager to tune up for some really important upcoming gigs, including Mexico’s Oct. 10 showdown with the United States men’s national team in Pasadena, Calif.
Here are some reasons why this match promises to sizzle:
Mexico should have basked in glory all summer, after winning the prestigious CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. It was Mexico’s record seventh win in the tournament, which every two years pits the best teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Instead of relishing the moment, just two days after the finale in Philadelphia, Mexico’s governing body fired manager Miguel Herrera after he reportedly got into a scrum with a journalist at an airport security checkpoint.
Interim coach Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti is now tasked with quickly getting his squad ready for the Oct. 10 match against the U.S., and Tuesday’s friendly against Argentina seems to be a perfect place for that hard work. On Friday, Mexico failed to dazzle in a 3-3 draw against Trinidad & Tobago in a friendly match at Salt Lake City, making it clear that over the next few weeks Ferretti has his work cut out.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but the winner of the Oct. 10 U.S.-Mexico match will qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. That tournament is considered prestigious because it gives teams a preview of the facilities that will be used in the 2018 World Cup.
For Tuesday’s match between Mexico and Argentina, Mexico arrives in Arlington with some, but not all, of its arsenal.
Midfielder/striker Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, who just signed with Portugese club Porto, won’t be able to travel to the U.S. for the game because of an immigration issue, according to the Mexican Football Federation.
But famed striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is on the roster, having made the trip from his new club home at Germany’s Bayern Leverkusen.
Hernandez, who sports the name “Chicharito” (Spanish for “little green pea”) on the back of his jersey, didn’t play in Friday’s match, but should be ready to take the pitch Tuesday.
Argentina is perpetually a global power, but the country’s soccer club is looking to bounce back from a series of recent disappointments. In 2014, Argentina lost to Germany in the World Cup final.
This this past summer, Argentina lost to Chile in the prestigious Copa America tournament final. That most recent disappointment was played in Chile, and after the match many futbol observers thought famed striker Lionel Messi would skip the friendly matches in the U.S., and rest for his usual busy season playing for FC Barcelona in Spain.
But Messi is on the 24-player travel roster recently released by the Argentine Football Association, and on Friday came on as a substitute in a friendly game against Bolivia played in Houston. In about a minute, Messi scored the first of his two goals in the match, and Argentina crushed Bolivia 7-0.
Other world-class players expected to suit up for Argentina include defender Pablo Zabaleta, who normally suits up for Manchester City of the English Premier League, and midfielder Javier Pastore of France’s Paris Saint-Germain club. Also, Messi can expect to play alongside two other stars at forward, Sergio Aguero of Manchester City, and Carlos Tévez of Argentina’s famous professional club, Boca Juniors.
Mexico vs. Argentina
9:30 p.m. Tuesday, AT&T Stadium, Arlington
▪ Fans planning to attend are encouraged to arrive in Arlington as early as possible. An interactive fan zone known as AT&T Fútbol Fiesta will open four hours before kickoff outside the stadium. The fan zone will feature live entertainment, sponsor exhibits, celebrities and interactive games.
▪ For exclusive content, fans may visit La Ola Verde online to view a digital game program.
Source: Soccer United Marketing