There are few things certain in the soccer world. One of them happens to be that the United States does not win in Mexico. That this has persisted despite the fact that the two teams have actually been reasonably competitive over the past decade or so, is a bit strange, if not wholly unsurprising. Chances are, that streak will continue with Wednesday's friendly at Estadio Azteca.
Mexico is undeniably the best team in CONCACAF and, coming off their Olympic gold medal, appear to be one of the rising powers in the world. The United States is none of those things. Their defense is a bit of shambles, most of their best players won't be playing in this match and Jurgen Klinsmann has so far failed to put any kind of stamp on this team.
Putting that all aside, though, a U.S. win is not entirely unfathomable. This is a friendly, after all, and stranger things have happened. What would it mean if the United States actually broke the Azteca curse?
Surely, there would be people both here and abroad who would discount the game entirely based on the fact that it was not a competitive match. That will be ignoring the reality that pride is always on the line when these teams meet, and that goes doubly for the Mexicans when the are the hosts.
If the U.S. were to win this match, it would not be one of the most important accomplishments in our soccer history, but it would be big. At the very least, it would mean that any mention of the United States' 24-match winless streak would at least need qualifiers. It would also knock that winless streak down to a far-less imposing figure of 16 matches, as eight of Mexico's previous wins on home soil were in friendlies.
It could also be seen as a growing trend at Azteca. Ever since the United States first claimed a point there -- a 0-0 tie during a 1998 World Cup qualifier -- Mexico has not been very dominant at their national stadium. In 1999, they needed extra time to win in the Confederations Cup and they won by just one goal in each of their next three meetings, with the U.S. actually taking their first ever lead there in the 2010 World Cup qualifier.
A win on Wednesday would not mean the U.S. has closed the talent gap that undeniably exists. It would not mean that the U.S. is poised to overtake Mexico as the overlords of CONCACAF. It would not mean that Mexican fans would be suddenly quaking in their boots. But it would be a rallying cry for the Americans, a team who badly needs something just like that.
If the United States loses? Well, go ahead and disregard all of this.