Mexico are flying high after an emphatic 3-0 win over Canada in Vancouver last week, and they face those same beleaguered Canadians again just days later with a chance to clinch a spot in the final Hex round of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF. Mexico are perfect so far in this group round of qualifying, and another win against Canada would see that perfection rewarded.
Right now, Mexico stand on nine points halfway through the group stage, and another win would put them on 12 with two matches to go. If El Salvador manage to beat Honduras away from home, they'd be the closest team to them with five points -- seven back and with no chance of catching El Tri. Even a draw could potentially clinch a spot in the Hex for Mexico -- at 10 points, a draw between El Salvador and Honduras would leave neither able to catch up. That Mexico are so close to clinching already should be little surprise. They've been utterly dominant and their sights are set much higher than this qualifying round.
Key Mexico player -- Andres Guardado
The second-most capped player on the Mexico side, El Tri will be calling on Guardado's experience, leadership and sheer quality in midfield to get the result they so seriously desire. He can run Canada's midfield ragged and create opportunities for Mexico's attackers by the bucketful. If he plays as well as he's capable of, the Canadians are in a ton of trouble. If Mexico wrap up their Hex qualification this early, it's going to be on the back of the incredible level of work that Guardado has put in so far.
Key factor -- Can Canada weather the storm?
Canada tried their best, but even playing in front of a home crowd in Vancouver, they couldn't keep Mexico at bay for a full half, giving up two first-half goals to Mexico. They need to do better than that if they're going to have any hope of holding Mexico down in this match -- but right now, there's not a lot of reason to think that they will. Going into arguably the most hostile atmosphere in CONCACAF when their confidence is already low after that battering last week is going to be a difficult challenge for Canada. To be honest it's hard to see them coming out of this with a positive result because of it.
Match Date/Time: Day, 10:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. local
Venue: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
TV: Fox Sports 1 (U.S. - English), UniMas (U.S. - Spanish), TDN, Azteca 7, Canal 5 Televisa (Mexico), TSN2 (Canada)
Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go, UniMas Deportes, fuboTV (U.S.)