Landon Donovan remembers the chants of "Osama! Osama! " last year, when the U.S. Olympic team played in Guadalajara.
MEXICO CITY — Landon Donovan remembers the chants of “Osama! Osama!” last year, when the U.S. Olympic team played in Guadalajara.
“It was a little, I guess, humiliating, a little degrading,” he said yesterday. “At one point you’re surprised and at one point you kind of come to expect it. It’s sad, but that’s the way it is.”
The U.S. team is braced for a hostile reception when it faces Mexico for the 50th time, a World Cup qualifier today before more than 100,000 fans in noisy Estadio Azteca.
In Mexico, the United States is 0-21-1 and has been outscored 78-13. But overall the U.S. team is 6-1-1 in its last eight games against its southern neighbor, getting 11 goals and giving up one. That streak includes a 2-0 victory in the second round of the 2002 World Cup, a match played in South Korea.
“For such a long time, they dominated us. I think over not only the last five, six years, over the last 10 years it’s been pretty equal,” U.S. captain Claudio Reyna said before yesterday’s practice. “I think it’s a bit insulting to them because soccer is the one and only sport in this country.”
Long the lone power in the North and Central American and Caribbean region, Mexico doesn’t enjoy sharing the spotlight. The United States enters with a 16-game unbeaten streak overall and a 31-game run without a loss against regional rivals.
U.S. men @ Mexico, 10 a.m., ESPN2
Sixth-ranked Mexico remains the favorite, especially at the 7,200-foot altitude and in the smog of Mexico City. The Tricolores are expected by their fans to defeat the Americans, tied for 10th in the world ranking. The Mexicans beat almost everyone at home, where they are 53-1-4 in World Cup qualifiers, the lone blemish a 2-1 loss to Costa Rica in June 2001.
Mexico began the final round with a 2-1 victory in Costa Rica, its first win there in a qualifier since 1968, and the United States began with a 2-1 victory in Trinidad and Tobago.
The U.S. team plays Guatemala in a qualifier Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala.
Guatemala beat visiting Trinidad and Tobago 5-1 yesterday. Host Costa Rica beat Panama 2-1.
• There were 30 World Cup qualifying matches.
England scored all of its goals in a 15-minute span to beat Northern Ireland 4-0, Italy held off Scotland for a 2-0 victory and Argentina rallied to win 2-1 at Bolivia.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands won 2-0 at Romania, Freddie Ljungberg scored twice as Sweden won 3-0 at Bulgaria, Ireland played a 1-1 tie at Israel and Switzerland gained a 0-0 tie at France. The Czech Republic came back to beat Finland 4-3 and European champion Greece defeated Georgia 3-1.