MILAN, Italy – The US men's national team has not played a friendly in Mexico in almost 30 years, but the team's fiercest rival is ready to play host to them in an exhibition match that will likely be anything but friendly.
The Mexican Soccer Federation officially announced the long-rumored friendly between the United States and Mexico, which will be played on August 15th at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had publicly mentioned the friendly for more than a month as being a done deal and now the plans are in place to have the rivals face off at Estadio Azteca for the first time since Mexico beat the Americans there in World Cup qualifying in 2009.
Though it will be the first friendly played in Mexico between the two teams in 28 years, the match will still have bragging rights on the line, especially considering both teams are expected to field full-strength squads.
"In all the games I've played against Mexico, and I've played them in different arenas, different venues, different tournaments, and it's always been important," US national team goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "If we can beat them down there it would mean a lot to us. Sure, if we beat them down there they might dismiss it and say it's a friendly, but it will still mean a lot to us.
"Yes, we want to beat them in qualifying, and they want to beat us in qualifying, but this is still going to be a heck of a game," Howard said. "It's going to be tough, it's going to be big. It'll be sold out. They'll bring their big guns, we'll bring our big guns, and we'll get it on."
The United States has never won a match on Mexican soil, going 0-23-1 in 24 previous visits south of the border. They are 0-19-1 in 20 previous visits to Mexico City, with a scoreless World Cup qualifying draw in 1997 being the only time the Americans have taken a point on the road in Mexico.
The teams last met in August of 2011, when they finished a 1-1 draw in Philadelphia. That match did not feature both teams at full strength though. The last time both teams had close to full-strength teams was in the 2011 Gold Cup Final, which Mexico won 4-2 at the Rose Bowl.
The match will serve as a stiff test for the USA before they return to World Cup qualifying action in September with a pair of matches against Jamaica.