MEXICO CITY, Mexico - Before the World Cup qualifier, 0-0 tie on March 26 at Estadio Azteca, former national soccer team player Alexi Lalas called the rivalry between USA and Mexico one of the best in the world. After the United States avoided a loss on Tuesday night, the opinion of Lalas has -not- changed.
Over the last two decades, the Red, White and Blue has proven it can compete with the "Tri-color". Still, victories are very rare for any team, including the United States, at Estadio Azteca. Team USA is still winless on Mexican soil in World Cup qualifiers: 0-13-2.
KVIA ABC-7 Sports Director Paul Cicala travelled to Mexico City to see first-hand how intense the rivalry is.
"There are never truly friendly games between us," Team Mexico Forward Jesus Zavala told KVIA.
In August of 2012, Team USA won for the first time ever at Estadio Azteca. It was just a "friendly", but still players rejoiced afterward for Uncles Sam's Army.
"It's something I've thought about for a long long time," USA Goalie Tim Howard told KVIA-TV, "We've never done it. And, you know, in your career, you might only get one, two, three opportunities. So, the odds are against you, and I've thought long and hard that, if I could be part of the team that won, it'd go down in history."
Team USA forward Hercules Gomez says, "It's a special moment, not just soccer. But, on a personal level. It's a life moment for me, and I'm excited to be part of it."
Jorge Morales Velez, a fan from Toluca who made the trip to Estadio Azteca, says "It's a rivalry like no other. Mexico has a lot of respect for our neighbors to the north, despite what some may think."
Team Mexico forward Pablo Barrera told KVIA, "The rivalry has always existed between us, and it only makes each team better."
Estadio Azteca is an intimidating place to play for the players, and the fans. For their own protection, it's not uncommon for the opposing team's supporters at Estadio Azteca to be surrounded by police officers. However, that didn't stop Carly Arcos to make the trip from Ohio to Mexico City to see the big game. "We're little, but we're here to show support for our country," says Arcos.
In the end, die-hards of Team USA were rewarded with a 1-0 victory against Mexico in August, and now, escaping with a 0-0 tie at Estadio Azteca on March 26th.