Juan Carlos Osorio believes Mexico’s first FIFA World Cup™ qualifying win in the USA in 44 years was the catalyst for the latter’s 4-0 defeat in Costa Rica and the sacking of Jurgen Klinsmann.
The Stars and Stripes were unbeaten in 32 preliminaries – they had won 30 of them – until El Tri cracked their Columbus curse with a 2-1 victory on 12 November. A disheartened USA got thrashed in San Jose four days later, which led to Klinsmann’s five-year reign being ended this week and the hiring of former national team coach Bruce Arena.
"The only thing I think is that their play or ours was so important as to generate an initial message about what their qualifying could be like,” said Osorio. “The emotional hit was very strong, and was shown in the hefty scoreline in Costa Rica."
After two matchdays of the hexagonal stage of Russia 2018 qualifying, Mexico sit second, above Panama on goal difference and two points behind Costa Rica. The reigning and record ten-time CONCACAF Gold Cup winners resume their campaign in March, when they are at home to Costa Rica and away to Trinidad and Tobago. The Mexicans are, nonetheless, keeping one eye on their showdown with USA in June – and, more specifically, where they will stage it.
"Mexico historically had an advantage playing in the Azteca, but you have to remember that the majority of our players played in the Mexican league," explained Osorio. "Now that supposed advantage isn't so , the players want to consider other possibilities."
Only Brazil (20), Germany (18), Italy (18) and Argentina (16) have appeared in more World Cups than Mexico (15), who have fell at the Round of 16 in six successive editions of the tournament.