U.S. and Mexico vie for Confederations Cup spot

Fri Oct 9, 2015 1:08pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Much more than just bragging rights and a title will be on the line when the United States and Mexico resume their intense soccer rivalry on Saturday with a CONCACAF Cup playoff match in Pasadena, California.

Also up for grabs will be a coveted spot to represent the CONCACAF region at the 2017 Confederations Cup, an eight-nation event to be held in Russia as a prelude to the 2018 World Cup.

"It can't get any bigger in our region," United States coach Juergen Klinsmann, 51, told reporters while preparing his 23-man squad for the heavily anticipated showdown at the iconic Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

"We know that many Mexican fans will be at the stadium as well. It will rock. It will be a special atmosphere. It will be high intensity from the first second of that game. This is what you're hoping to experience as a coach, as a player, as a fan.

"You want to go into these very unique games and experience it, and really enjoy that moment. It decides who goes to Russia in 2017 and it gives you a CONCACAF title, so it's difficult to beat the importance of this one."

The rivalry between the two regional soccer powers took a long time to build as Mexico suffered only three losses in the first 32 encounters between the teams while winning on 24 occasions.

U.S. SUPERIORITY   Continued...

U.S. national soccer team coach Juergen Klinsmann gestures during their international friendly soccer match against Germany in Cologne, Germany June 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Ina Fassbender