World Cup qualifying odds: USA at Mexico

Off a crucial win in a blizzard over Costa Rica, the United States could take a big step toward qualifying for next year’s by winning where they almost never do: at , which opened as a -180 favorite on WagerWeb.com for Tuesday’s match. Check our current lines.

Mexico drew their first two matches, at home to Jamaica then away to Honduras, while the Americans lost their opening match in Honduras before battling to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Denver. Clint Dempsey’s first-half goal was his 12th in World Cup qualifying, tying him with career scoring leader Landon Donovan atop the U.S. charts. Meanwhile, Mexico labored to a scoreless draw against Jamaica but then looked back to their best on Friday, at least for 70 minutes. Striker Javier Hernandez scored two superb goals before Honduras replied with two of their own in the last 15 minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw.

The Americans have the added weight of history against them, having never won a World Cup qualifier at the intimidating Azteca Stadium. But In the most recent meeting, the U.S. earned its first victory on Mexican soil, a 1-0 international friendly win on Aug. 15, 2012. Michael Orozco Fiscal scored his first international goal in the 80th minute and goalkeeper Tim Howard made three saves – including two late stops – en route to the historic victory. Howard remains out for now, however, due to injury.

“It won’t be like the friendly we had in August, when it was a half-full stadium,” said veteran DaMarcus Beasley, who plays his club soccer for Liga MX side Puebla. “This game will be 110,000, for sure. It’s our biggest rival; it’s a qualifying match; and they have to get a win. It’s going to be a dogfight.”

In addition, U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones has been ruled out. He sprained his ankle against Costa Rica. Jones did not travel with the team to Mexico. Jones received the injury in the first half, which required two stitches during the interval. He continued play until being subbed out in the 83rd minute.

In the 100-year history of the American program, El Tri has been the Yanks’ most frequent foe, holding a 32-16-12 record all time versus the Americans. The sides have become increasingly competitive over the past dozen years. Since 2000, the Yanks lead the series 11-5-3, and they also eliminated El Tri from the 2002 World Cup. But the pendulum has swung back recently — the U.S. has only one win in the adversaries’ past five meetings.

In a way, the Yanks will be playing with house money in this one. With that 0-12 all-time record in qualifying matches south of the border, it’s no secret that the U.S. is expected to lose. And after Mexico squandered a two-goal lead and had to settle for the tie in Honduras on Friday, suddenly all the stress is on the still-winless hosts.

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