Mexico face Donald Trump's USA
Timing is everything as the CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifying schedule sees Mexico face the US national team at the Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio tonight. The ground has become the spiritual home to the US team since beating the Mexicans 2-0 back in 2001. After the US election this week that saw Donald Trump secure a win to become the 45th US president, the game becomes even more tense following the president elects controversial comments about Mexico. The match will be played near the Great Lakes a long way from the border zone of the nation where Trump promised to erect a wall to divide both countries and it's just the first game in the five team "Hex" where three countries will progress to Russia 2018 with the fourth placed side entering a play-off.
What's going on
‘It's only Rock 'n Roll but I like it" was the famous Rolling Stones lyric, a sentiment that can't be directly translated to the world of football for this particular game as Mexico play in Ohio, one of the many US states where Donald Trump secured the majority vote. The same Trump who made so many controversial comments about Mexicans and now a difficult backdrop for the "Azteca" national side in a game that is already by nature and tradition a highly charged affair. Tonight the Mexican players will do more than just play in a World Cup qualifier.
The game of football carries a unique symbolic power. On occasion we look at players as over pampered, over tattooed prima-donnas. We sometime s fail to see the pressure they are under at club level let alone the weight bestowed upon their shoulders as they pull on the national shirt. A jersey, a national anthem, a ball and ten team-mates whilst the nation watches, expectant I've often thought about the pressure that players at international level are subjected to but nothing comes close to what the Mexican national team will experience tonight in Ohio.