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World Cup Qualifying

USA vs. Mexico: Matchday Commentary

USA Crest    MexicoLogo

Today is the day folks. The day circled on your calender. The day that only comes once every four years.

That day is when the U.S. national team plays host to Mexico in World Cup qualifying.

Tonight's USA-Mexico match (7pm, ESPN2HD/ESPN2/Univision) has a special feeling around it and even more electricity and anticipation than the 2005 version. That's probably because in 2005 the Hexagonal round of qualifying was pretty much decided by the time the United States faced Mexico in Columbus in September of that year.

This time around the teams meet in the first of the ten Hexagonal Round games. Tonight's match will set the tone for the entire round, and it also comes as Mexico enters the match in a considerable slump. It is also the first of these qualifying meetings where the United States comes in as a clear-cut favorite.

Since I will be running around Columbus today dealing with a variety of things I will be doing a running match-day commentary. I will post all MLS and U.S. national team news, along with any developments from here in Columbus, throughout the day. It obviously won't be minute-by-minute, but I will try to post throughout the day, leading up to tonight's match (where a separate live commentary will run during tonight's match).

Buckle up folks, let's have some fun today:

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4:43pm- Okay folks, I am in the stadium and I can tell you that the rain is coming down pretty heavy. No lighting or thunder (or tornadoes, thank goodness). At least not yet. I will be signing out for now and starting up a live commentary post in a half hour. For now, feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on the day's events in the comments section below. Thanks for following along today.

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3:53pm– A tornado watch in the area. Lovely. And yes, the rain is coming down now. Not really heavy, but enough to drench people.

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3:45pm- Remember those loud fans i was hearing? Yes, they're Mexican. Don't worry American fans, there were plenty of Americans at the Claddagh's Irish Pub getting ready for the game.

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3:24pm- I will be surveying the stadium scene. There's a pretty loud group of fans here. I don't know where from yet, but I am going to find out.

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3:14pm- I'm at the stadium and there are quite a few Mexico fans in the area. It will be interesting to see the percentage.

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2:34pm- On the MLS front, I've been told that an unidentified team approached Jeff Parke's representatives about Jeff Parke's rights. No word on what team that is. Parke is currently in Belgium where he is still pursuing options in Europe.Any team interested in Parke would have to swing a deal with Parke.

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2:32pm- Looks like there are quite a few earlier arrivers at the stadium. No rain downtown yet but there are some dark clouds looming. Also, there is some wind, but nothing too extreme.

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2:23pm- No rain at the stadium yet. I just drove by, but I did see what looked like some heavy rain on the horizon.

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2:05pm– The SBI contest banner has been picked up and it looks pretty nice. It's a bit smaller than I thought it would be (for some reason I thought four feet by eight feet would look bigger) but it should still look good at the game. Now I just need to find somebody to hang this thing.

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1:39pm– The quest for the banner is taking longer than I expected. In other news, SBI correspondent GianFranco Panizo has arrived in Columbus. He's not covering the game for SBI, but attending as a fan.

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1:08pm– I'm leaving the post-press conference lunch (free meal alert) and am heading out with Jeff Carlisle, who is giving me a ride to pick up the winning SBI banner (You'll need more than voodoo). I'm excited to see how it turned out.

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1:04pm– Electrical storms are set to hit the area this afternoon so fans planning to get to the stadium early for tailgating might want to keep that in mind.

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12:52pm– Regarding expansion, Garber said that all five candidates are still in the running. He also revealed that the Miami/Barcelona bid will, in fact, start in 2010 if Miami is chosen as an expansion city.

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12:37pm– Garber poured some cold water on the buzz out of Ottawa that its bid is now a front-runner in the expansion race. He clarified that the Ottawa bid will have a "good chance" of being chosen if a good stadium project is approved.

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12:31pm– Don Garber just dropped a bombshell, stating rather emphatically that MLS has given AC Milan a Friday deadline to complete a David Beckham transfer. Look for a separate story on that one.

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12:05pm– "FIFA knows what we can do. They know we don't have to build any stadiums," Gulati said about the U.S. World Cup bid hopes.

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12pm– Still waiting for word on what Seattle is getting from New York in the Khano Smith trade. I'll stick by allocation money. I know some Red Bulls fans aren't big on Smith, but he's inexpensive and Juan Carlos Osorio is a coach who always thinks he can make players better. It shouldn't be assumed that Smith will be a starter for the Red Bulls. I actually see Dom Oduro and Dane Richards working the wings this year for New York.

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11:55am– Gulati just stated that he wasn't too worried about tonight's match being cancelled because of electrical storms. A delay could be possible, but Gulati doesn't believe a cancellation is a real possibility. 

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11:53am– Word out of Ottawa today is that the Ottawa MLS expansion bid has been told it is a front-runner and very likely to be chosen for 2012 expansion if a stadium deal gets done. Don Garber is here so I will be asking him about that one. Is this development shocking? Not so much, not given the current financial landscape in the United States. Disappointing? I would say so because I really thought either St. Louis or Portland and Miami would be the cities.

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11:50am- I'm at the USSF World Cup bid press conference. Sunil Gulati is speaking. Nothing too dramatic yet. When asked about a potential USA-Mexico joint bid, Gulati pointed out that under new FIFA mandates, a joint bid isn't a realistic possibility. He also wouldn't agree with the notion that the USSF has to focus on bidding on 2022 sine Europe appears to be pushing hard for 2018. 

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11:06 am– Kansas City fans, your team may have its playmaker. Word out of KC is the club is set to sign former San Lorenzo midfielder Santiago Hirsig. I have just gotten word that a deal isn't done yet, but it is close and likely to get done. If the Wizards can land Hirsig at a bargain rate it will continue a pretty strong off-season for the club. They were able to sign Claudio Lopez for less than DP money, Josh Wolff is looking great in pre-season and rookie Graham Zusi is showing some flashes. The Wizards might be a top team to watch in '09.

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10:52am– Sunil Gulati and U.S. World Cup bid director David Downs will be holding a press conference today to discuss World cup bids (among other things I would imagine). Don Garber is supposed to be there as well.

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