CARSON, Calif. – In the FIFA World Ranking released Thursday, Mexico slotted in at 15th. To find the United States, one must skim down 13 spots, to 28th.
That's an accurate representation of the level of each team, according to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann. But it doesn't diminish his desire to leapfrog El Tri.
"In FIFA rankings they are [ahead] right now, because they did well over the last couple of years, so they deserve to have the pole position for many people," Klinsmann said. "That's totally fine with us. But at the end of the day when we play them we want to beat them. We went already to Azteca and, surprise, surprise, we won there."
In August, the United States posted a first-ever win on Mexican soil, beating El Tri 1-0 in a friendly.
The next Azteca Stadium showdown is scheduled for March 26 as the third match of the Hexagonal. Klinsmann is already licking his lips.
"I can't wait," he said. "Games like Mexico - the U.S. is like Germany - Holland. Those are the games you want to play."
Before that, though, the Yanks kick off the Hex with a visit to San Pedro Sula in Honduras next month. The former German international warned that away trips in CONCACAF are tough. "Even for Mexico, it's very difficult," he said. "It's very difficult."
Mexico finished the penultimate round of CONCACAF qualifying without a loss. Also last year El Tri won the U-17 World Cup and the Olympic gold. That pedigree demands respect, according to Klinsmann.
"We have great admiration for the Mexican side," Klinsmann said. "We obviously follow them closely, and they did tremendous over the last years, there's no doubt about it. The Olympics was an unbelievable, wonderful achievement, and you can be only full of compliments."
That said, Mexico's prowess offers not intimidation but inspiration to the former Bayern Munich coach.
"You respect them, you admire them and then you want to beat them," Klinsmann said.
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