When Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez said tonight’s Gold Cup Final against the United States is his biggest ever game, maybe he means it.
Manifest destiny, the Monroe Doctrine, Santa Ana, migration, SB1070, GDP more than three times higher in the US than Mexico: Mexico has always had the underdog mentality etched onto its soul when it comes to the United States.
Just a few weeks ago Chicharito played in the Champions League Final, surely a more important game? Most would agree but, in Mexico, this is the game that can define players’ careers and produce national heroes and villains.
It is the game that defines the CONCACAF region and sees the teams meet for the third consecutive time at the final stage.
"It is about pride," reads one headline in Record today. And, of course, for Mexico the game does take on a relevance that jumps outside the sporting arena.
On www.mediotiempo.com there is a game in which you box as Chicharito and attempt to knock out Landon Donovan. The build up is intense.
There won’t be much uproar about the internet game. However, the other way round (with Chicharito being punched) and Mexicans would not be happy. That is the nature of the Mexico and US rivalry: David vs. Goliath.
One of the few domains that Mexico could successfully use David’s slingshot to slay Goliath (and have some great parties, bbq’s and booze-ups while doing it) was in football matches between the two sides.
That changed on June 17, 2002. On that day, the US versus Mexico clasico (in the true sense of the word) was born. The US knocked Mexico out the World Cup in South Korea and the Mexican national team’s football hegemony over the US ended abruptly.
Since then, games between the two sides have been battles with real intensity and, more importantly, more equality: perhaps the key ingredient in a clasico.