Mexico has for decades been the leading footballing nation in North America. But over the last ten years, the USA, their neighbour from the north, with all the historical and social ties that bind them and separate them, has also become the arch-rivals of Mexico on the football pitch. In spite of the USA's massive advances, Mexico has also enjoyed success, taking the Gold Cup title in 2009 and 2011, and taking Olympic goal in 2012. But in 2013 Mexico has surely been surpassed by the USA, who took the Gold Cup title, and was by far the best in World Cup qualification, becoming the first CONCACAF nation to qualify. In the meantime, Mexico was struggling for a play-off match as they suffered to get points, most notably losing to Honduras in the intimidating Estadio Azteca for the first time ever.
Soon, Honduras and Costa Rica were set to join the USA, while Mexico was bound to dispute the play-off match with Panama. They did well last weekend when they defeated Panama at home, but in their last match Mexico lost 2-1 to Costa Rica, and thus had to hope that Panama did not defeat an already qualified USA side, who went to Panama with many of its reserves.
With the 90 minutes gone Panama were 2-1 up, and heading to a play-off match with New Zealand.
But alas, the US Cavarly came to the rescue of the beleaguered Mexicans in the 91st minute: first Graham Zusi and then Aron Johannsson (both to become national heroes in Mexico, with a few rancheras named after them) scored for the USA to give them a victory, a cold shower for the Panamanians, and a lifeline to the beleaguered Mexicans.
Mexico has been poor to say they least; while they surely be favourites against New Zealand, they should not take it for granted, as New Zealand can surely take out the Mexicans on a good day. And this time, there will be no USA around to help the Mexicans!