Fresh off a favorable draw for next year’s World Cup, the Mexican national soccer team makes a visit to the Valley tonight in a tune-up match against Hungary.
With thousands of blaring horns and other noise-makers and banners as a backdrop, Mexico will play its last game of the year before what will be a decidedly supportive crowd at Chase Field at 8 p.m. A crowd of 40,000 is expected.
Mexico, ranked seventh in the world by FIFA, soccer’s governing body, will bring some of the players expected to take the field in Germany next summer, but some big names will be missing — including star striker Jared Borgetti.
Borgetti, who scored more goals (14 in 17 games) than any other player in the world during the World Cup qualifying matches that ended in October, plays for Bolton in England’s top soccer league and won’t make the trip. The English season runs through the winter.
Instead, Mexico coach Ricardo La Volpe chose three players among his 18-man roster who have never played a game for the national team to face the 71st-ranked team in the world.
Although La Volpe says he has his roster for the World Cup, Wednesday night’s match gives him another opportunity to look at players who could still earn spots on the final roster.
That won’t matter to the thousands who will cheer nonstop well before and after the two-hour game for "El Tri." That’s short for the "Tricolor," a reference to the red, white and green on Mexico’s flag.
On the field, the match gives Mexico a chance to prove it will be a force to be reckoned with next summer in Germany.
Mexico is 0-6 against European teams since La Volpe took over the national team in 2002. Mexico had an embarrassing 3-0 loss to No. 39 Bulgaria in a friendly match last month in Houston. The Bulgarians didn’t even qualify for the World Cup.
The Mexican national team was granted one of the top eight seeds for the World Cup, and placed in a group with 10th-ranked Portugal, No. 19 Iran and No. 62 Angola for the 32-team quadrennial tournament. Mexico qualified for the World Cup after tying the United States in the six-team regional qualifying tournament held from February to October.
Mexico vs. Hungary What: Exhibition soccer match When: 8 p.m. today Where: Chase Field, Phoenix Tickets: Priced from $21 to $56; available through TicketMaster or the Chase Field box office.