Mexico coach Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre at University of Phoenix Stadium - Jose M. Romero
2013 is a big year for the Mexican soccer federation and it starts Jan. 30 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mexico's national soccer team is going to be very busy this year. "El Tri" is the top team in the CONCACAF region World Cup 2014 qualifying hexagonal and plays 10 matches before presumably qualifying for Brazil in 2014. Mexico is also in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the North American championship tournament held every two years, and as 2011 Gold Cup champion, will play in this summer's Confederations Cup in Brazil.
That tournament is viewed a the dress rehearsal for the World Cup, but still features the top eight teams from eight world soccer regions.
The FMF, Mexico's soccer federation, also has a five-match U.S. tour planned for the ever-popular team this year, with Mexico's success and fan base transcending international borders. The first stop on that tour? University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 30 against Denmark. The match serves as a tuneup for the World Cup qualifiers that begin next month and brought Mexico head coach Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre out to Arizona for a preview with local media on Monday.
"Our principal focus is on qualifying for the World Cup," De la Torre said in Spanish. "This match will help us prepare for Jamaica (first qualifier). This match is really important for us to see what we can do."
Mexico's selected players will convene a week before heading to Arizona. It's reasonable to expect some big names to be in Glendale, but also some younger players who need experience to provide solid depth in upcoming competitions and friendlies.
Don't expect to see Mexican players based in Europe, like Manchester United star Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. However, Jan. 30 is not a FIFA international date, so the players Mexico will have in Arizona will come from the country's top league, the Primera Division, de la Torre said.
That could mean a chance to see some players from Mexico's 2012 Olympic gold-medal winning team. All but one of those players are based in Mexico.
De la Torre would like to get a look at some players in the domestic league, anyway. Denmark is no slouch of a team, currently ranked No. 23 in the FIFA world rankings only eight spots behind Mexico.
"The Confederations Cup will come, the Gold Cup will come, all the rest, but first our focus is the first qualifier against Jamaica," de la Torre said, adding that all personnel decisions will be very carefully measured and clear as to who should be on the team. "There aren't two national teams in Mexico. There aren't two countries in Mexico. There is only one national team and one Mexico."
After his comments, De la Torre posed for photos and received an NFL Arizona Cardinals jersey from stadium authority executives.
This will be the third time Mexico has played at U of P Stadium, which just hosted the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl last Thursday. El Tri played the U.S in 2007 and Guadeloupe in a Gold Cup match in 2009. Denmark is also in World Cup qualifying in Europe at present.
Tickets remain available for the match via Ticketmaster.