Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is no stranger to the U.S.-Mexico rivalry. As boss of the U.S. national team from 1998 through the 2006 World Cup, he guided the Yanks in a dozen games against El Tri, including the 2-0 victory in the 2002 World Cup round of 16.
It was under Arena's leadership that this series turned in favor of the Americans. His first two games against Mexico were one-goal losses, in a San Diego friendly and in the 1999 Confederations Cup semifinals at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. His teams were 7-2-1 against their biggest rivals the rest of his tenure, both losses coming in World Cup qualifiers at Azteca.
Mexico hasn't beaten a full-strength U.S. side away from Mexico City since 1999.
Arena was asked this week his thoughts on the final and who he thought would win. His response:
“Uh … I'm gonna pick the U.S. team, but I think the Mexican team is gonna be a tough team to beat. I think perhaps one advantage the U.S. has is that extra 30 minutes that Mexico had to play [in its overtime victory against Honduras in Wednesday's semifinals in Houston] could play a factor on Saturday.
“I don't think Mexico did real well. They were looking to get a third goal at 2-0 [in overtime] instead of conserving a little energy. They were really working to get a third goal as well, and maybe that'll cost them a little bit in the last 10 to 15 minutes Saturday against the U.S.
“But we'll see. The U.S. always plays well against Mexico. I'm sure it will be a pro-Mexico crowd in the Rose Bowl, so it will be a very challenging environment for the U.S. team.”
The game, which begins at 6:10 p.m., is sold out. Fox Soccer Channel and Univision (KMEX/Channel 34) will televise.