United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he is happy to know that the fans at the sold-out Rose Bowl for Saturday's U.S.-Mexico CONCACAF Cup match will be overwhelmingly pro-Mexico because it gives the U.S. a chance to "win them over."
The game is the sole chance for either country to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup, which Klinsmann has said represents an important opportunity to prepare for Russia 2018.
"They [the U.S.] are going to win over thousands of Mexican fans to their side, because of the 90,000 fans that go to the Rose Bowl, even if only maybe 60,000 wear the green jersey, a lot of them have another jersey underneath and that's the American jersey," Klinsmann said. "I bumped into a fan at the gas station and he said: 'I'm cheering for both teams,' and I said: 'Good for you, we are going to win you over.'"
For the U.S., the match serves as a way for Klinsmann to measure progress under Klinsmann and show which players may advance to the 2018 World Cup cycle.
"These moments, this is what you live for," Klinsmann said. "These big games, you want your team to be able to prove themselves.
"I think it's probably the biggest game in many years," Klinsmann added. "It's the clash between Mexico in the United States and there's no bigger game than between those two nations."
Mexico, meanwhile, is in the midst of constant coaching changes and scrutiny under interim coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti as they look to end a six-game winless streak against the United States that dates back to 2011. Ferretti is Mexico's seventh coach since 2010.
"The ones that pay are the players and the fans," said retired veteran player Claudio Suarez. "We've been on the brink of missing out on the World Cup three times. I don't know how to explain it to you: I still don't understand."
Klinsmann insisted the U.S. was not the underdog headed into the match.
"I think we are pretty even with Mexico," he said. "I think if we go in, look at the players, yeah they play in big clubs in Europe. Our players have a lot of experience -- the last four years we haven't lost a game. And the players want to prove themselves with a big rival.
"So it's gonna be even, it's gonna be very emotional, it's gonna be nasty, it's gonna be very aggressive. The Rose Bowl will rock on Saturday night."