Football - Stakes raised as Mexico prepares to host US

The intense rivalry between the United States and Mexico ensures there is always plenty at stake whenever the two teams meet.

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US coach Jurgen Klinsmann (C) speaks next to player Michael Bradley (R) (Reuters)

Tuesday's World Cup clash at the Azteca Stadium is no different although this match has been given some added spice after both countries made a slow start to the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying.

Mexico drew their first two matches, at home to Jamaica then away to Honduras, while the Americans lost their opening match in Honduras before battling to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica.

"This is another game, a different game," Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre told reporters. "It is at home and we must seek to win."

While Mexico laboured to a scoreless draw against Jamaica, they looked back to their best on Friday, at least for 70 minutes.

Striker Javier Hernandez scored two superb goals before Honduras replied with two of their own in the last 15 minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw.

"The attitude that the team had against Jamaica, for me, was not bad," de la Torre said.

"It was more that we were inaccurate. In Honduras we were more precise and clearer with what we had to do on the field."

The Americans have the added weight of history against them, having never won a World Cup qualifier at the intimidating Azteca Stadium.

However, they did win at least win a friendly at the stadium last year, giving coach Juergen Klinsmann the belief his players can do it again.

"I never had such a big response about a game like that friendly win last August," Klinsmann told ESPN.

"That meant so much to so many people. We respect Mexico but we do not fear them."

Hernandez looms as the key. The 24-year-old has scored 30 goals in just 45 appearances for his national side and poses a major threat to a U.S. defence missing several players through injury.

Winger Andres Guardado and attacker Giovani Dos Santos also make up a fast and creative Mexican forward line while Klinsmann's plans to contain them were dealt a blow by the loss of midfielder Jermaine Jones.

Klinsmann had yet to decide on a replacement although Maurice Edu appeared the most likely option.

The top three teams from the six-team final phase of qualifying earn automatic qualification to next year's World Cup finals in Brazil.

The fourth placed team faces a play-off against the Oceania regional winner.

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