Tim Howard (dark blue jersey) is positioned to make a save in the USA's World Cup qualifier against visiting Trinidad & Tobago on June 8, 2017, in Commerce City, Colorado, USA. (Photo: CA-Images)
MEXICO CITY -- The United States again enters the Estadio Azteca as an underdog.
Yet, the Americans are confident they can win for the first time in a competitive match against Mexico at the historic venue, when the sides meet on Sunday in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
"We have to think that we can do it," said goalkeeper Tim Howard. "There's no sense in getting on the plane if we don't."
The 38-year-old custodian was heartened by the fact his side does have one win at the Azteca, a 1-0 triumph in a 2012 friendly, proving "it can be done."
“It wasn't qualifying, but they didn't roll over and die for us here,” he continued. “We beat them handily. We feel confident we can do that again. It's good to know we have because before then it was ‘what if’ because we had never done it. The last time we came here in qualifying we got a nil-nil [draw in 2013], which is also a very good result for us."
For any team to come away with three points, Howard said it would have to play a near-perfect game.
"Your goalkeeper has to play really well," the former Everton star finished. "Your defense has to get lots of blocks and close players down. They always seem to have more players than they actually do. They do a good job of pinning you in, making the field very long. So, when you win the ball back, it's a long way to go."
Regardless of the final result, first-place Mexico (4W-1D-0L, 13 points) will finish matchday six in the first place, while the third-place U.S. (2-1-2, 7) could jump up one spot.