ESPN2, Univision To Air U.S.-Mexico World Cup Qualifier Tonight


The U.S. takes on Mexico in the opener of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tonight at 7 p.m. (ET), with ESPN2 and Univision carrying the match live from Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
The game is the first of 10 CONCACAF qualifiers the U.S. and its rival to the south will play in a group that also included Honduras, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador in a series of home-and-away contests this year. Three of the six will automatically qualify for the 2010 World Cup, slated for South Africa. The fourth-place finisher will match up against the fifth-place World Cup qualifier from South America, with the winner securing one of 32 berths in the FIFA championship.
The U.S., which topped Mexico in the round of 16 during the 2002 World Cup, has not lost to El Tricolor, including a 2-0 win in Columbus during 2001 WC qualifying, on American soil since 1999, ringing up an 8-0-1 mark over the span.
Conversely, the U.S. has not traveled well to the south: The team has never won in Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, the bookend final site of the CONCACAF qualifiers for the sides this time round.
More folks figure to watch the game on Univision tonight than ESPN2. For example on Feb. 6, 2008, the Spanish-language broadcaster's coverage of the match between the teams averaged 5.09 million viewers, compared with ESPN2's 749,000, according to Nielsen data.
ESPN2's coverage of the Mexico-U.S. WC qualifier in 2005 netted a 0.7 household rating, 630,277 households and 950, 856 viewers on average. The seven CONCACAF qualifiers, including the Mexico match, ESPN2 presented that year averaged a 0.52 rating, 460,893 households and 629, 174 watchers.