The Mexican National Team will kick off its 2005 “Coca-Cola Presents Real Mexican Soccer” tour of the United States with a historic matchup against European power Sweden on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at PETCO Park in San Diego, CA. The match will mark the soccer match to be held at PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
Mexico will take on only its second European opponent since the 2002 World Cup and the first since facing Iceland on November 19, 2003 (0-0 tie). The most recent encounter between Mexico and Sweden took place during the summer of 1994 in Fresno, California, just prior to the 1994 World Cup, which was played on U.S. soil. On that occasion, Mexico defeated Sweden, 2-1. Mexico’s last visit to the San Diego area came in March 2003, when they tied Paraguay 1-1. Sweden is no stranger to Southern California, given that San Diego served as their home base during the 1994 World Cup, where they enjoyed a historic run to the semifinals, when they were eliminated by eventual champion, Brazil.
Mexico (No. 7 in recent FIFA world ranking poll) and Sweden (No. 13) have met on seven occasions, with the first meeting resulting in a 3-0 Sweden win on June 8, 1958 during the 1958 World Cup. In the all-time series between the two countries, Mexico has won two times, with Sweden claiming three victories and two ties. Sweden also holds the all-time edge in goals scored with seven goals compared to Mexico’s five.
Both countries are currently in the midst of regional qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup which will be held in Germany. México, coached by Ricardo Lavolpe, concluded the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifiers without a loss and will use its match against Sweden as preparation for its first two qualifiers of the final round: versus Costa Rica (Feb. 9, 2005) and the United States (March 26, 2005).
Sweden, coached by Lars Lagerbäck, stands in first place in Group 8 of UEFA World Cup qualifying with nine points (three wins, one loss). Lagerbäck and his team will travel to the United States, in preparation for two upcoming UEFA World Cup qualifiers versus Bulgaria (March 25, 2005) and Malta (June 4, 2005). Sweden has traditionally been one of Europe’s strongest sides, qualifying to three of the last four World Cups (dating back to 1990) and most recently advancing to the quarterfinals of EURO 2004, losing on penalty kicks at the hands of the Netherlands 5-4.
Mexico, which made its first annual U.S. tour during 2004, experienced a busy season with its participation in the prestigious Copa America, the 2004 Summer Olympics and five successful international exhibitions as part of the U.S. tour that averaged more than 30,000 fans per market. Mexico tied Chile (1-1 on Feb. 18), lost to Costa Rica (2-0 on Mar. 31) and the United States (1-0 on Apr. 28), and rounded off the games with two wins against Ecuador (2-1 on Oct. 27) and Guatemala (2-0 on Nov. 10).