The Mexican national team has always been a big draw in SoCal. I remember when Mexico and South Africa played in the 2005 Gold Cup at Home Depot Center. That was one of the most hectic times I remember at HDC. The traffic outside the stadium was crazy and I parked very far away. I missed the first five minutes of the game because of the traffic and crowd and the like.
But in March, we'll find out of the young Mexican national team will have the same appeal as the senior team. Mexico's Under-23 team will compete at Home Depot Center in March as El Tri will try and qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The group will also include Canada, Haiti and Guatemala. The top two teams will advance to the all-important semifinal round in Nashville, Tenn. and the semifinal winners will reach the Olympics.
El sub-23 Tri could feature Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela but it may not. Mexico officials have grumbled about the possible absences of these two Spanish-based players. Still, without the starpower Gio and Vela bring, the young Tri should have plenty of support.
Doubleheader dates at HDC will be on March 12, 14 and 16, a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Will they be sellouts? I doubt it, but I think there will some decent-sized crowds. I think the young Tri will draw more fans for each of their three games than the US senior side when it plays Sweden on Jan. 19. I know, I'm going out on a big limb there.