Eddie Lewis (white jersey), shown playing in an international friendly against New Zealand in 2003, is quite familiar with the rivalry between the USA and Mexico. (Photo: J.Brett Whitesell/isiphotos.com)
Eddie Lewis is one of only five players to appear for the United States in both the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup semifinal and 2002 FIFA World Cup round of 16 encounters against Mexico. The retired midfielder, 41, is looking forward to a renewal of the intense rivalry through the 2015 CONCACAF Cup.
Why is it important for the United States to compete in the next FIFA Confederations Cup?
The Confederations Cup, from a soccer standpoint, is a wonderful tournament with very high quality teams. Any time you have an opportunity to play in those types of events you want to be there.
Do you like that CONCACAF’s Confederations Cup representative is selected from the last two Gold Cup winners?
I like the new format. It was always a little strange that one Gold Cup wouldn’t necessarily mean as much as another Gold Cup based on when it was. This is a good way to make each Gold Cup worth the same amount in terms of the Confederations Cup.
Will this add a new wrinkle to the United States-Mexico rivalry?
It’s different. It’s not a qualifier, it’s not during a World Cup. It’s a one-off game for two teams who haven’t seen each other in a little while and with an opportunity for a pretty big prize. I think everyone is going to bring everything they have and try to put it into 90 minutes.
What do you remember about playing against Mexico in the FIFA Confederations Cup semifinals in Mexico City in 1999?
I remember we were going from Guadalajara back to Mexico City for this game and I was going to be playing against a young kid we didn’t really have that much information on. We knew he was kind of a center back, but because he couldn’t break in they kind of pushed him out to right back. I remember thinking this might be a good opportunity for me and it ended up being Rafa Marquez. I remember after the game thinking, ‘yeah, he’s one hell of a defender. This guy is pretty good.’
Was the FIFA Confederations Cup as important then as it is now?
From a FIFA rankings standpoint, the tournament is very valuable and I think that carries a lot of weight for a lot of reasons. I think as the playing field gets more level this tournament will gain in significance and overall importance.