Although nothing more than national pride is at stake, Mexico and Chile have brought their strongest possible teams to Los Angeles for tonight's international soccer match at the Coliseum.
The 8 p.m. game will feature some of the sport's brightest stars, including Chile's most accomplished striker, Ivan (Bam Bam) Zamorano, who plays for Real Madrid and is the top goal scorer in the Spanish League this season.
Coached by Xavier Azkargorta, who led Bolivia into last summer's World Cup, Chile is preparing for the Copa America in Uruguay from July 5-23.
Bora Milutinovic, the U.S. national coach, will be a keen observer tonight as he tries to gauge Chile's strengths and weaknesses before the Chile-USA game in Paysandu, Uruguay, on July 8.
The Americans, under Milutinovic, were eliminated in the first round at the last Copa America, in Ecuador in 1993. Chile is their opening-game opponent.
Mexico, meanwhile, also is readying itself for the Copa America, and Coach Miguel Mejia Baron wants to show that the Mexicans' second-place finish behind Argentina in 1993 was no fluke.
Mejia Baron has brought virtually his entire 1994 World Cup team to Los Angeles for tonight's game, including flamboyant goalkeeper Jorge Campos, who is the target of Major League Soccer.
Nike will sponsor the Los Angeles MLS team and, because it also sponsors Campos, the belief is that the company will try to make sure he plays here when the league begins in April of 1996.
Mexico, whose first-round Copa America group includes Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, will have the support of the Coliseum crowd, expected to reach 30,000 to 40,000.