Every few months, work-related activities in cities throughout Latin America abruptly stop before World Cup qualifiers. In Mexico, sick leaves spike, and in Bogotá, the already precarious transportation system finally collapses.
A general paralysis can be expected tonihgt, when seven World Cup qualifying games-- four from CONMEBOL, the South American soccer federation, and three from CONCACAF, the federation that encompasses Northern and Central America--will send throngs of people to their favorite bars and restaurants, not just in Latin America but around the world.
Here are the Games: What to Watch For and Where to Watch Them (home team is mentioned first)
México vs. USA (9:55 p.m. ET on Univision)
Arguably the main event of the night, this game will face off two of CONCACAF's best offensive teams. A hard-pressed Mexico has to win at home after coming away with ties in the first two games of the CONCACAF´s final group stage. Though the U.S. has a historical record of 23 losses, 1 tie and just one win in Mexico´s high altitude Estadio Azteca, there is some room for hope. The American team just won a big game against Costa Rica, in Colorado no less, a (much colder) high-altitude location. There will be no snow blizzard covering the field today, so both teams will be able to lay out their full attacking game. Watch out for Clint Dempsey on the U.S. team and for Mexico's "Chicharito" Hernández, who, as in most games, might score a goal, somehow.
Bolivia vs. Argentina (3:55 p.m. ET on beIN SPORT)
The last time this match was played, Argentina lost 6-1 to Bolivia in the breathless heights of La Paz in a humiliating game that nearly cost Diego Maradona his position as manager. Today, a strong Argentinian team plans to take revenge on a crippled squad that was recently thrashed by Colombia. As always with Argentina, watch out for Lionel Messi, the world's best soccer player, who could carry his team towards a new victory that would all but certify their presence in the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
Chile vs. Uruguay (7:25 p.m. ET on beIN SPORT Español)
Chile has lost its past four games in the extenuating South American qualifying competition, while Uruguay has lost two and drawn two. Both teams need to win in order to secure a better footing in the competition. Chile, however, won't be able to count on star Barcelona attacker Alexis Sánchez, who is suspended due to yellow cards. Sanchez will probably be replaced by Estebán Paredes, a forward who plays in Mexico. Meanwhile, "La Celeste" could see changes in the midfield, where manager Óscar Tabáres could replace Cristián Rodríguez in the starting squad with Gastón Ezequiel Ramírez, an attacking midfielder who plays for Southampton in the U.K.
Venezuela vs. Colombia (7:55 p.m. ET on beIN SPORT)
Not since at least 1993 could Colombians pride themselves on having such a good team. After comfortably beating Bolivia at home, the squad, managed by José Pékerman, visits "La Vinotinto," which recently lost an away game to Argentina. The Venezuelan defense will have to keep its eyes and legs on Radamel Falcao and Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, while the Colombians will keep an eye on veteran midfielder Juan Arango, a maestro of free kicks, who has already scored three times against them.
Ecuador vs. Paraguay (4:55 p.m. ET on beIN SPORT)
The Ecuadorian team hasn't lost a single game on their home turf. Currently third on the CONMEBOL standings with 17 points, Ecuador has a fit and strong squad with explosive players like Manchester United's Antonio Valencia. They play Paraguay, the last team in the standings with a mere eight points. The Guaraníes have no room for mistakes, as a loss could mean an end to their World Cup hopes.
Costa Rica vs. Jamaica (9:55 p.m. ET on beIN SPORT)
After losing to the U.S. in a controversial "blizzard bowl" last Friday, the Ticos must defeat Jamaica during their first home game in the CONCACAF final group stage. Costa Rica's manager, Jorge Luis Pinto, will probably play with a very offensive lineup, so watch out for striker Joel Campbell from Betis, who might be a starter this time.
Panamá vs. Honduras (9:55 p.m. ET on beIN SPORT)
Panamá and Honduras recently survived two complicated games against Jamaica and Mexico, respectively. The Panamanians drew 1-1 against the Reggae Boys in Kingston, while the Hondurans, who are quickly becoming the favorites in the CONCACAF region, managed to turn around a 0-2 deficit against Mexico, squeaking out an important draw at home. Panama is pressured to win at home, while Honduras hopes to maintain the top spot in the CONCACAF standings. Keep an eye on Carlos Costly, a Honduran forward from the Greek Superleague, who scored against Mexico in the previous game.