The NFL is one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events in the U.S every single year and it crowns the champions of the National Football League in front of millions of viewers. Could you imagine a sport just as popular all over the world but only have the “big game” played once every four years? It’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where that would even be possible due to the large demand to watch a game with that much on the line. Well you can stop thinking about that scenario because, believe it or not, that situation is real. In the world of soccer, the world’s most popular sport, the World Cup comes once every four years. And once every four years in North America, the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) squares off against Mexico in the U.S at Columbus Crew Stadium.
“Dos A Cero”. 2-0. The phrase becomes more popular every four years when the USMNT and Mexican Nation Team meet up in World Cup qualifying. Mexico still holds a distinct advantage in the rivalry claiming victory in 30 of the 62 matches ever played. But when it comes to playing soccer in Columbus, Ohio they have not been as lucky. To be clear, Mexico has never won in Columbus. More specifically, they have lost the last four World Cup Qualifiers played at Crew Stadium by a score of 2-0. Hence the “Dos A Cero” that everyone has now ringing in their ears after Tuesday night in Columbus.
But Tuesdays game felt a little bit different than the others. Now, I will admit I have not been fortunate enough to attend any of the other USA vs. Mexico games are Crew Stadium in the past but there was a feeling anticipation before this game that I have never felt before any other sporting event in my life. And this is coming from a guy who has been to a lot of Browns games. Pause. Okay, that was a joke. In all seriousness, the only sporting event that I have been to that can compare to this was the 2002 Ohio State vs. Michigan game at The Shoe in front of 105,000 people and I would still give the World Cup qualifier the advantage without a doubt.
The scene was historic. 25,000 people all standing and singing in unison that can be see in the pictures on this page was reflective of a Champions League Final game in Europe. You could feel the anticipation growing throughout the day and even in the days leading up the the match. Supporters traveled all from 49 states to watch the USA play and there were massive parties the night before with all the supporters groups & locals. The festivities were endless and the night was prepped for action.
After a competitive but scoreless first half, the game quickly picked up after half-time. Mexican goalkeeper Jesús Corona rushed off of his line to try an intercept the cross from Donovan, but he was too late. As Clarence Goodson created a path for Johnson, the Seattle Sounders star firmly headed the ball past Mexico defender Fernando Arce, who could not react quickly enough to clear the ball away with his right foot.
It was that scoreline again. 2-0. It still doesn’t seem real, even as I put my thoughts down on this paper. Especially since Clint Dempsey of all people “missed” a penalty with less than two minutes remaining in the match. Whoever was a part of the crowd that night witnessed history. The USMNT is going to the World Cup for the sixth consecutive time and this will be another opportunity for our country’s soccer team to prove itself on the international stage.
In the future when I reflect on this game, I will remember the unique passion I saw on the faces around me in the crowd. It didn’t matter if it was a grown man who most likely never played soccer at all growing up or a passionate Ohio State student, everyone was chanting for the same team. Columbus truly put on a great show and soccer fans in the area should be proud.
There will always be rumors of moving the location of this game and I am okay with that. And if the game eventually gets moved, i’d root on the USMNT all the same. But in saying that, you can’t ignore history. There is something is the air of Columbus that Mexico can’t handle when here and the U.S always plays well here. I was fortunate enough to witness this first hand and I hope this game proved soccer is alive in the United States and, equally important, Columbus.
If you watched the game on tv or were at the match, what are your thoughts? Did you care that the U.S qualified in Columbus? Do you think this game should ever be moved?