COLUMBUS, Ohio - The last three times the United States faced Mexico in a World Cup qualifier ast the home team, the match has taken place in Columbus Crew Stadium. In 2001, 2005 and 2009, the home team left with a 2-0 victory over their CONCACAF rival, creating the legend of Dos a Cero along the way.
Tuesday night, lightning struck in Central Ohio for a fourth time, and moments after another 2-0 victory, the United States were celebrating a hard-earned berth in the 2014 World Cup. For Landon Donovan, who isn't new to the Columbus crowd, it was a bonus to ensure a Brazil trip in such a special venue.
“You could see it when you came to the stadium, it was rocking already. That's a real atmosphere,” Donovan told reporters after the match. “That's what we face when we go away, and it's nice that other teams have to face it when they come here... They certainly boosted us on tonight, and it was great to do it in front of them.”
Mix Diskerud, whose cross set up Donovan's goal that put the USMNT up 2-0, experienced a USA vs. Mexico match at Crew Stadium for the first time, and was emphatic in his reaction.
“Oh my God,” he loudly exclaimed at a question about the crowd. “This was one of the best crowds I've ever played for. Just giving back the three points to them, I think they appreciated it. It was a great atmosphere; I'd like to play here again.”
Even against opponents not named Mexico, the USMNT has never lost at Crew Stadium, now boasting a 7-0-3 record there with 15 goals for and just one goal against versus all opponents since they first played at MLS' inaugural soccer-specific stadium in 2000.
In Jurgen Klinsmann's postgame press conference, the USA head coach told reporters that he thought Columbus gave the team a psychological edge, and that the match's history got into the head of both teams.
“I think the players, when they know that they're playing in Columbus, they know that they have 100 percent behind them. It gives them energy and it gives them confidence,” he said. “And the other thing is that your opponent hasn't won here in quite a while, and knows it's a difficult situation as well. It is a psychological game at the end of the day, and you could feel it... when the Mexican players didn't get a goal that they tried really hard for the first 20 or 25 minutes, it got heavier and heavier.
“They started to doubt themselves. The first touch was off for players who usually have a fantastic first touch. There's absolutely a psychological element in Columbus and it's definitely on our side.”