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Home of the Brave: Top 10 moments at Columbus' MAPFRE Stadium

COLUMBUS, Ohio – You never forget the first one.

MAPFRE Stadium isn't the largest or glitziest or most expensive soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer. But it will always be remembered as the pioneer, the paradigm-shifting forerunner of the league's maturation.

As the first soccer-first venue built in modern North American history, the home of Columbus Crew SC has witnessed plenty of memorable occasions at both club and international level. Here's our take on MAPFRE Stadium's top 10 moments.

10. The Deuce Face: Sept. 11, 2012

The US national team and Reggae Boyz have produced some fun matches over the years, but their showdown in Columbus in 2012 was among the most memorable.

The Americans were coming off of a bitterly disappointing 2-1 loss at the hands of Jamaica in Kingston just four days earlier, and Clint Dempsey and the boys responded with a 1-0 win of their own on a Herculez Gomez free-kick stunner from 30 yards. After some Jamaican jawing following a US foul, Deuce capped the crucial win with a GIF for all time.

9. Portland Timbers' first MLS Cup: Dec. 6, 2015

It wasn’t the home team’s finest hour. But MLS Cup 2015 was a shining moment for MAPFRE Stadium and the fans in attendance.

The building was hosting its first MLS title game since 2001, and both fans had the house rocking. It was Crew SC supporters who went home distraught thanks to a 2-1 loss, but the scene was a memorable one for the many Timbers fans who made the trip.

8. The PK miss: Sept. 10, 2013

The 2013 edition of #USAvMEX had plenty of importance and a few classic moments, but a bit less drama than its predecessors.

The USMNT needed a win to clinch a World Cup berth, so the stakes were high. A forgettable first half gave way to a significantly more memorable second 45 minutes, as Eddie Johnson's thunderous header put the Yanks up 1-0 and Landon Donovan scored his final goal against Mexico to give the crowd the 2-0 scoreline they wanted.

Oh, and Dempsey missed that penalty kick five minutes into second-half stoppage time to preserve the Dos a Cero.

7. Chad Marshall dunks on Brian McBride: Nov. 13, 2008

On their way to their first and only MLS championship, the 2008 Eastern Conference Championship may be Columbus Crew SC’s most satisfying moment.

The match marked the return of club legend Brian McBride, who had come back to MLS to join his hometown Chicago Fire instead of his former side in Columbus. To earn a place in MLS Cup, defender Chad Marshall skied over McBride for a game-tying header and Eddie Gaven netted a second to earn the team’s first MLS Cup final berth.

6. USWNT’s World Cup win: Sept. 23, 2003

One of Mapfre Stadium’s proudest accomplishments is serving as a host stadium for the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

In the USWNT’s only match in Columbus, they soundly defeated North Korea thanks to a goal from Abby Wambach and a brace from Cat Whitehill. The women would lose to eventual champions Germany in the semifinal and take third place in the tournament.

5. DeRo’s golden goal: Oct. 21, 2001

MAPFRE Stadium hosted one of the most exciting MLS Cup finals in history – and one of the most important moments in the California Clasico – in 2001, when the San Jose Earthquakes played the LA Galaxy in Columbus for the title.

Dueling strikes from Landon Donovan and Luis Hernandez forced extra time, but a Dwayne De Rosario golden goal in the 96th minute gave the Earthquakes their first championship. 

4. Columbus’ first trophy: Oct. 24, 2002

The proud Crew SC franchise went six years in MLS before earning their first title in the 2002 US Open Cup.

The club hosted the LA Galaxy at their home fortress, pitting legends like McBride, Jeff Cunningham and Brian Maisonneuve against Carlos Ruiz, Cobi Jones and Alexi Lalas.

A lone 30th-minute strike from Columbus’ Freddy Garcia gave the hosts the win, earning the first item for their trophy case.

3. The storm: Feb. 11, 2009

One of the most memorable and intense Dos a Cero matchups came during a downpour on a frigid February night.

Columbus winter weather was not kind to the teams, spewing freezing rain and hail. Michael Bradley put in one of his most inspiring USMNT performances in the slick conditions, scoring twice to vanquish El Tri. Even a vicious studs-up tackle on Tim Howard that got Rafa Marquez sent off couldn’t stop the Americans.

2. MLS’ first soccer-specific stadium: May 5, 1999

When Columbus hosted the New England Revolution to christen the stadium, then-owner Lamar Hunt’s vision changed the game for American soccer.

Crew SC beat the Revs 2-0 in front of more than 24,000 fans, ushering in a new era of soccer-specific stadia around the country.

1. The beginning: Feb. 28, 2001

When Columbus hosted USA vs. Mexico for the first time, the night belonged to Josh Wolff (now a Crew SC assistant coach). The winger scored and assisted in central Ohio's inaugural 2-0 scoreline, setting the precedent for all that followed.

But Wolff wasn’t the only factor working against Mexico. The winter chill was so cold that El Tri's players didn’t even warm up before the match, which became known as "La Guerra Fria," or "The Cold War."

The USMNT haven’t lost to Mexico in Columbus since.

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