COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It’s easy to pinpoint the moment at which the mystique of “Dos a Cero” died.
It happened in the 20th minute of Mexico’s victory over the United States on Friday evening, the moment Miguel Layun’s shot from distance deflected off a defender and settled into the netting behind Tim Howard. At that moment, you could feel a bit of the mythical nature of these games at MAPFRE Stadium disappear into the night.
The strongly pro-American crowd let out a gasp, and at that same moment, Mexico’s supporters burst into cheers. It was as if someone flipped a switch. In vast swaths of red, white and blue, pockets of green burst into view.
For the Mexicans – not just the players and coaches, but the fans as well – the moment was cathartic. They had gone to great lengths to get over this hump – even calling in a sports psychologist during the buildup to this latest clash in Columbus.
After the match, Mexican national team head coach Juan Carlos Osorio met the media in a tent under the shadow of the stadium, answering questions over the roar of a throng of Mexican supporters just outside, supporters chanting a newly minted motto: “Dos-a-Uno” for the new scoreline in the rivalry clash.
“I think one of our assistants said it best,” Osorio said in his native Spanish. “You can’t change history. It’s impossible to change history. But yes, you can make history, and I think our team made history tonight. We started a very tough hexagonal with two away games and we’ve proven already that we have the courage to play anybody, anywhere, that our team is capable of overcoming adversity.
“And in a very tough game, I think we finally displayed the courage and toughness to compete with a very physical team like the US.”
There was indeed a distinctly different tone to Mexico’s play on Friday. In other matches they’ve played in Columbus, any physicality on their part seemed reactive – provoked and dictated by the Americans. In this installment of the rivalry, it was the Mexicans who bossed play through midfield, winning aerial battles and even nabbing a set piece goal, a major role reversal from previous “Dos a Ceros.”
“I think that for soccer in Mexico and for the national team itself, this is something extraordinary,” Osorio added. “It generates confidence, credibility, a lot of things – like any game, though, there are things to reflect on. For now, I’m happy, and I’m happy to share that happiness with all Mexicans.”