MAPFRE Stadium (pictured) in Columbus, Ohio, will be the venue for the World Cup qualifier between the host USA and Mexico on November 11, 2016. (Photo: John Bacon/Straffon Images)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Given the history of the game, it made absolute sense that the United States picked MAPFRE Stadium to host archrival Mexico in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match.
After all, it was difficult to argue with success. The Americans recorded qualifying wins – by the exact same 2-0 score -- the last four times the North American rivals have tussled at the 23,665-seat venue.
That streak will be put on the line Friday night as they open their schedules in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“It should always be here,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said of the encounter that takes place every four years. “This is where it belongs. We finally got that in our back pocket — a place that we feel comfortable. We feel at home.”
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he expected a pro-American crowd.
"This is a special venue for us, especially when we play Mexico because of the recent results, but we have a real home-field crowd," remarked the 52-year-old. "When we played them last year at the Rose Bowl (in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup), there were probably 65,000 Mexicans and 30,000 U.S. fans.
"This is our home crowd. They're going to push us, help us maybe when there is a difficult moment in the game just to give them energy. We have a lot of respect for the Mexican team. It's great team. It's going to be a very even battle.”
Earlier this week, in order to help tip the scales in his team’s favor, Klinsmann brought in Frankie Hejduk, Gregg Berthalter and Josh Wolff –.three retired players, each of whom experienced previous “dos a cero” matches -- to talk to the younger players about those classic meetings.
"It's awesome to see how loose they were with us," expressed midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. "That's the most important thing to the young guys. There are going to be nerves, but I think it’s to express yourself on the field. Hopefully we'll get a W."
Prior to losing 3-2 in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup, the U.S. was unbeaten in six straight games against Mexico.