USA's Landon Donovan (white jersey) looks to make a move against Mexico during their World Cup qualifier on September 10, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: John Todd/isiphotos.com)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When the United States defeated Mexico, 2-0, on a freezing winter night here in 2001, little did the Americans realize at the time they would set an historical standard that is tested every qualifying cycle for the FIFA World Cup.
The host was just happy to defeat the CONCACAF power because it hadn't done so in qualifying since 1980, a 2-1 triumph at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Three more wins in three straight qualifying editions followed – all by the same 2-0 score – in 2005, 2009 and 2013 – and, thus, the legend of ‘dos a cero’ was born.
The North American rivals will tussle once again at MAPFRE Stadium on Friday night in the opening match for both in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for Russia 2018.
It would border on the statistically bizarre for the U.S. to record yet another 2-0 victory, but then again not many observers would’ve believed it could accomplished four consecutive times.
Here’s a look at the previous World Cup qualifiers contested between the U.S. and Mexico in Columbus:
- February 28, 2001
With temperatures dropping to 29 degrees, the U.S. was living its worst nightmare as striker Brian McBride (swollen eye) and playmaking midfielder Claudio Reyna (groin injury) were forced from the game. Josh Wolff, who had only four international matches under his belt to that point, came on as a substitute to scored one goal and set-up Earnie Stewart for the second.
- September 3, 2005
The U.S. rubbed salt into Mexican wounds, not only winning, 2-0, but also securing a 2006 FIFA World Cup berth. Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley tallied early in the second half.
- February 11, 2009
It was more of the same as midfielder Michael Bradley, the son of then U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, scored once in each half – the second goal came in the second minute of second-half stoppage time off a Landon Donovan assist. Goalkeeper Tim Howard recorded the shutout.
- September 10, 2013
Tim Howard was in the net again for another ‘dos a cero’ game. Landon Donovan, who walked away from soccer for a brief time earlier that year, connected for one goal and created another for Eddie Johnson.
Can the Mexicans break the Hexagonal hex? We will find out Friday night.