COLUMBUS, Ohio – How maddening, how frustrating, how very infuriating it must be for proud Mexican soccer fans to know they have been hashtagged thus: #Dosacero.
It’s the score (2-0, that is) that keeps recurring in big U.S.-Mexico matches.
Before it was a Twitter hashtag, “Dos a cero” was a rallying cry and a verbal stick in the eyes of Mexican supporters, who ruled the region in soccer until about 12 years ago. That’s when the United States began gaining control of the rivalry, crushing Mexican spirits time and again on U.S. soil and once notoriously in Asia, in a Round-of-16 elimination match at World Cup 2002.
So much of the U.S. dominance on home soil happened in Columbus, site of tonight’s big-stakes World Cup qualifier. Here is the history of “Dos a cero” at Crew Stadium:
2001: The original “La Guerra Fria”
Cold weather? In Ohio, in February? Who knew?
Clearly, it was a strategic venue selection by U.S. Soccer officials, and how perfectly it all worked out. So many of the U.S. men played in Europe , or had previously. By contrast most from El Tri had always played in Mexico, where temperatures in the 20s are mostly just a scary tale.
So it was bitterly cold as Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart scored for the United States in the match that started all this. Wolff had his paw prints all over this one, scoring the first goal with a big assist from a Jorge Campos blunder, and then created the insurance strike with some crafty dribbling along the end line. Ironically, Wolff was on the field because Brian McBride had gone off early, injured, unable to see through a badly swollen eye.
That was the important opener in final round qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. There, the United States’ improbable quarterfinal dash helped elevate the game’s domestic standing.
Highlights of that one are here:
Sept. 3, 2005: The United States qualifies!
Just like tonight, the United States went into the warm September afternoon with opportunity in hand to make it official, to book their spot for Germany 2006. Just like tonight, the opportunity came fortuitously against Mexico.
So the scenes were full of red, white and blue pride and joy at the final whistle. Landon Donovan, having been substituted late that day against Ricardo Lavolpe’s Tri Colors, raced around the field with an American flag draped around his shoulders. Kasey Keller and others joined the celebratory laps, taking it all in along with the boisterous Crew Stadium crowd.
Among those celebrating: U.S. center back Oguchi Onyewu, who had first frustrated Mexican scoring star Jared Borgetti and then stared down the man in a famous picture-book moment. (One that helped to make Onyewu a U.S. fan favorite for years to come.) Also celebrating was Steve Ralston, a fairly unlikely figure to nail the game-winner, the goal that officially sent the United States to Germany.
Oh, the game ended 2-0. Of course it did.
Feb. 11, 2009: “La Guerra Fria Two”
Torrential rain before kickoff and fierce winds added to the weather-related misery as U.S. fans and players shook off any elements of discomfort, warmed by the knowledge that it all worked to the psychological advantage of Bob Bradley’s team. So chants of “Dos a cero!” rang through the crowd as Tim Howard made huge, early saves. Later, Michael Bradley was Johnny on the Sport to hammer in a rebound off a corner kick.
Bradley supplied the second goal, as well, a big shot from 25 yards.
The match was also memorable for Rafa Marquez’s further vilification among U.S. fans. Marquez was shown a straight red for his ridiculous, studs-up challenge on Howard in the 65th minute.
Highlights of that one: