Mexico v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

More than a scoreline, “Dos a Cero” signifies U.S. dominance over Mexico

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When Clint Dempsey stepped up to take his 93rd minute penalty kick, I bet almost half of the packed crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium hoped he would miss.

Deuce duly obliged.

That may seem silly, U.S. fans wishing their own player to miss a penalty and yeah, a good chunk would have liked to have seen Dempsey hammer home the spot kick with the last kick of the game.

But at that point, it really didn’t matter. The USA’s recent dominance over Mexico continued and Jurgen Klinsmann’s men piled on more misery to manager-less Mexico.

(MORE: Dos a Cero again! … United States qualifies for World Cup after 2-0 win over Mexico)

As the Columbus crowd chanted “Dos a Cero” in rhythmic unison to taunt the Mexican players and coaching staff, it just made sense that the U.S. were going to win 2-0. It just had to be like this in Columbus.

The last four times the U.S. have played Mexico in Columbus they’ve won 2-0. The same scoreline prevailed in 2001, 2005, 2009 and now 2013. (And let’s not forget about the USA’s World Cup victory in 2002 by the scoreline of… you guessed it, 2-0) Mexico’s players must look to Columbus as an indomitable fortress that they will never conquer, no matter how hard they try. But let’s not kid ourselves, for the opening stages El Tri looked composed and forced Tim Howard into a few good saves.

Yet the “Dos a Cero” chant continued and got louder as the game wore on and then Eddie Johnson rose highest from a second half corner to head home. And when Landon Donovan tapped in late on, the 20,000 plus national team supporters in Columbus got their wish.

“Dos a Cero. Dos a Cero.”

The scoreline was a predictable one and now that the dust has settled on a night where the U.S. sealed World Cup qualification for the seventh-straight time, some intriguing stats back up their recent success against Mexico, not only in Columbus.

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Tim Howard admitted he wanted it to be “Dos a Cero” once again.

Since 2000, the USA has won 12 times against Mexico, losing just five times and drawing  four. The United States have never lost at Columbus Crew Stadium and have won five and tied two of the seven home WC qualifiers against El Tri since 1972.

(MORE: Even U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard wanted it to be 2-0)

Those stats spell out what many Mexican fans have been fearing for quite some time: the U.S. are in the ascendancy over their fierce rivals from the South. For many years Mexico had the upper hand on their Northern neighbors but now the pendulum has swung back and forth — following 2011 Gold Cup success for Mexico and U.S. success in World Cup qualifying — and finally settled in the USA.

With a huge rebuilding process on the way for El Tri following the firing of manger Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre last week, dominating Mexico could be something U.S. fans can look forward to for many years to come.

For many years the U.S. just couldn’t get a grip on Mexico, in Mexico. Boasting a 0-13-2 in World Cup Qualifying matches in Mexico and 1-23-2 all-time internationally, Klinsmann’s men are gradually turning the tide on their bitter CONCACAF rivals. Yet even the intimidating confides of the Azteca have been breached on the last two visits from the U.S. national team following their 1-0 friendly win in August 2012 and the 0-0 WC qualifying draw in March 2013.

After Tuesday’s damaging defeat Mexico are struggling with Honduras, Panama and Jamaica for the final automatic WC spot and they aren’t the favorites to grab it. The U.S. can put their feet up and relax in their final two qualifiers.

The USA’s dominance over Mexico has never been as clear as it is right now.

Bremen beats Wolfsburg to leave Bundesliga relegation zone

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Serge Gnabry of Germany reacts during the Men's First Round Football Group C match between Germany and Fiji at Mineirao Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.

Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.

It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.

Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.

Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.

Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.

Mancini reportedly not interested in Leicester City, De Boer says no

GENOA, ITALY - APRIL 20:  Head Coach of FC Internazionale Roberto Mancini looks during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on April 20, 2016 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.

Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”

However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.

That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.

“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”

Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.

Win over Las Palmas again has La Real on edge of CL spot

GETAFE, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11:  Xavi Prieto of Real Sociedad in action during the La Liga match between Getafe CF and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium on December 11, 2015 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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All it took was one mistake. Real Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto capitalized, and has La Real once again on the verge of next year’s Champions League.

La Real finished 7th in 2013/14, and 9th in 2015/16, and this year, they’re closer than ever. Preito’s goal on the mistake by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas gave Real Sociedad the 1-0 road win and has them just a point off a Champions League place.

[ MORE: Antonio Conte pulling from experience to keep Chelsea on top ]

That could be even closer next week, as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid has to welcome Barcelona to the Calderon tomorrow, leaving the door open for La Real to make another move next weekend.

The goal down the stretch is not just to win the games they should, but make the teams above them work. La Real has won seven of their last ten matches, but the three losses came to Real Madrid, Villareal, and Sevilla, all teams fighting at the top of the table. They still have chances down the stretch, with matches against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Eibar coming up, with the latter on the docket next weekend.

Conte pulling from prior experience as title race pushes on

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea looks on during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on February 18, 2017 in Wolverhampton, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte has recalled some painful memories to push himself and his players forward despite their commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Chelsea sits eight points clear of Manchester City, and has the chance to go even further in front with many of the top teams off this weekend, but that won’t give the Italian any better sleep at night.

In the 1999/2000 season, Conte was nearing the end of his 13-year Juventus tenure. He’d won three league titles already, plus two league cup trophies and a Champions League title with the Serie A giants. With a comfortable nine point lead after 26 matches, the club became complacent. They would lose four of their final eight matches, collapsing on the final day in the pouring rain, allowing Lazio to come roaring back to win the title.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks for Week 26 ]

“I was captain of the team,” Conte said. “I remember after this game I must go to the European Championships with the national team. I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.”

Clearly, that still haunts him. “I have experienced this,” Conte continued. “When I continue to repeat that there are 13 games, there are 39 points… there is a long time before we can say we won the title. We must be focused, we must go step by step.”

The Blues host Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday before a trip to West Ham next weekend. If anyone believes the Chelsea players are complacent holding such a significant lead with 13 matches to go, it’s clear that’s not nearly the case. Anything can happen in three months.