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.

source: Getty Images
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.

Premier League Preview: Stoke City vs. Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02:  Paul Pogba of Manchester United (L) shoots while Erik Pieters of Stoke City (R) attempts to block the shot during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on October 2, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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  • Man Utd leads all-time 43W-34D-28L
  • Clubs even in last six (2-2-2)
  • Red Devils unbeaten in 16
  • Stoke winners of two-straight

After wins over Sunderland and Watford, Stoke City gets a higher class of opponent on Saturday at the Britannia Stadium (Watch live at 10 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Fortunately for Stoke, it’s had some success against Manchester United in recent years.

Stoke and United drew 1-1 at Old Trafford on Oct. 2, though Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils are flying now. United is hard to break down, and arguably deserved better than the 1-1 draw it earned versus Liverpool last weekend.

Stoke is now 11 points clear of the drop zone, and a win could raise its status to closer to the Top Five than Bottom Three. United, meanwhile, wants three points that would move it to precipice of the Top Four.

 

What they’re saying

Stoke City’s Glenn Whelan on facing United“There has been a wind of change there and the supporters seem a lot happier now and you get the sense that they are together as a group now. You only have to look at the players within the squad, and even the ones who are leaving, to see how much strength in depth they have there.”

Jose Mourinho praises newly-extended Antonio Valencia“I don’t think it is a reward, I don’t see it in this perspective. I just think he is the best right-back you can have. There is no better right-back in football. It is just for us to keep the best. I don’t think it is a reward. It is a privilege for us to have such a good player and such a good man.”

Prediction

United gets it done, only barely. Stoke will put up a brave battle for boss Mark Hughes, but there are too many weapons to suppress. United, 1-0.

AFCON wrap: Results keep Group C undecided

Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony controls the ball on his head during their training session at the Stade Akoakam, Oyem, Gabon, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, ahead of their African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match against Congo. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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Like Group A, Group C in the Africa Cup of Nations has very little decided ahead of the final group stage match.

[ MORE: Guardiola “said goodbye to title” ]

Ivory Coast 2-2 DR Congo

A thrilling first half had DR Congo leading 1-0 and 2-1, with only Wilfried Bony netting for the Ivory Coast. Les Elephants grabbed a draw through Serey Die’s 67th minute goal.

DR Congo now leads the group and is primed to advance with a result against Togo or a Morocco loss or draw against Ivory Coast.

Morocco 3-1 Togo

Mathieu Dossevi gave Togo a surprise fifth minute lead lead, but Aziz Bouhaddouz kickstarted the Moroccan attack to plug the victors into Group C’s second spot ahead of a Jan. 24 showdown with Ivory Coast.

Saturday’s matches

Ghana vs. Mali — 11 a.m. ET
Egypt vs. Uganda — 2 p.m. ET

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Swansea City

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 01:  Jefferson Montero of Swansea City is challenged by Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at The Liberty Stadium on May 1, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
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  • Liverpool leads all-time 22W-8D-10L
  • Swans lost five-straight at Anfield
  • Reds unbeaten in 7 PL matches

One of the Premier League’s top attacks hosts the division’s leakiest defense, as Liverpool may be licking its chops ahead of a visit from struggling Swansea City on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Liverpool has drawn at Sunderland and Manchester United in its last two Premier League outings, and sits seven points back of leaders Chelsea.

Swansea City has allowed multiple goals in five of six PL matches since beating Sunderland 3-0 on Dec. 10. It’s no surprise that they’ve lost those five (the sixth being a 2-1 win at struggling Crystal Palace).

What they’re saying

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on the match“We’re really looking forward to this game. I don’t know when it happened but in England every game now is like a final. Swansea are trying to survive. I don’t know when the title run-in will start, maybe now and we’re in the race. I hope for a special atmosphere tomorrow.”

Swansea City back Federico Fernandez on Liverpool“They are a team that is very strong going forward and that is shown by the number of goals they have scored. If you lose a little bit of focus against these teams then they have the players that will punish you every time. But it’s not only defending strongly when they are attacking, it is also how we keep hold of the ball and how we use it when in possession.”

Prediction

Swansea boss Paul Clement has his hands full, and is grabbing reinforcements in the transfer window (Luciano Narsingh, Martin Olsson, Tom Carroll). That won’t be enough to handle what Liverpool will dish out Saturday, as the Reds break free with a 3-0 win.

Saints’ Fonte moves to West Ham for $10 million

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West Ham has been linked with big name strikers since the summer, but the Irons’ big January transfer to date is a center back.

EURO champion and Southampton mainstay Jose Fonte is moving to London.

[ MORE: West Brom finally sells Berahino ]

Fonte, 33, makes an approximately $10 million move from the South Coast, where the Portuguese back will better Slaven Bilic‘s back line while forcing Southampton to find an answer alongside Virgil Van Dijk.

It’s been a strange trip to London for Fonte and Southampton, detailed by our own Joe Prince-Wright here. Fonte joined Saints during the 2009-10 season, and became a cult hero at St. Mary’s in helping the club move from League One to the Europa League in just over a half-decade.

Something won’t feel right about seeing Fonte in claret and blue, and Saints host West Ham on Feb. 4. Should be quite interesting.