Waiting for Wednesday: Looking back on the best U.S. moments versus Mexico

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It’s a rivalry that doesn’t require a title other than the combatants: United States and Mexico.

The two sides have paired off 65 times. Until recently, it’s been all about Mexico. El Tri boasts a 33W-14D-18L record, outscoring the States by a 131-73 margin.

Lest we forget Mexico started this series with an 0-1 record before going unbeaten in the next 24 (21W-3D). Since then, the USMNT boasts a 17W-11D-12L advantage.

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Five matches have passed since El Tri’s last win, the 4-2 clobbering of the Yanks in the 2011 Gold Cup final. The U.S. has three draws to go with a pair of wins, one of those a history-making 1-0 win at Azteca in 2012.

Will that make our list of the best USMNT moments during this rivalry (What? You thought we’d include one of the 33 Mexican wins)?

You betcha.

1934 — World Cup qualifier

You may’ve not read the name Aldo Donnelli before this moment, but the Pennsylvania native scored all four goals as the States won the first recorded match against Mexico, and it was a big one. The winner would go on to the 1934 tournament in Italy, while the loser would go on a tour of European friendlies. The States won, and wouldn’t win again until the qualifiers for the 1982 tournament.

2012 — First win at Azteca

It may’ve been a friendly, but Michael Orozco’s finish will go down as the Yanks’ first ever winner in the fortress of Mexico City.

1980 — World Cup qualifier

It follows that that aforementioned win rates on our list. Though it meant little to the Yanks’ fate in the 1982 tournament — the U.S. finished last in a group with Mexico and Canada — it was the first win over El Tri in 46 years. Hugo Sanchez scored for Mexico, but Steve Moyers sandwiched goals around it to give the USMNT a 2-1 win in Florida.

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2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 — “Dos a Cero” x 4

There is no more celebrated score line in USMNT history than the 2-0 hurting it put on Mexico in four successive home World Cup qualifiers. I’ll choose to spotlight one that remains among my favorite sporting memories: the 2009 CONCACAF qualifier. Crew Stadium in Columbus was the venue, swapped Canadian for Mexican beers was the pregame currency of exchange, and a pouring rain and vicious wind made the victory that much more memorable.

A pair of Michael Bradley goals and an awful Rafa Marquez challenge/red card led to the W:

2002 — World Cup Round of 16

Say what you will for the other “Dos a Cero” matches, but none will touch this one in my mind (and I wasn’t even there).

Mexico entered the tournament as the 7th ranked nation in the world, and needed just a draw with Italy to win Group G. The States were 13th, and limped into the knockout rounds after a 3-1 loss to Poland was offset by South Korea’s upset of Portugal.

Goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan prodded the dream forward, as the USMNT carried a feel of destiny through its best World Cup, until its cruel defeat at the hands of Torsten Frings and mighty Germany in the quarters.

The United States and Mexico tangle on Wednesday at the Alamodome.