COLUMBUS, OH - The home of the “Dos a Cero” lives up to it’s name. The Columbus Crew Stadium where the United States Men's National Team (USMNT) choose to play their World Cup Qualifying match against their biggest rivals; Mexico every four years proofs to be a wise choice by US Soccer Federation. El Tri has lost to the USMNT by a score of 2-0 on the roads to the 2006 World Cup, 2010 World Cup, and now once again on the road to the 2014 World Cup. Clint Dempsey had a chance to make the score 3-0 with a penalty kick on the last play of the game, but destiny had already chosen the 2-0 score and Dempsey ended up sending his shot well wide.
With the win (plus the Honduras draw) the USMNT have clinched a spot in the FIFA World Cup next year to be hosted in Brazil. With the loss (plus the Panama draw at Honduras) Mexico fall to fifth place in the six team bracket. Only the first three teams qualify to the World Cup automatically while the fourth place finisher plays a playoff series against New Zealand. At the moment Mexico would be completely eliminated, and must win their final two matches to keep their World Cup dreams alive.
Mexico started off the game aggressive and hungry for an early goal. Giovani Dos Santos floated freely from the center to the wide positions combining with Guardado or Gimenez. Chicharito Hernandez seemed to be dropping far into the midfield looking to have touches on the ball to help his team create opportunities, but this would cause him to be away from the place where he is most dangerous; inside the penalty box.
Guardado out on the left wing did not have a good game as he did not look to take on his defender and reach the end line on many occasions. He also missed played a lot of passes. On that left Carlos Salcido also did not have a good game as he did not have the legs to run up the field from his left-back position and help out in the attack.
The game went scoreless into halftime as Mexico tried to attack without any clear ideas on how and the USMNT soaked up the pressure and played with the desperation of their rivals. Early in second half Eddie Johnson took advantage of a huge mistake from Mexican goalkeeper Jesus Corona who tried to punch away a corner kick, but was beaten to the ball by Johnson. This gave the USMNT the 1-0 lead and killed all morale in the Mexican side.
New (Interim) manager Luis Fernando Tena sent in very aggressive substitutions to look for the equalizing goal in order to salvage a point from this game. But it would be Landon Donovan who in the 78th minute who found the back of the net to put up the now famous scoreline.
In the 94th minute of play on the final play of the game Mexican midfielder Jesus Zavala committed a harsh tackle on a USMNT forward and the Jamaican referee awarded the penalty kick. Clint Dempsey stepped up and sent his shot high and wide off of the fram of goal and with that maintained the 2-0 score. Referee blew the final whistle after the missed penalty.
Mexico will now have to win at home in October when they receive Panama’s visit. It will all be on the line for both teams as both fight for that fourth spot which earns them a playoff series against New Zealand for a World Cup ticket.