When it comes to international soccer, there are few rivalries that match the intensity between the United States and Mexico. These two teams often meet in World Cup qualifying matches, the most recent of which happened Friday at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus is a notable location in this rivalry because that is where the Dos a Cero phenomenon — meaning "2–0" — came about. Entering Friday night’s tilt, the Americans defeated Mexico 2–0 in four straight games at MAPFRE Stadium. In 2013, the United States punched their ticket to the World Cup after defeating El Tri 2–0 for the fourth straight time in Columbus.
Mexico made sure that didn’t happen again on Friday night when Miguel Layun scored in the 20th minute. The U.S. tied the game after a goal from Bobby Wood just minutes after returning from halftime. Later, when the game was minutes away from ending in a draw, Mexico perfectly executed a corner kick, as 37-year-old veteran Rafael Marquez headed it in for the game-winning goal.
This 2–1 loss for the U.S. was just another chapter in this storied rivalry, which started all the way back in 1934. Their first match was held in Rome, where the U.S. was competing for a spot in the World Cup. The Americans downed Mexico, 4–2, in front of 10,000 fans to secure their spot in the second ever FIFA World Cup.
However, the U.S. would not beat Mexico for another 43 years. El Tri made seven World Cups during that period, while the United States only qualified once. The dreadful losing streak finally came to an end in 1980 at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. With Mexico having clinched a spot in the 1982 World Cup and the U.S. not, there wasn’t much to play for, so the Americans put their focus on ending the streak. Behind two goals from Steve Moyers, the Americans won 2–1.
That win signaled a shift in the quality of play in American soccer. After going just 2-22-3 from 1934–1984, the Americans went 3-5-6 from 1985-1999. The United States has improved even more in the 2000’s, as they are 13-6-5 from 2000-present.
Overall, Mexico leads the series 34-18-14, but the Americans have made a tremendous improvement from 30 years ago, when Mexico dominated this rivalry. In fact, the U.S. is 16-11-11 since 1985. As long as the U.S. continues to improve, expect them to continue their progress in this rivalry.
(Photo credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)