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Global Sep 11, 2013

Dos a cero, again: U.S. Men defeat Mexico 2-0, qualify for 2014 World Cup

By Charles Boehm

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mark it in pen: The U.S. Men’s National Team beats Mexico 2-0 at Crew Stadium.

For the fourth consecutive time in 12 years, the USMNT defeated their biggest rivals by the exact same scoreline in a World Cup qualifier in front of a sellout crowd at the intimate, noisy home of the Columbus Crew on Tuesday night.

They also officially booked their tickets to Brazil 2014 in the process, thanks to Honduras’ 2-2 home draw vs. Panama later in the evening.

After a poor first half where only the excellent work of goalkeeper Tim Howard kept the U.S. out of a deep hole, the home side came out with fierce energy after the intermission, seizing the lead with a powerful corner-kick header from Eddie Johnson just four minutes after the restart.

That allowed the Yanks to gradually clamp down on the match, with Landon Donovan’s close-range finish of a Mix Diskerud cross sealing the result in the 78th minute.

U.S. captain Clint Dempsey won a penalty kick in injury time, but – whether accidentally or on purpose – fired it wide of the right post to sustain the dos a cero (“two to zero”) storyline which has become a legend, and a signpost of the Yanks’ dominance over their southern neighbors, who are now staring at a tricky road to qualification.

U.S. look nervous and dull in the opening stages, gifting possession and making life needlessly difficult for their back line as El Tri wingers Giovani do Santos and Andres Guardado wreaked havoc early on. A clever bit of Mexican movement carved open a good chance barely two minutes in that required Clarence Goodson to clear deep in his own goal box.

In the 19th minue Howard made huge leaping save on impressive El Tri midfielder Chaco Gimenez, who cut inside on Beasley and curled a left-footed shot towards the far corner of the net.

Four minutes later Mexican winger Giovani dos Santos looked to have broken clear behind the U.S. back line, then took a tumble in the Yanks’ penalty box after Jermaine Jones made a timely recovery run to close him down. But Jamaican referee Courtney Campbell was uninterested in the Mexican attacker’s penalty appeals as play continued.

Eddie Johnson rose highest in the Mexico box on a Yanks corner kick in the 32nd minute and thumped a downward header on target, but netminder Jesus Corona got down to his right quickly to glove the effort nimbly and cleanly on the goalline.

Dos Santos shredded the US defense yet again in the 44th minute and had Howard at his mercy with the ball at his feet inside the box, but his bid for the top corner lacked the necessary power and Howard sprawled to his left to make the save.

And the Yanks goalkeeper was sharp again in the final minutes of the first half as he parried a Diego Reyes header away from the lower left corner of the net at full stretch.

A hamstring injury forced U.S. defender Fabian Johnson to give way to Michael Parkhurst at the start of the second half, but the change did not prevent the home side from starting the second stanza far more brightly than the first.

A few promising buildups hinted at renewed attacking vim before a towering play by Eddie Johnson broke the game open in the 49th minute. With teammates Dempsey and Goodson muscling Mexican defenders out of his path, the Seattle Sounders striker elevated at the near post and nodded another downward header on frame, and this time Corona was nowhere to be found, having rashly left his line in a vain attempt to punch the delivery clear.

The 1-0 advantage boosted the spirits of an already deafening home crowd and spurred on the Yanks.

Mexico interim coach Luis Fernando Tena made three attacking-minded substitutions in an attempt to lift his visibly deflated side, but none could prevent the United States from icing the result in the 78th minute. Diskerud showed a gorgeous bit of skill to swivel in the box with a quick-thinking juggle and reach the endline before sending a low cross through the goalmouth.

A sliding Dempsey got a touch, then Donovan arrived at the back post to poke home in front of the USMNT supporters’ groups massed in Crew Stadium’s north end, sparking delirium and recurring chants of “Dos a cero!” and “We are going to Brazil!”

Dempsey earned, then missed, a late PK after his slaloming run along the endline prompted Jesús Zavala to chop him down, but in an apt summary of how good the night was for the Yanks, the preservation of the 2-0 score likely delighted their fans more than a goal would’ve.

The U.S. can now use next month’s final two qualifiers against Jamaica and Panama to experiment with their roster. Meanwhile Mexico must outpace Panama or Honduras (the latter looks quite unlikely) in the hunt for CONCACAF’s final World Cup slots, with the Hexagonal round’s fourth-place finisher required to face Oceania champion New Zealand in a two-legged playoff next year.

– U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: Sept. 10, 2013
Competition: 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Attendance: 24,584 (sellout)
Weather: 90 degrees, humid

Scoring Summary:   1      2      F
USA                          0      2      2
MEX                          0      0      0

USA – Eddie Johnson (Landon Donovan)               49th minute
USA – Landon Donovan (Clint Dempsey)               78

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson (15-Michael Parkhurst, 46), 21-Clarence Goodson, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 13-Jermaine Jones, 5-Kyle Beckerman; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (19-Graham Zusi, 84), 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.), 10-Landon Donovan; 18-Eddie Johnson (14-Mix Diskerud, 76)
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Brad Guzan, 22-Nick Rimando, 2-Edgar Castillo, 4-Michael Orozco, 6-Joe Corona, 9-Aron Johannsson, 16-Jose Torres, 17-Brad Davis
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

MEX: 1-Jesús Corona (capt.); 21-Hiram Mier, 4-Diego Reyes, 15-Héctor Moreno, 3-Carlos Salcido (8-Ángel Reyna, 77); 7-Christian Giménez (16-Héctor Herrera, 55), 5-Fernando Arce (19-Oribe Peralta, 69), 17-Jesús Zavala, 18-Andrés Guardado; 14-Javier Hernández, 10-Giovani Dos Santos
Substitutions Not Used: 2-Francisco Rodríguez, 9-Raúl Jiménez, 11-Javier Aquino, 12-Jonathan Orozco, 13-Severo Meza, 20-Jorge Torres Nilo, 22-Damián Álvarez, 23-Alfredo Talavera
Head coach: Luis Fernando Tena

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots:  9 / 8
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 7
Fouls: 13 / 9
Offside: 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Alejandro Bedoya (caution)           45+1 minute
USA – Landon Donovan (caution)             85

Referee: Courtney Campbell (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Ricardo Antonio Morgan (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Garnet Page (JAM)
Fourth Official: Valdin Legister (JAM)

U.S. Soccer Man of the Match: Landon Donovan