USMNT Report: Dos a Cero Rerun Earns US a World Cup Berth

The US grabs yet another ‘dos a cero’ victory versus Mexico and qualification to the 2014 World Cup
by Herb Scribner   |   Wednesday, September 11, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

All throughout the week, the United States Men’s National Team was surrounded by the historical phrase: dos a cero.

The phrase, which is part fact and part folklore, refers to the familiar 2-0 results the USA continues to grab over Mexico in Columbus Crew Stadium. It happened in 2001, 2005 and 2009.

And by the end of the night, fans of the USMNT chanted the phrase over and over as the USA once again toppled Mexico 2-0 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio.

But that’s not the only reason to celebrate as even more went right for the USA on the night. After Honduras drew Panama, the Americans officially qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

POST-GAME REACTIONS: USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann said qualifying for the World Cup in Columbus was an ideal scenario for the USA.

“We wanted to get this done as quickly as possible,” Klinsmann said. “We were upset with Costa Rica, how it ended, but we couldn’t change it anymore. Once they scored that third goal it was done. It is important, and it makes a lot of things easier for us on the Federation’s side to plan things ahead. We can finalize things for Brazil, we can look at friendly games in November, so it’s definitely important.”

Klinsmann also praised Landon Donovan for his efforts against Mexico and highlighted how hard he worked to get back in the starting A squad.

“We’ve always said that Landon is an important part of our team,” Klinsmann said. “The things that he went through were his decision. We were totally fine with that, but he also had to understand that he wasn’t getting anything for granted. He had to work his way back, to fight his way back, and that’s what he did. In the Gold Cup to start with, and now coming here, he understands the message that nobody has a spot guaranteed. It all comes down to performance. Every game is down to performance.”

MAN OF THE MATCH: Landon Donovan – It’s no question that Donovan controlled much of this game for the United States. His flashing runs down the wings, coupled with his brilliantly-timed strike to put the US up 2-0, show he’s the most crucial cog in the system, and is a much-needed asset for the Americans as they near Brazil 2014.

ANALYSIS: The party has started – the United States has qualified.

But it doesn’t feel like it. Throughout the Hexagonal qualification phase, the USA has drifted between success and failure. Even during the Gold Cup this summer, Klinsmann’s squad’s dominating performances were clouded with doubt about the level of the competition and the fact that it was a mostly B Team laden tournament for everyone, including the US. Players also disappeared and the Americans often dragged themselves to the finish line, though they took home the top prize.

Last night’s match with Mexico showed the USA performing at a top level, for all the marbles and versus the best competition this region has to offer. The Yanks consistently made connections through the midfield and made serious runs up the field to form attacks. The defense wasn’t ever truly tested by Mexico, save for a couple of moments – specifically when Omar Gonzalez was burned on a run and another when goalkeeper Tim Howard had to stretch himself out to save a sure goal by Giovani Dos Santos

Everything turned when Eddie Johnson – seemingly the hungriest man in North American soccer currently – headed in the ball for his 12th goal in his last 21 World Cup Qualifiers. He’s been great for the USA in all competitions. If he’s brought to Brazil, Klinsmann should have him as the USA’s super sub as his speed, agility and ability to head the ball could come in handy in dying minutes.

Mix Diskerud played very well in the few minutes he got as a substitute. His assist to Donovan for the 2nd goal of the game was excellently sent in. Diskerud, in just the little time he played, outshined Jermaine Jones, who started as one of the defensive midfielders but was completely absent. Kyle Beckerman did well in his return to the starting lineup and was a great anchor for the United States.

Due to the recent managerial shakeup by Mexico and USA’s subpar match versus a rising Costa Rica squad – this was never going to be a normal match between the CONCACAF big boys. Games with Mexico are usually tight affairs, but after things opened up, the USA controlled everything and eliminated El Tri completely.

Now that the Americans have qualified, Klinsmann has a perfect opportunity to test his players even more. Playing CONCACAF minnows will be fine to warm up the Yanks, but the USMNT can surely develop its game by playing some of the bigger fish – like Spain, which the US is reportedly lining up for a match in the fall. Another rematch with the dynamic young Belgium team would be welcomed, as they are many pundits’ darkhorse contenders to make a run in the World Cup.

It wouldn’t hurt for Klinsmann to find a South American country to face on the road, giving the Americans the added experience of playing in an away atmosphere that’ll be slightly similar to Brazil.

With the ticket punched and the US on its way to the coveted 2014 World Cup finals, everything is about preparation. The tinkering and testing Klinsmann is prone to doing shouldn’t end here. Because positive results and mood aside, come tomorrow the frank realization is that right now the USA is nowhere near ready to make a serious run at the World Cup. Despite all of the optimism and accompanying hype this summer, the team still doesn’t have that big-time feel and can lose as easily as it wins.

For now, the Americans can and should revel in their victory and cheer for another ‘dos a cero.’ But if the party lasts too long, the party about a year from now won’t be as jubilant.

NEXT UP: October 11 – World Cup Qualifier: United States vs. Jamaica, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kans. 6:30 p.m. EST, ESPN, UniMas.


UMass Amherst
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SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.