clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The History of Dos a Cero

Can the USMNT make it five in a row?

The History of Dos a Cero


Posted by Stars and Stripes FC on Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dos a Cero has become an unofficial nickname of sorts for the United States vs. Mexico game and rivalry. A new addition was made on Nov. 12, 2021 when the USA beat Mexico 2-0 at Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium in a World Cup qualifier. It was the fifth time in six World Cup qualifiers played in Ohio, but it has actually been the most common scoreline in the series. There have been 14 games out of 73 total in the U.S. vs. Mexico rivalry that have ended with 2-0 on the scoreboard.

The first was on March 12, 1965 at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario in Mexico City which saw the hosts redeem themselves after a surprising 2-2 draw five days earlier in Los Angeles. The match was part of qualifying for the 1966 World Cup.

Two friendlies at the Estadio Azteca saw the scoreline repeated in 1973 and in 1975.

The U.S. truly ignited the rivalry with their first 2-0 win on July 5, 1991 in the first Gold Cup semifinal. Goals by John Doyle & Peter Vermes led the Americans to a shocking win that many see as the true turning point when the U.S. believed that they were equals with Mexico. The win was only the third in the overall series for the U.S. dating back to 1934.

Mexico earned their third and final 2-0 win over the U.S. on January 19, 1997 at the U.S. Cup at the Rose Bowl. That tournament was a major disappointment for the U.S. as they were headed into the final round of qualifying for the 1998 World Cup, it was also the first time Mexico defeated the U.S. on American soil since 1974.

The U.S. notched another 2-0 on October 25, 2000 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in front of 61,072. This match is a famous one as it was Landon Donovan’s national team debut and he scored to mark the occasion.

The true history of the Dos a Cero result started on Feb. 28, 2001 in La Guerra Fria at the Columbus Crew Stadium in a World Cup qualifier. Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart were the goalscorers. The win marked the first time the U.S. won three straight over Mexico and the first win in World Cup qualifying against Mexico since 1980.

Andrew Das of the New York Times had some great background about how Columbus made this game work and how they went about selling it.

The scoreline was forever marked in history by the greatest U.S. win over Mexico at the 2002 World Cup in the Round of 16. Jeonju, South Korea was the host for the legendary win that saw Brian McBride and Landon Donovan score to eliminate Mexico from the World Cup and send the U.S. to their first quarterfinal appearance.

The next U.S. 2-0 win in a 2005 World Cup qualifier, again at Columbus Crew Stadium. Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley scored the goals that sealed qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The next time the rivals clashed also saw a 2-0 win for the U.S. in a friendly at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. This game is primarily remembered for Landon Donovan’s late goal that sealed it.

The next time the foes met in World Cup qualifying saw a familiar scoreline in a familiar venue. Feb. 11, 2009 saw Michael Bradley score twice for the U.S. to defeat El Tri.

Landon Donovan scored and assisted Eddie Johnson’s goal in his U.S. vs. Mexico swan song in 2013. The win sent the U.S. to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and saw Mexico nearly fail to qualify. The biggest question here was whether Clint Dempsey intentionally missed a late penalty attempt to keep the scoreline at 2-0.

Jordan Morris scored in his first start with the national team in a friendly win in San Antonio in 2015.

The latest addition to Dos a Cero was particularly important, as it allowed the USA to erase memories of their 2-1 loss to Mexico in their 2016 meeting that ultimately heralded the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The 2-0 win on Nov. 12, 2021 saw the USA dominate much of the game, getting their just scoreline with two second-half goals. The first came from Christian Pulisic and that was followed by a Weston McKennie goal shortly thereafter that marked the first time in history that the USA had beaten Mexico three times in a calendar year (they beat them in the Nations League and Gold Cup finals by less iconic scorelines).

Although this last meeting was moved to Cincinnati from Columbus, it appears the magic of Ohio remains reasonably strong.

Note: This story was first published on Nov. 9, 2016 and was updated on Nov. 16, 2021.