One of international soccer’s ‘best’ rivalries coming to Cincinnati

United States' Christian Pulisic (10) kicks a penalty kick for a goal against Mexico during extra time in the CONCACAF Nations League championship soccer match, Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Caption
United States' Christian Pulisic (10) kicks a penalty kick for a goal against Mexico during extra time in the CONCACAF Nations League championship soccer match, Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Credit: Jack Dempsey

Credit: Jack Dempsey

U.S. Men’s National Team will host Mexico at TQL Stadium

Cincinnati isn’t getting just any World Cup qualifier. ‘Dos a Cero’ is coming to the Queen City.

FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium will serve as the site of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s fourth home match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, a rivalry game against Mexico on Nov. 12. The match, which marks the first international event at the newly opened TQL Stadium, will be broadcast live on the ESPN and Univision family of networks, with kickoff time to be determined.

This is the first time a U.S. city other than Columbus will host a U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup qualifier against Mexico since 1997 when it was played in Foxborough, Mass. Tickets go on sale Monday.

“When you talk about great rivalries in our sport, USA-Mexico is one of the best,” U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a press release sent by US Soccer. “We are fortunate to have so many great venue options in this country, and for this match Cincinnati ticks all the boxes.”

“This is a special game that requires a special atmosphere, and we know it’s one that Cincinnati will provide.”

The most anticipated game in the region every four years, this is the sixth-consecutive time the state of Ohio has hosted the USA-Mexico qualifier, and these meetings have produced some of the most significant moments in U.S. Soccer history in a rivalry that dates back to 1934.

While Mexico had historically dominated the series, competition between the teams has grown into a proper rivalry since 2000 during which time the U.S. has held the edge, amassing a record of 15-9-6 against its neighbors to the south. The most important meeting in the modern era came at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan in the Round of 16.

The epic encounters continued last month when the USMNT was crowned champion of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League after twice coming from behind to defeat Mexico 3-2 in a match that required 30 minutes of overtime to determine a winner.

Since 2000, the series is an even 4-4-2 in World Cup Qualifying contests.

“It’s huge, it’s one of the biggest rivalries in the sport of football,” former USMNT player DaMarcus Beasley told reporters at a press conference to announce the game location. “… Every player wants to play in that game. It’s somewhat indescribable because you feel the buzz. You don’t need motivation to play that game. You just get up because it’s Mexico.”

The rivalry when played in Columbus often ended in 2-0 win for the U.S., hence the ‘Dos a Cero’ nickname it took on for American soccer fans. In fact that was the result in four straight meetings at Columbus Crew’s former stadium in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013. Mexico won the last matchup in a World Cup qualifier in 2016, 2-1 in Columbus. The U.S. did not qualify for the last World Cup in 2018.

Beasley said it was fitting for the game to remain in Ohio, if not in Columbus.

“First off, Columbus was great to U.S. Soccer,” Beasley said. “I have very fond memories of playing in Columbus, even as a U-17 kid. That was our first soccer-specific stadium in America so it’s always going to have a special place in my heart, with U.S. Soccer I’m sure as well, but for it to stay in Ohio, it’s great. You guys have built a beautiful stadium. It’s an amazing stadium so I’m happy to see it stay in Ohio, I’m happy to see it in the Midwest because like I said I’m from Indiana. I will be at the game, so I’m excited to be in the stands with the fans in Cincinnati and hopefully the boys get a good result and win.”

The USMNT will play Costa Rica on Oct. 13 in a World Cup qualifier at Lower.com Field in Columbus, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

FC Cincinnati won’t be new to hosting U.S. Soccer games. The club welcomed the women’s team for a friendly against New Zealand in September of 2017 and hosted the men’s team for a friendly against Venezuela in June 2019. Both games were played at Nippert Stadium, where grass had to be laid over the turf to provide a proper playing surface. That won’t be the case with the grass pitch at TQL Stadium, which holds 26,000 fans.

Cincinnati also is among the final candidate to host games for the 2026 World Cup, but matches for that would take place at Paul Brown Stadium if the city selected. Hosting a qualifier is the next big step in that direction.

“This match is the culmination of years of planning and hard work,” FC Cincinnati president Jeff Berding said in a statement. “We had a vision to build a stadium that was not only home to FC Cincinnati matches, but also a premier destination for world-class events. This is one of the biggest matches in North America, and we are proud to play host to all of the fans that will be in attendance.”