The game will mark the third consecutive home World Cup qualifier to be sold out. In addition to the two matches at Columbus Crew Stadium, the U.S. defeated Guatemala on September 3, 2000, in front of a capacity crowd of 51,996 fans at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
The sell-out guarantees a crowd of more than 24,000 for the match (7:30 p.m. ET / ESPN2), which is the first in the USA's 10-game final round qualifying trek to the 2002 FIFA World Cup. About 100 fans braved Columbus' 30-degree temperature in the morning to buy tickets in person at the Crew Stadium Box Office, but a majority of the seats were purchased by phone.
The game marks the USA's second trip to Columbus Crew Stadium in their attempt to qualify for an unprecedented fourth straight World Cup. In their last qualifier, the U.S. battled Costa Rica to a 0-0 draw in the semifinal round before an overflow, pro-American crowd of 24,430 on October 11, 2000.
Columbus Crew Stadium, the first major-league stadium built specifically for soccer in the United States, has a capacity of 22,555 and opened on May 15, 1999. The south end-zone seating installed for the match against Costa Rica will also be in place for the Mexico contest, bringing the stadium's capacity for the game to more than 24,000.
Since 1982, the U.S. and Mexico have met just twice in World Cup qualifying, a 2-2 draw in Foxboro, Mass., on April 20, 1997, and 0-0 draw in Mexico City on Nov. 2, 1997. However, the Americans have had the upper hand in the rivalry recently, topping the Mexicans in consecutive shutouts in 2000.
In the final round of World Cup Qualifying each team will play the other five teams in a home-and-home series, and the top three teams advance to Korea/Japan 2002. The U.S. will play two matches in preparation of the USA-Mexico showdown, with the team's opening game of 2001 scheduled for Jan. 27 against China in Oakland (2:30 p.m. PT / ESPN2 & Telemundo). One week later the U.S. will square off against Colombia on Feb. 3 in Miami (4 p.m. ET / ESPN2 & Telemundo).