U.S. Soccer
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US Soccer

Soccer 101: The History of USA vs. Mexico

Despite being North American neighbors, the first meeting between the United States and Mexico actually took place on the other side of the Atlantic. Played on May 24, 1934 in Rome, the game was a one-off match – essentially the USA’s first World Cup qualifier – for the right to play in the second FIFA World Cup, which was set to kick off days later in venues across Italy.

Playing in front of 10,000 spectators, including Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, the Americans rode a four-goal performance from Aldo “Buff” Donelli to defeat Mexico 4-2 and earn a place in the 16-team field at the 1934 FIFA World Cup.

 

You would hope the 11 players that came away victorious that day cherished the memory in Rome, because as big as the result was, it would take another 46 years before the USA would defeat Mexico again.


Though 17 of those 24 matches were played on Mexican soil, that winless streak against our neighbors to the south is by far the longest against any one opponent in team history, both in terms of number of games and years,. It fortunately ended on Nov. 23, 1980, when the U.S. used a pair of goals from Steve Moyers to defeat Mexico 2-1 in another Qualifying match, this time for the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

 

With Mexico already booking its ticket to the next round of Qualifying and the USA already eliminated, from a competitive standpoint, the match was meaningless. However, whether or not they realized it, the 2,126 fans in attendance at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium witnessed history that night, and to this day are among the few Americans that saw the USA’s 43-year winless streak against Mexico come to an end.

Though the USA and Mexico met only once more during the decade, the dam had been cracked. With 1990 marking the MNT’s first appearance in the World Cup in 40 years, the 1980s also served as a transitional phase in the rivalry with Mexico as a new generation of American players began to reap the benefits of greater emphasis on the game here at home to lay the foundation for future triumphs.

The first in a series of successes came during the semifinals of the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Led by former Mexico head coach Bora Milutinovic, the USA used second-half strikes from John Doyle and Peter Vermes to stun El Tri 2-0 in front of a pro-Mexico crowd of 41,103 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and went on to win the tournament’s inaugural title.

WATCH: USA Defeats Mexico 2-0 in 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinal

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MNT May 24, 2017
US Soccer

Josh Wolff and the Spark that Set the Dos a Cero Fire

Originally published on October 6, 2015. When the schedule for the Final Round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup came around, the U.S. Soccer Federation had a different idea. Drawn to play rivals Mexico first, and in February no less, U.S. Soccer decided to try and maximize home-field by taking advantage of the new phenomenon in the American game – the soccer specific stadiu Read more
MNT Oct 18, 2016

Gallery: 2001 - Dos a Cero Begins

The FIFA World Cup Qualifier on Feb. 28, 2001 between the USA and Mexico before a raucous crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio saw the USA beat their arch-rival 2-0 to start the "dos a cero" trend that would become so memorable over the next decade. Read more
MNT Sep 19, 2016

U.S. Opens Final Qualifying Round With 2-0 Win Over Mexico at Frigid, Sold-Out Crew Stadium

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Wednesday, February 28, 2001) - Important first-half substitute Josh Wolff had a goal and assist to help the U.S. Men's National Team open their final round of World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 defeat of Mexico tonight in front of a sold-out crowd of 24,624 chilly fans at Columbus Crew Stadium. Wolff, who earned Chevrolet Man of the Match honors for his performance off the bench, Read more
MNT Feb 28, 2001
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