September 10, 2013
By Michael Lewis
USA moves closer to World Cup berth with yet another 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Somewhere, inside or outside Columbus Crew Stadium, officials should erect a statue with two numbers: 2-0.
|Eddie Johnson scored the game-winning goal against Mexico.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Those are the numbers that will be forever associated with the United States and Mexico when they have played World Cup qualifying matches here.
For an incredible fourth consecutive World Cup cycle, the Americans recorded yet another victory by the same score over their archrivals as they moved a giant step closer to their seventh successive World Cup.
Eddie Johnson scored the game-winner in the 49th minute and Landon Donovan added an insurance goal in the 78th minute. Goalkeeper Tim Howard made two vital saves late in the first half as he recorded the shutout at before an enthusiastic crowd of 24,584 at Columbus Crew Stadium.
The win gave the U.S. (5-2-1) 16 points in the CONCACAF hexagonal while beleaguered Mexico (eight points) fell to 1-2-5 with only two games remaining.
Incredibly, all four World Cup qualifiers that have been played at Crew Stadium have ended in 2-0 scores in favor of the U.S., which also won in 2001, 2005 and 2009.
The Americans could clinch a spot at Brazil 2014 if Honduras tied or defeated Panama in a game that kicked off later on Tuesday night.
The U.S. will host Jamaica in Kansas City, Kansas on Oct. 11, while the Mexicans will be playing for their World Cup lives when Panama visits Estadio Azteca in Mexico City the same night.
The stadium was a sea of red, white and blue with a green shirt or two sprinkled in here and there.
As expected, the Mexicans, desperately needing a win, came out as the aggressors, earning two corner kicks in the opening five minutes but were unable to do much with them.
The American backline played things conservatively as central defender Omar Gonzalez headed a ball back to goalkeeper Tim Howard to keep it away from Mexico and less than a minute later, left back DaMarcus Beasley deflected a cross back to Howard, which looked more like a shot than a defensive maneuver.
Clint Dempsey took the U.S.'s first shot in the 11th minute, from distance, but his attempt sailed well wide left.
Three minutes later, the Americans had another chance. Landon Donovan sent a long free kick into the penalty area that midfielder Jermaine Jones booted well off target.
After a U.S. giveaway at midfield, Howard came up with his first big save in the 19th minute, knocking away Christian Gimenez's 12-yard shot from the right side before the defense cleared the ball out of harm's way.
Surviving the early surge by the visitors, the Americans started to find themselves on attack.
A nifty back heel pass from Eddie Johnson to Dempsey resulted in a shot on goal, but the attempt was blocked and goalkeeper Jose Corona had no problem catching the ball in the 22nd minute.
Jones tried another shot from distance in the 27th minute, but his attempt traveled wide left of the net.
A minute later Dempsey slipped a pass to an open Landon Donovan who launched a shot that was blocked by a Mexican defender before it settled into the arms of Corona.
It was Donovan's turn to play set-up man on a corner kick from the right side as his service found Johnson in front of the goal. The Seattle Sounders forward headed a bullet toward the net, the hosts' best opportunity of the night, but Corona caught his try in the 32nd minute.
Howard came up big time in the final minutes of the opening half. He caught Giovani dos Santos' close-range bullet in the 44th minute and denied defender Diego Reyes with a save that set up a corner kick in stoppage time.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann was forced to make a substitution at halftime as he pulled right back Fabian Johnson, who suffered a strained right hamstring, in favor of Michael Parkhurst.
The U.S. finally broke through in the 49th minute as Johnson scored. Donovan sent a corner kick in the middle of the penalty area and Johnson outjumped Reyes and headed the ball past Corona as the stadium erupted in loud cheers.
The Americans doubled the lead in the 78th minute. Mix Diskerud, who had replaced Eddie Johnson only three minutes prior, penetrated deep on the right side of the penalty area and sent a line-drive cross to Donovan at the far post and the veteran midfielder slotted it home for a two-goal advantage as the stadium erupted again.
Dempsey had an opportunity to boost the lead to three goals in second-half stoppage time, but he booted his penalty kick well wide right. Second later, referee Courtney Campbell of Jamaica blew his whistle twice and the U.S. had a real reason to celebrate.