The U.S. men’s national team has no “national stadium” like some other countries. But if there’s one place that serves as its spiritual home, as its most important ground, it’s Columbus. That might sound strange – a mid-market Midwestern city with a stadium that barely seats 25,000? Really? But then you look at the record. The U.S is unbeaten (W8 D3 L0) in Columbus, outscoring opponents 19–1. Here’s a look back how MAPFRE Stadium (née Crew Stadium) became the USMNT’s most impenetrable fortress.
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USA vs. Costa Rica – October 20, 2000
The U.S. first played at Crew Stadium in a 2002 World Cup qualifier against the Ticos, 17 months after it opened as the first soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer. The game ended in a scoreless draw, but the place was sold out and delivered a phenomenal atmosphere that got coach Bruce Arena and his team’s attention.
USA vs. Mexico – February 28, 2001
The match that started the legend of “Dos A Cero.” When it came time for the U.S. to pick the home site for the 2002 World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico, Bruce Arena lobbied for Columbus, banking on the Midwestern winter cold to prove an additional advantage against Mexico. Check! El Tri never got comfortable and fell 0-2 on goals from Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart. The press back home famously labeled it “La Guerra Fria,” or “The Cold War.”
USA vs. Ecuador – June 7, 2001
Pablo Mastroeni was one of four Americans who earned their first cap for the national team in this tune-up match ahead of World Cup qualifying. It ended 0-0.
USA vs. Paraguay – July 6, 2003
Landon Donovan scored his 10th international goal to give the U.S. an early lead, Earnie Stewart scored another in the 90th minute, and the defense posted their fourth straight shoutout in Columbus.
USA vs. Grenada – June 13, 2004
DaMarcus Beasley scored his first career brace for the USMNT in a 3-0 win against the CONCACAF minnows to open World Cup qualifying.
USA vs. Jamaica – November 17, 2004
Jamaica’s Ian Goodison made history by becoming the first (and to date, only) player to score against the USMNT in Columbus. But Brian Ching scored an 88th-minute equalizer for the U.S. to deny Jamaica a victory in the opening game of the third round of World Cup qualifying. It’s the closest the U.S. has ever come to losing in Columbus.
USA vs. Mexico – September 3, 2005
The USMNT elected to return to Columbus for their key home qualifier against Mexico again, hoping to continue the good vibes from four years earlier. Good choice. It may not have been freezing on this night, but the U.S. beat Mexico again, dos a cero to clinch a spot in the 2006 World Cup. Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley were the scorers.
USA vs. Mexico – February 11, 2009
By the 2010 World Cup qualifying cycle, Crew Stadium had already entrenched itself as the home-field advantage for the USMNT, and the psychological edge had also been established. Before the game, the Mexican press called Crew Stadium the “Casa del Terror,’ and it lived up to it once again. Same result, same score. Michael Bradley scored both goals.
USA vs. Jamaica – September 11, 2012
The Reggae Boyz had beaten the U.S. in their first meeting of the 2014 World Cup qualifying cycle, and another draw or loss to Jamaica would have put the U.S. under immense pressure to qualify for the Hex. Good thing this one was played in Columbus. Hercules Gomez scored on a lovely free kick for a 1-0 win.
USA vs. Mexico – September 10, 2013
The fourth and most recent meeting with Mexico in Columbus ended like the previous three – Dos A Cero. Landon Donovan scored his final goal in a USMNT shirt after Eddie Johnson got the party started shortly after halftime, and Clint Dempsey missed a stoppage-time penalty to preserve the famous scoreline. The win qualified the U.S. for the World Cup in Brazil with two games to spare.
USA vs. Guatemala – March 29, 2016
After Guatemala stunned the U.S. four days earlier in Guatemala City, Jurgen Klinsmann’s team was again under immense pressure to get a result and stay on course for the Hex. And like four years prior against Jamaica, the U.S. delivered in Columbus, running away with a comprehensive 4-0 victory to get back on track.