Wednesday, September 11, 2013

USA Qualifies For 2014 FIFA World Cup

The United States is heading to Brazil. After defeating arch rival Mexico 2-0 in Columbus last night, the US Men's National Team is headed to its 7th straight World Cup, and 10th overall. The 2-0 scoreline has become a modern legend in the USA-Mexico rivalry, now called "Dos a Cero". That has been the final score of USA victories over Mexico in Columbus, Ohio in 2001, 2005, 2009 and now 2013. The score has also surfaced outside of Columbus - in 2000, 2007 and most famously in the 2002 FIFA World Cup round of 16. Landon Donovan sealed the deal with the US' second goal...complete with an infected eye. Apparently he only needs one eye to score against Mexico. The Dos a Cero was in danger of becoming a Tres a Cero when the USA was awarded a penalty kick, but Clint Dempsey missed a bit wide. Many joked it was intentional to preserve the famous scoreline, but that seems unlikely.

The Dos a Cero is a symbol of the United States' dominance over Mexico in the 21st century, a turning of the tide from when Mexico held the upper hand, during a time when the USA failed to qualify for the World Cup between 1950 and 1990 and Mexico dominated. Times have changed of course, and the US has qualified for every World Cup since 1990.

So far, the following nations have qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup: Brazil, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Iran, Netherlands Italy, USA, Costa Rica & Argentina. You can expect some of the usual suspects like Spain, France, England, & Germany as well. Belgium is also about the qualify, and is my early pick for possible winners of the tournament. Mexico has an uphill battle. There is just one automatic spot left for CONCACAF, and Honduras is leading the way and likely to take it. Mexico & Panama will battle it out for 4th place, and whoever gets that spot will have a playoff against OFC winner New Zealand to see who goes to the World Cup. Mexico last missed the World Cup in 1990.

Landon Donovan, and possibly Damarcus Beasley, will be playing in their fourth World Cups, becoming the first American men to do so. They join some of our legendary women: Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Briana Scurry & Christie Rampone have competed in four, with Abby Wambach likely to join them during the 2015 Women's World Cup. Kristine Lilly is one of the rare soccer players to compete in five World Cups. To have that consistency of veteran players to go with the fresh faces is very important for the development of the team.

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