Every four years the United States hosts Mexico in a World Cup Qualifier in Columbus, Ohio.
Every four years the United States wins this game 2-0, or Dos a Cero.
It’s also a tradition that’s taken on somewhat of a music festival or gathering vibe in recent years. For a day or two it’s the epicenter of soccer in America. There are drum circles — for use to enhance chants/songs during the game. There’s a lot of heady talk about the future of the Federation, where it’s come from and where it’s going. It’s a place where a bro can talk about Jurgen Klopp’s high-pressing system at Borussia Dortmund and not worry about anyone getting laughed at. If you asked 100 different people gathered for game about MLS, you’d get 100 different answers.
Above all there’s a lot of the color red everywhere.
One of the nice things about Crew Stadium is it was built on the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Unlike many of the second-wave of soccer stadiums this one wasn’t built for light rail access for hip young professionals on the go. There is ample space to properly tailgate in the sun, pose for pictures with fans wearing lucha libre masks and, above all, have a good time.
Part of the day’s festivities is a trip into the stadium, err, march. This is to show the U.S.A. is here. In the building. This is OUR house.
This particular video above is a nice cross section of U.S. Soccer fandom, or at least the portion that rabidly follows the team around the country as if it were, sorry to date myself, Phish Tour. Here’s some of my favorite people.
- Woman in shirt patterned after a picnic table cloth.
- Guy dressed up like George Washington. (Did he wear wooden teeth to complete the look?)
- A dude in, to me, looked liked a vintage WWF logo t-shirt.
- The bro in the full kit, as in shirt, shorts and socks.
- Lots and lots of scarves on a 90+ degree, humid day. Wise.
I lost track of the people filming it on their phones. There were also simply too many bandannas to count.
Part of me wonders, were I to buy a ticket for the game, would they let me inside wearing my normal street clothes and or minimal pieces of USMNT flair?
Ok, please don’t get upset fans. I kid. I kid.
It wasn’t all that long ago when a U.S. game vs. Mexico — or most opponents for that matter — on American soil would play like a road match. It was the work people behind the Sam’s Army group, regular old fans of soccer and later the American Outlaws that make stuff like what happened in Columbus Tuesday night … or Seattle, or Kansas City or Salt Lake or Philadelphia or many places across the U.S. a reality. There’s a reason the U.S. will be one of the best supported teams in Brazil next June.
The way we’ve gone, in the last decade, where soccer was still met with the same, tired, refrains of “its so boring” or “play a real sport” etc. to where it is now, — an event people actively want to pay good money to attend — is remarkable. We can talk about the reasons: cable television, social media, youth soccer, FIFA video games, on another day.
All I know the support for the National Team is real, the passions run deep. It’s another sign of the sport’s continued growth that there’s enough support out there we can all have a laugh at all the crunchy fans vibing out to chants of Dos a Cero on a warm Midwestern September night.