Columbus, Ohio • The fireworks had gone off and so had the smoke bombs. The red-white-and-blue-clad crowd had finished singing "Dos a cero! Dos a cero!" over and over and over.
The United States had qualified for its seventh straight World Cup, and it was time to look ahead to the draw on Dec. 6 and next year’s tournament in Brazil.
"I feel good about our chances," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "We’ll see what the draw looks like."
America returned to soccer’s top event in 1990 after a 40-year absence, and first-round exits in ‘90, 1998 and 2006 were mixed in with second-round trips in 1994 and 2010, plus a trip to the quarterfinals in 2002.
"It would be nice to do something special," Clint Dempsey said.
The U.S. ensured it will be Brazil-bound after Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan scored second-half goals in the now traditional 2-0 home qualifying win over Mexico on Tuesday night.
"It’s become its own monster. People want to come to Columbus and see U.S.-Mexico. And so it’s almost like the mecca really for us," Howard said. "You almost feel like it’s our destiny to win here."
Noisy American fans stood and sang in Columbus Crew Stadium starting 1½ hours before kickoff, and about 1,000 stayed for an hour after the final whistle. The U.S. needed a win or a tie from Honduras against Panama to clinch with two games to spare, and the American supporters watched on the videoboard as the Catrachos held on for a 2-2 draw.
U.S. players crowded around a television in their locker room, and then sprayed bubbly and came back on the field to celebrate with the fans.
Following wins over Mexico in qualifiers by identical 2-0 scores at Columbus in 2001, 2005 and 2009, the U.S. Soccer Federation picked the same venue for this year’s match. The capacity crowd of 24,584 taunted the Mexicans with chants of "You’re not going to Brazil!"
"I think it really got into Mexico’s head, especially when we scored that first goal. You could see it on Mexico’s face. They were really defeated," American defender Omar Gonzalez said. "From that point on we really took control of the game."Next Page >
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