Dos a Cero.
The Spanish phrase that means “two to zero.” I’m assuming that if you clicked on this post, and are therefore a visitor of 32 Flags, the phrase has meaning to you. It’s the magical phrase signifying the scoreline for the last four US home World Cup qualifying matches against Mexico as well as the scoreline of the only match the two CONCACAF rivals have ever played during the actual World Cup.
It’s a phrase that, and again I’m assuming that since you have come to 32 Flags you are searching for coverage of the USMNT, you have undoubtedly seen over and over again as the two teams get set to square off in the first game of the Hex Friday night.
And while the phrase “Dos a Cero” is something that inspires patriotism and excitement among US fans, as well as psychological fear in the heads of both the Mexican players and fans, it’s a phrase that needs to disappear immediately.
That’s right. As in the heads of the Mexicans the Dos a Cero scoreline might be, it’s a phrase that could certainly end up hurting the Americans if we keep over-hyping it.
As the game gets closer and closer, you can hardly turn your head without seeing “Dos a Cero.” It’s on twitter, it’s mentioned in every USMNT beat writer’s stories, Fox ran Dos A Cero commercials during the World Series. While the fault certainly lies with everyone for overpromoting this scoreline as if the result of this game is a foregone conclusion, a lot of the blame lies at home with US Soccer.
Over the past few months, it seems like US Soccer has stopped being a soccer organization and has become a marketing company. There’s nothing that US Soccer would like more then to win Friday’s game by the 2-0 scoreline. Then you can sell shirts boasting about the five straight Dos A Cero’s. You can’t sell those shirts if you win 3-1.
But the past two weeks have been overkill. US Soccer is practically trying to sell this week as “Dos a Cero” week. Officially they’re calling it “Facebook Live” week, where they are having current and former players conduct Facebook Live chats where they are discussing their personal Dos a Cero moments. It’s beyond overkill.
Social media has certainly played a massive role in the Dos a Cero phrase spreading like wildfire. In the weeks leading up to the US-Mexico match four years ago, you would have hardly known that the US had beaten Mexico 2-0 in their three previous meetings. After all in 2009, Twitter was barely a thing. But after it happened again in 2013, Twitter was very much a thing, and the hashtag immediately took off with fans boasting about #DosACero whenever the US got ready to play Mexico.
This included fans celebrating #DosACero after the US defeated Mexico in an April 2015 friendly, one that wasn’t on a FIFA fixture date where Mexico was missing most of their top players. Newsflash, attaching the #DosACero hashtag to any US-Mexico game that’s not a home World Cup Qualifier doesn’t make sense, because more often than not, the US doesn’t win 2-0. In fact, in the two most important US-Mexico games that took place in America over the last five years, it was Mexico who came out victorious (2011 Gold Cup Final and the 2015 CONCACAF Cup).
If you think this doesn’t have an effect on the players, think again. In injury time of the 2013 World Cup qualifier, the US was awarded a penalty. On virtually the last kick of the ball, Clint Dempsey sent the penalty into the stands, preserving the Dos a Cero scoreline. Following the aforementioned April friendly, several young players spoke about how exciting it was to take part in another chapter of #DosACero, even though this was just a friendly where Mexico were missing several of their stars.
And that’s exactly what there is to be afraid of.
Missing a penalty in the dying seconds is one thing. No one is arguing that it would have any effect on the match. But it certainly shows that Dos a Cero is very much on the mind of American players.
What if the US goes up 2-0 in the 54th minute? With Dos a Cero chants ringing around the stadium in Columbus would the players subconsciously take their foot off the gas? It wouldn’t be the first time a Klinsmann team got a lead and then sat back and stopped attacking. It’s not a stretch to say US fans would almost certainly preserve a 2-0 win that preserves the allure of Dos a Cero over a 4-0 victory in this game. After all, Quatro a Cero just doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I would like more than going to the bar with a bunch of US supporters and watching the boys pick up a 2-0 win while we chant Dos a Cero at the Mexican supporters. I’d simply like nothing more than the phrase to go away for now, so the team can focus on simply winning a game, rather than deal with the added pressure of trying to win by the perfect scoreline.