US soccer looks to clinch World Cup berth

Mexico is its foe — in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Alejandro Bedoya remembered back four years ago, when he walked onto the field with his American teammates to face Mexico at the Rose Bowl and saw the crowd of 93,000-plus.

‘‘A sea of green,’’ the 26-year-old midfielder said, referring to the Mexican jersey color.

While American soccer fans are outnumbered by visiting supporters at many venues, the US team has found a home at cozy Columbus Crew Stadium.


It’s become the traditional site of the Stars & Stripes’ World Cup qualifier against regional rival Mexico following 2-0 victories in 2001, 2005, and 2009. And Tuesday night the Americans hope to emulate their performance of four years ago, when they clinched a Cup berth by beating El Tri.

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‘‘We have history here. And for soccer in our country, that’s not always the case,’’ said midfielder Michael Bradley, who will miss the match because of a sprained left ankle. ‘‘Soccer is still in its growing stages, and so for us to feel like we walk into a stadium and there’s history is a special feeling.’’

Coming off a 3-1 loss Friday at Costa Rica Friday night, the US can assure its seventh straight World Cup appearance with two games to spare if it beats Mexico and Honduras defeats or ties visiting Panama — a game that kicks off about the time the second half gets underway in Columbus.

Costa Rica (4-1-2) leads the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 14 points, one ahead of the US (4-2-1), four in front of Honduras (3-3-1), and six ahead of Mexico (1-1-5). Panama (1-2-4) has seven points. Jamaica (0-4-3) is last.

The top three nations qualify for next year’s 32-nation field in Brazil, and the No. 4 finisher meets New Zealand in a playoff.


Mexico will be playing its first game since coach Chepo De la Torre was replaced by Luis Fernando Tena following Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Honduras at Azteca Stadium.

After this, the Americans play Jamaica at Kansas City, Kan., Oct. 11 and finish four days later at Panama.

‘‘You don’t want to be waiting until the last game and wanting other teams to do you a favor because you’re not able to get the job done,’’ US captain Clint Dempsey said. ‘‘So ideally, we'd like to get that wrapped up as soon as we can.’’

The US is 23-0-2 in home qualifiers since losing to Honduras in September 2001 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and 37-1-7 in qualifiers on American soil since losing to Costa Rica in 1985 at Torrance, Calif.