Dispelling the stigma of “Dos a cero”

Say the words “Dos a cero” to a Mexico fan and watch carefully how they react. See if their eyes start to twitch with irritation or how their hands clench with rage. Watch how they might drop their head and take on a more gloomy demeanor. Better yet, see if they give off a slight chuckle at the thought of another “Dos a cero” loss.

The words “Dos a cero” are words which fans of Mexico’s El Tri are all too familiar with. Talk to a Mexico fan and tell them “Dos a cero” and see if they ask you “which one?” they might ask if you are referring to the 2002 World Cup loss or one of the many other “Dos a cero” scorelines which El Tri fans have suffered at the hands of the United States.

While these descriptions of Mexico fans reacting to the phrase “Dos a cero” might not be entirely accurate, the sentiment felt by fans of El Tri might not be too far from the truth.

The sad fact of the matter is that, at least for Mexico fans, the phrase “Dos a cero” is one which is deeply scarring and one which shakes Mexico fans to the core. Since the “Dos a cero” loss to the United States in the 2002 FIFA World Cup the phrase “Dos a cero” has become somewhat of a running theme, and somewhat of a running joke.

A joke which fans of the United States have no problem making at the expense of their Southern neighbors.

The phrase has become something to be feared, something to be avoided, so much so that it would seem almost preferable, to some, that Mexico lose by 3-2 or 4-3 rather than suffer another “Dos a cero” loss.

Any loss, by almost any reasonable margin, so long as it does not humiliate El Tri, is almost preferable to another “Dos a cero” game.

An end to “Dos a cero”?

Friday’s World Cup qualifying match against the United States will be the first match current Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio will oversee against Mexico’s longstanding rival: The United States. However, Osorio should find his task a little less daunting, though no less difficult, given the number of in form European-based players he will have at his disposal.

Image result for Carlos Vela vs Bilbao
Carlos Vela, who has been somewhat of an outcast, has been recalled by Osorio for World Cup qualifying. (Photo from Fox sports.com)

On paper it would appear as though Mexico has the superior side. However, El Tri has a habit of falling apart at crucial moments of a match, often due to overconfidence. So while it might be true that Mexico has the superior side, El Tri might end up battling against itself in a hostile environment.

In Columbus, Ohio the crowd will be against El Tri, something which might be a tad bit unfamiliar to the players, given the massive hordes of fans which usually fill up stadiums to eagerly cheer on the team.

If Mexico’s stars, Chicharito, Vela, Guardado, and others, play the way Mexico fans know they can then Mexico might have enough in them to get a result and render the phrase “Dos a cero” a thing of the past.

There is no doubt that Mexico has a good side, it might even have the potential to be a great one, but the team will need to be in top form to come away with a result in Columbus. And while European based players might provide an edge of prestige, the real problem Osorio must solve will be how to integrate so many players, from so many different leagues into a unit which moves and plays for each other.

The objective for Mexico and Osorio on Friday night is simple: put an end to the dreaded “Dos a cero” tag which has hung over Mexican heads for more than a decade. And to do that Mexico will need to accomplish one thing: Win.

“El fútbol es nuestro”

In Mexico there is a sort of promotional phrase which is thrown about rather casually to describe the game in the United States. The phrase is simple yet to the point and accurately describes exactly how many Mexicans feel about the U.S. Mexico rivalry.

The phrase means, “fútbol is ours.” However, there is also another, perhaps hidden meaning to the phrase, one which resonates with Mexican supporters. This feeling is one of unrivaled passion for the sport, of course all soccer fans are passionate, but the phrase has a deeper meaning within the context of the U.S.-Mexico rivalry.

What it means is that fútbol is all that matters to the vast majority of Mexicans. It implies that what football, soccer, or fútbol means to the Americans can never reach the same level of meaning as it does for the Mexican soccer fans because, at the end of the day, U.S. soccer fans, and Americans in general, have other sports to distract them if their national side does not fare well.

Mexico captain Andres Guardado perhaps said it best in his tweet before the CONCACAF Cup in 2015:

Image result for el futbol es nuestro

The tweet translates as “For them (Americans) is one more sport, for us (Mexicans) it is everything,” the tweet ends with the statement “fútbol is ours and we are going to reclaim it,”

The phrase touches on the very idea of what exactly soccer means to the vast majority of Americans. To most Americans, the match between them and Mexico might just be another game. Win or lose there is always another sport to pull happiness and joy from, be it American football or basketball or hockey or baseball. However, Mexicans do not have the same luxury, and few would want such a luxury, what it means is that in Mexico fútbol is everything, and that the sport means far more to the average Mexican than it does to the average American.