The World Cup qualifier promises to be one of THE events of Columbus' autumn sports season.

Columbus will once again be the center of soccer in America in a few short weeks. For the fourth time at Crew Stadium, the United States men's soccer team will face off against bitter rival Mexico with a place in the World Cup on the line. The best soccer players from both countries will face off in the most hotly contested game in the region.

 

The Americans track record against Mexico in Columbus is sterling. Three games played, three 2-0 wins. The U.S. defeated “El Triâ” in the bitter cold of an Ohio winter in 2001, a game that was dubbed “La Guerra Friaâ.” The Mexicans, unused to temperatures in the 20s and surrounded by a rowdy pro U.S. crowd, lost to the U.S. in a World Cup Qualifier for the first time since 1980. The Americans duplicated the feat in 2005 and 2009. The scoreline has even created a phrase. "Dos-a-Cero" has spurred supporters' chants and t-shirts to celebrate the U.S. success in Columbus.

 

Legendary German forward turned head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has the U.S. playing like a well oiled-machine. World Cup veterans Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley have been joined by a new wave of talent. At 23, Jozy Altidore looks ready to fulfill his mammoth promise. He's scored in a U.S. record five straight games. German-American Fabian Johnson, Floridian Graham Zusi and Kansan Matt Besler have impressed as they've been given the chance to start under Klinsmann.

 

It's not only the action on the field that makes the game special. The game has turned into a major event for soccer fans across the country. In 2009, fans came from 47 states to watch the game. This year's game sold out before tickets went on sale to the general public. Demand was so high that U.S. Soccer added temporary seating for the match. Crew Stadium's official capacity is 20,500. Over 24,000 people will pack the stands and U.S. Soccer said they could have sold twice as many tickets. The atmosphere is electric.

 

Even if you missed out on the ticket lottery or are unwilling to pay upward of $400 a ticket to a scalper, there are still plenty of ways to join in the celebration. U.S. Soccer will be setting up a fan zone at Easton Town Center September 6-8 with contests, a soccer tournament and a viewing party. The day before the game, they'll host a pep rally at The Bluestone, 583 E. Broad St.

 

Fans will get into the spirit with parties of their own the evening before the game. The American Outlaws support group will be hosting fans from all over the country at 4th Street Bar and Grill, at 1810 N. Fourth St. Local support group The Hudson Street Hooligans will have bands and food trucks at Hendoc's Pub, 2375 N. High st. north of campus.

 

It's rare in Columbus that the big game takes place somewhere other than Ohio Stadium, but on September 10 soccer games in America don't get any bigger. Two nations will be glued to the action at Crew Stadium. U.S. vs Mexico with bragging rights and a trip to the World Cup on the line; it will be riveting.