El Tri-Team USA rivalry, by the numbers – and more

The USMNT celebrates with the Nations League trophy after defeating Mexico in Denver on June 6, 2021. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
The USMNT celebrates with the Nations League trophy after defeating Mexico in Denver on June 6, 2021. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /
El Tri Mexico Nov
El Tri captain Andrés Guardado reacts with dismay during the Concacaf Nations League final against Team USA. The Americans won in overtime. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /

The first time Mexico and the United States met on a soccer pitch was way back on May 24, 1934 … in Rome. The U.S. side defeated El Tri by a 4-2 score-line to claim the 16th and final spot in the World Cup.

As Team USA had reached the semifinals of the inaugural 1930 World Cup (in Uruguay), they were allowed to qualify for Italy 1934 via a one-game playoff, against Mexico who dominated Cuba in a three-game series to reach the playoff. The Italians congratulated the Americans by spanking them 7-1 just three days later to knock them out of the Cup right off the bat.

El Tri would gain revenge against the U.S. in their next three encounters, all held in Mexico City in September 1937. Mexico crushed their Northern Neighbors 7-2, 7-3 and 5-1.

More than eight decades later, the two Concacaf powerhouses have developed an entertaining rivalry that reveals its importance whether the match is a Gold Cup final or just a “friendly.” And a World Cup qualifier takes the intensity to an even higher level.

El Tri vs Team USA


Tonight’s World Cup qualifying match in Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium will be the 73rd meeting between the Concacaf rivals.


El Tri has won exactly half of the 72 games they’ve played against Team USA to this point. The Americans have won 21 times and there have been 15 draws.


The Concacaf rivals have squared off in 29 World Cup qualifiers dating back to that game in 1934.


El Tri has beaten the U.S. in 16 World Cup qualifiers, lost six and there have been seven tie games.


The Americans defeated Mexico by this score in four consecutive qualifiers held in Columbus, Ohio (Feb. 28, 2001; Sept. 3, 2005; Feb. 11, 2009; and, Sept. 10, 2013). Even more painful, Brian McBride and Landon Donovan found the net against Mexico in a 2002 World Cup match that further embedded “2-0” in the consciousness of the Mexicans.

U.S. fans tormented El Tri followers with the dreaded “dos a cero” chant for more than a decade until Rafa Márquez put an end to that nightmarish echo in leading Mexico to a 2-1 win – in Columbus – in the most recent qualifying clash between these two teams in the United States, back on Nov. 11, 20116.

The rivalry tightens up

Despite the comfortable advantage El Tri enjoys in the historical record, the rivalry has tipped slightly toward the Americans over the past 10 years. Since 2011, Team USA boasts a 6-5 lead with four draws, including two wins on the trot.

Each of those six losses to the U.S. was painful for Mexico, although three came in friendlies.

Aug. 15, 2012

The Americans won for the first and only time at Estadio Azteca, in a friendly. The 1-0 defeat ruined what was supposed to be a celebration in honor of the gold medal-winning members of the El Tri Olímpico squad.

Sept. 13, 2013

Team USA won its fourth consecutive World Cup qualifier over Mexico in Columbus, Ohio. The final score was, of course, “dos a cero.”

April 15, 2015

The United States won a friendly in San Antonio. Umm, what was the score? Oh right! 2-0 … again.

July 7, 2018

A lackluster 1-0 American victory in Nashville, Tennessee

That brings us to this year and the double-dose of humility handed to El Tri by Gregg Berhalter’s squad.

June 6, 2021

The U.S. claimed the inaugural Nations League trophy by winning a 3-2 overtime thriller in Denver. Goalie Ethan Horvath preserved the victory by blocking a penalty kick by El Tri skipper Andrés Guardado in minute 120+4.

Aug. 1, 2021

Despite fielding a B team, Team USA kept a tired, first-choice Mexican side scoreless through 120 minutes to claim the Gold Cup trophy. Defender Miles Robinson headed in the only goal of the match in minute 117.

Next. Can El Tri end losing streak to U.S.?. dark

Heading into Friday’s 7th Round of qualifiers for Qatar 2022, El Tri tops the Concacaf table with 14 points, followed by Team USA with 11 and Canada – Mexico’s next opponent – at 10.