Eight years ago, Crew Stadium hosted a World Cup qualifying match between the United States and Mexico. U.S. Soccer officials hoped to find a distinct home field advantage in Ohio's frigid February climate.

A new Cold War is coming.

Eight years ago, Crew Stadium hosted a World Cup qualifying match between the United States and Mexico. U.S. Soccer officials hoped to find a distinct home field advantage in Ohio's frigid February climate.

Their hopes were realized as temperatures dipped below freezing and Josh Wolff led the Yanks to a 2-0 victory in what has become known as "La Guerra Fria." (That's "The Cold War" en Espanol.)

That shellacking earned Columbus the right to host 2005's U.S.-Mexico qualifier. Although temperatures were considerably higher for that Labor Day weekend clash, the result was the same: The U.S. prevailed 2-0 to clinch another World Cup trip.

Last December, after weeks of rumors that the game would be played in Salt Lake City, U.S. Soccer awarded the border war to Crew Stadium for a third straight qualifying cycle.

Psychological advantage firmly established, the U.S. will face Mexico Wednesday in Columbus to begin the final qualifying round for next year's World Cup.

"It's nice to finally be getting in Mexico's head," said John Clem, who helps run Crew Union and heads up the Columbus Brigade of U.S. soccer supporters group Sam's Army. "Michigan didn't take Ohio State seriously for a long time, and now lately they've been taking us more seriously, and I think it's the same parallel with Mexico. They hadn't been taking us seriously for a long time, and now they're kind of having to."

Several Crew players, including Frankie Hejduk and Robbie Rogers, were called into training camp and could be on the U.S. roster Wednesday. But whether Columbus talent gets in the game or not, their fans will be there.

Blake Compton, a member of Crew backers Hudson Street Hooligans, organized a special ticket sale for Crew supporters and hopes a triumphant fan turnout in the Nordecke will convince disenchanted Crew fans to come back this year. But first and foremost, he's hoping for a U.S. win.

"It's the first game of the World Cup qualifying," Compton said. "We're playing pretty much our biggest rivals, and we really need to beat them."

Where to watch:

Claddagh Irish Pub

585 S. Front St., Brewery District

An official sponsor of U.S. Soccer, Claddagh continues to quietly sell its allotment of tickets to the sold-out qualifier. If you hurry, General Manager Craig McConville may have a few left.

The pub is hosting the boisterous boosters of Sam's Army for two days. Tuesday, they'll show old U.S.-Mexico encounters. Wednesday, they're running shuttles to Crew Stadium before and after the game.

"Pretty much our entire line of beers will be at a pretty solid discount," McConville said. "We're probably going to line up a band for whenever the bus gets back from the game so that people walk back in to a festive atmosphere - hopefully not a mariachi band."

Ruby Tuesday

1978 Summit St., Campus

Tuesday night, Ruby's is working to line up a free concert and planning to screen Crew Stadium's last two U.S.-Mexico matches.

If you prefer to party nearby then walk to the stadium, Ruby's will open at 2 p.m. on match day. The rogue U.S. supporters known as American Outlaws will be there to join Crew partisans Hudson Street Hooligans. The bar will sell 24-oz. PBR tallboys for $2 each - $1 if you're a Hooligan. (That deal will apply during Crew season too.) After the game, The Floorwalkers will rock upstairs while the soccer rowdies flock to their customized basement lair.

"It's totally a soccer paradise down there," Assistant Manager Krista Williams said.

Studio 35

3055 Indianola Ave., Clintonville

The Clintonville cinema will show the match on the big screen. Admission is free, and PBR will be on sale for $2.