In the second half it was a different story.
Johnson's goal, in the 49th minute, was almost identical to his chance in the first half. But this time Johnson's powerful header left Corona with no chance and the crowd of 24,584 exploded.
Johnson took a hard fall 14 minutes later when he went up for a header and was undercut by a Mexican defender, landing on his back and head. He stayed down for a couple minutes, but stayed in the game.
Johnson, who looked like he was still feeling the effects of the fall, was subbed off in the 76th minute. It's technically true to say that he left to a standing ovation, but it's misleading.
The praise he got from the crowd was overwhelming, but the entire crowd was on its feet for the entire game.
"The crowd was unbelievable; amazing, amazing crowd," Klinsmann said.
Johnson's substitute, Mix Diskerud, made an immediate impact.
His low cross from just inside the right edge of the penalty box was touched ever so slightly by Clint Dempsey before Donovan hammered it into the top of the net from 4 yards out.
After several frenzied seconds of exultation, the crowd went straight to its "dos a cero" chant, which continued for most of the rest of the game.
Mexico, looking utterly defeated, mounted no serious threats the rest of the game. But the U.S. did.
In added time, after a nifty bit of footwork, Clint Dempsey beat his defender and was taken down in the penalty box, winning a penalty kick.
Dempsey took his own penalty, but sent it well wide of the goal.
It's always embarrassing to miss a penalty, but if ever there's been a time when it's not so bad to miss one - with the U.S. holding a comfortable and iconic lead and no time left - this was it.
Reach David Gutman at 304-348-5119 or david.gut...@wvgazette.com.