The difference for the USA was immediately apparent from its match in Kingston on Tuesday. A clean pitch let the team move the ball with pace and precision, keeping Jamaica off balance and leading to a bevy of first-half chances. The result was a much-needed 1-0 win in World Cup qualifying.
"In Jamaica, you couldn't pass the ball around because it was just bumpy in the middle," USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann said after the match. "It was impossible to control the ball, to play just one or two touches. It was very difficult. Tonight we knew the surface was there. It was far easier to pay a cleaner technical game."
There's a little bit of magic for the USA here in Columbus.
The USA came out with a different attitude and dominated from the onset, but after a first half full of half-chances, ringing posts and near misses, it seemed as though this might be another one of those nights where nothing was going to fall.
A goal early in the second half - fittingly scored from a free kick as the USA getting the luck of some poor goalkeeping - did away with that notion.
The home side looked tired in the later stages of the match, and Jamaica, abandoning the hope of keeping a clean sheet and earning some sort of result that way, was suddenly on the attack. But the Americans held on for three points to move back atop the Group A standings.
"I think we put a lot of effort into the first half, really pushed hard," Clint Dempsey said. "We were unlucky, hitting the post a few times, keeper made some saves. But second half, when we finally got the breakthrough I think we were a little bit tired and we just tried to keep possession. You don’t want to take your foot off the gas, but at the same time you want to try to be smart."
Another trip to Columbus for a qualifier, and another boost when the team was in very real need of it.
In seven World Cup qualifying matches in Columbus, the USA has never lost. Five wins, two draws - that's how the record reads after Tuesday night's result, and it's no coincidence. Tuesday's result was about a lot of things. A tactical change, a better pitch and cooler weather all played their part.
But there's always more to the story than that.
Tuesday night the USA had a home match. A real, honest-to-goodness, home-field advantage. That shouldn't be discounted.
It may have been the best crowd the U.S. team had ever seen.
"Yeah, for sure, man," Dempsey said. "It's great to see. There’s not to many times you go to games here in the States - especially national team games – and you have everybody rooting for you. It was awesome. Hopefully in the years to come, more cities will be like that, but Columbus has always been good to us and tonight they were excellent."
Jose Torres agreed, saying it was a special night at Crew Stadium.
"Everywhere you go, you have a great crowd, but tonight I think it was the best crowd we’ve had," he said. "It was a special night. It’s 9/11, we knew we had important people here and we couldn’t let these people down. I think the team did a great job and got a great win."
The USA may never have its own Azteca or Saprissa stadium, a place so massive, packed with such a rowdy crowd and offering conditions so trying that it becomes intimidating to any team that ventures in.
But the USA does have a home, and that home is in Columbus.