USMNT downplay 2012 win over Mexico at Azteca heading into World Cup qualifier
MEXICO CITY — For a team that until recently had never won at the Estadio Azteca, the USMNT will now be shooting for two in a row at the mythical "Colossus of Santa Úrsula."
Michael Orozco Fiscal, who was a late addition to the US team on Monday night, scored the game-winner in the August 15, 2012 friendly which marked the first time the US senior team had ever won a match on Mexican soil. But what does that 1-0 win mean for Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier (10:30 pm ET, ESPN/Univision, live chat on MLSsoccer.com)?
Nothing, says forward Herculez Gomez.
"By no means do we feel that gives a certain edge or advantage either physically, mentally or psychological, whatever you want to call it," Gomez said on Monday. "We're still going into this game knowing that it's a different game. It isn't like before. Totally different platform and anything can happen."
Mexico have lost just one home World Cup qualifier in national team history (vs. Costa Rica) and has defeated the US in six of seven qualifying visits by the Americans. The lone result for the USMNT came in a 0-0 draw in November 1997.
Including friendlies and other competitions, the US have played a total of 10 times at the Estadio Azteca, good for a 1-8-1 record. The only victory came in that now-famous August friendly.
"It's tough to say it's lost it's mystique," Gomez noted about the Estadio Azteca. "Look at their record. It's still a pretty strong record."
Gomez started in the historic 1-0 US win last year and is one of a total of 12 players on the current US roster who were on that gameday squad. Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi, who came on as a sub in the match, called it a "confidence-builder" going into Tuesday.
But midfielder Maurice Edu, who plays for Bursaspor in Turkey and served at centerback in the match, says that manager Jurgen Klinsmann doesn't need to bring up Aug. 15, 2012, in the lead-up to their latest encounter with Mexico.
"This is a new game, a new day," Edu said. "And we're looking to go out there and do something special again and not just live off of that moment."
DaMarcus Beasley, who has played his fair share of matches at the Azteca for both the US and Mexican side Puebla, agrees. The veteran is trying to warn the younger players who featured last August in front of a half-full Azteca – 56,000 was the announced crowd – that Tuesday's match will be a whole other story.
"I actually told my roommate Terrence Boyd, I was like, 'You're going to be in for a treat for tomorrow,'" Beasley said. "He said, 'Naah it's going to be like last game.' I said, 'No it will not be.'
"This is a qualifier. It's not a friendly," continued Beasley. "Whenever I played here in qualifying there's never been an empty seat. So it's going to be over 100,000."