PHILADELPHIA — The script could have not have been written any better for Michael Orozco Fiscal.
First, the former Philadelphia Union defender was called up to the US national team to play a game in the city he called home last year.
Then, he got the start alongside fellow Mexican-Americans Edgar Castillo and José Francisco Torres against a Mexican national team he knows very well.
And finally, he played a full 90 minutes at center back, helping to slow down Mexico’s potent attack while leading the US to a very satisfying 1-1 draw in front of more than 30,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field on Wednesday night.
“Just getting the start was obviously good for me,” said Orozco Fiscal, who’s currently playing with San Luis of the Mexican Primera División after spending a season on loan with the Union in 2010. “I’ve been working very hard for my club team and I wanted to get the call in, but I never expected it this quick. I’ve still got to keep working. But I was happy to get 90 minutes, especially in Philadelphia, in front of fans that supported me.”
Perhaps the only thing more surprising than Orozco Fiscal’s call-up was the fact that he started on the same back line with Castillo. Both players had made just one previous USMNT appearance, with Orozco Fiscal’s last one coming three years ago.
But without their full arsenal of defenders, new US coach Jurgen Klinsmann plugged the two Mexican-Americans into the starting lineup, with stalwart defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo offering cover. Klinsmann later praised the patchwork defense for Mexico’s lack of dangerous chance and said the veteran/youngster mixture will serve the national team well moving forward.
“It was a very solid performance,” Orozco Fiscal said of the defense. “Obviously they are very fast, coming at you from the left and the right, but I think we overcame all that and we were very solid and concentrated for all 90 minutes.”
As for playing with the only other two Mexican-Americans on the roster, that was a pleasant surprise — and one for which he is grateful.
“It’s obviously nice having these people — Edgar and José — playing on my side,” Orozco Fiscal said. “It’s a great opportunity. Klinsmann actually took a lot from the Mexican league and we’re very happy to be here.”
Orozco Fiscal will fly back to Mexico on Thursday to rejoin San Luis in time for their game against CONCACAF champions Monterrey on Saturday. But before he left the stadium, he made sure to say hello to some fans wearing Union jerseys who were calling his name.
The ex-Union defender certainly seemed to be missed. And if he continues to play well for the US national team, that feeling will likely only grow stronger.
“Here in Philadelphia, the fans are crazy,” he said. “But they support you 110 percent.”