If there was one game that USMNT fans were not expecting to deliver the first-ever win at the Estadio Azteca, it was Wednesday night. And so they got it.
The match finished 1-0 in favor of the USA, thanks to a goal by Mexican-American Michael Orozco Fiscal, formerly of the Philadelphia Union, and some great goalkeeping from ex-MLS star Tim Howard (watch the highlights here).
Is there any surprise that Orozco Fiscal would call it “the best moment of my life”? Continued the Mexican-American defender: “I think that more than breaking the streak, we gained a lot of confidence with respect to what’s ahead in qualifying.” (SPANISH)
After scoring his goal (watch it here), which originated from a cross from FC Dallas winger Brek Shea, Orozco Fiscal was thinking one thing: celebrate with the US fans. “I went straight over because the goal was for them, for the whole US,” he said. “My wife was there and my daughters and I dedicate the goal to them. I’m just very happy that they were there to support me.”
Orozco Fiscal joins an elite group of five Americans who have scored at the Estadio Azteca against Mexico. Can you name the other four?
Here’s how Mexico’s Andrés Guardado summed up the game: “We dominated the game. They got a lucky goal.”
It’s not like US manager Jurgen Klinsmann is denying it: “We know that Mexico created far more chances,” he said. “They had far more possession. But I think that even if you ask the Mexican players, they felt there was an American team there that was very, very tough to beat. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck, which we had, to win in a game like that.”
Howard, who made two big saves on Manchester United forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, was singing off the same song sheet: "We deserved a little bit of luck, and we got it tonight."
Our favorite part of the USMNT’s victory photo in the bowels of the Azteca Stadium? Jermaine Jones clinging to an oxygen mask and tank.
SI.com’s Grant Wahl paints a picture for us of the signs that adorn the walls of the tunnel, featuring Mexico’s record against each country that has visited the Estadio Azteca. Turns out Howard stopped by the US sign: “Time to change the sign,” he said.
A video that made the rounds on Twitter was the Televisa broadcast in Mexico (in Spanish) and their call of the Orozco Fiscal goal: “They’ve never beaten us here. Please don’t do it today.” Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can get the “por favor!!!” part. (VIDEO)
The win has also inspired some creativity from fans, including this photo that memorializes the feat.
And leave it to a national team player based in Europe to point out how multiple USMNT topics were trending on Twitter.
Speaking of Yanks based abroad, Tim Ream is hoping to make a return to the national team despite having been relegated with Bolton Wanderers: "I don't think it is imperative to play in the Premier League. The way [Klinsmann] looks at it, he just wants guys playing first-team football. The Championship is still a quality league."
MLS fans are in for a quality finish to the 2012 season, especially in the Western Conference, where FC Dallas registered the biggest win on Wednesday night, a 2-0 road victory in Vancouver (watch the highlights here). The three points, coupled with the Galaxy dropping points in Columbus, mean that Dallas are now just eight points behind Vancouver for the fifth and final playoff spot.
It must have been special for ex-MVP David Ferreira, who registered both assists on the night in the same city where he suffered an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for nearly 15 months. “The numbers show it,” said Jonathan Top, who scored his first career MLS goal. “Since we had David back, I think we’re 4-1-3. He’s a big part of the reason we’re winning these games.” (VIDEO)
The two teams meet again in September and FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman left his counterpart Martin Rennie with something to think about: “I think we frustrated Vancouver to the point where there’s too many cards and way too many fouls,” said Hyndman. “It just turned into a much more physical game than it should’ve been. … My feeling is Vancouver is too talented a team to play like that. Just too talented.”
It wasn’t much fun for Vancouver Designated Player Barry Robson, who wore the captain’s armband in Jay DeMerit’s absence: "The most frustrating game I think I've ever played in," Robson said. "The referee blows for every single body contact. There's no fluency to the game. The linesmen are just flagging, just guessing.”
If the Dallas win was the most significant of the midweek, the 1-1 draw between the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy was the most emotional (watch the highlights here). It was the first match since the sudden passing of Crew rookie midfielder Kirk Urso and this was the video that was shown at Crew Stadium before the match.
Arrieta and Keane got the goals, but the game was farthest from everyone’s mind with Urso’s parents attending the match and paying a visit to the Crew locker room after the match: “It was a difficult game for us to play,” manager Robert Warzycha said. “The three points were not the most important thing for us. There is something bigger we played for.”
In a lighter moment before the match, watch LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena get scarved by Crew ambassador Frankie Hejduk, a former USMNT defender for Arena. (VIDEO)
The Crew move on from the match when they unveil new designated player Federico Higuaín later today. Stay tuned for all the coverage on MLSsoccer.com. You can watch the live press conference beginning at 10 am ET.
The battle between the two worst teams in MLS finished 2-2 as the visiting Portland Timbers had the last laugh with a late Darlington Nagbe equalizer (watch the highlights here).
To think the Timbers had a rare 1-0 road lead – their first road goal since April 14 – only to watch Eric Hassli and Luis Silva score to give Toronto FC the momentary advantage. "It was basically inexperience," said Portland keeper Donovan Ricketts, who made his Timbers debut. "When you have a lead, you don't sit back. You keep on playing and make sure you kill them. We gave them an opportunity to get back in the game."
How about this praise from Hassli for Silva, the TFC rookie who’s making a late run for Rookie of the Year: “His skills, his runs, his movements. I think he’s the best young guy in this league and for me it’s great to play with him.”
Watch video of Timbers interim manager Gavin Wilkinson, who praised his players: “Something on the road we have not done well in ever coming back from being a goal down and it’s something we did well today … the responsibility they took in the last 10 minutes is hopefully a sign of things to come.”
Lastly, from a busy day of international soccer, which also saw Canada win 2-0 against Trinidad and Tobago, we leave you with this video: A fan invades the field just to shake hands with Argentina’s Lionel Messi. The superstar is pretty amused by it, too. (VIDEO)
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