Seventy-five years of futility are now officially in the past.
The US national team made history at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on Wednesday night, stunning Mexico 1-0 thanks to a late goal by substitute defender Michael Orozco Fiscal.
The victory marks the United States’ first-ever win on Mexican soil, ending a long, painful winless streak and handing Jurgen Klinsmann’s side a massive confidence boost as they prepare to resume World Cup qualifying next month. And it arrived in the most unlikely scenario imaginable, delivered by a hybrid roster shorn of top contributors like Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Carlos Bocanegra.
The Yanks’ forward forays were few and far between but Brek Shea made the most of his first such opportunity after entering the game for Herculez Gomez in the 78th minute. The FC Dallas winger slashed into the Mexican penalty area barely two minutes later and centered to Terrence Boyd, whose improvised back heel skipped into the path of Orozco Fiscal for a short-range finish past Guillermo Ochoa to stun the Azteca crowd.
Content to defend for long periods, the USMNT lost the possession battle to their rivals by some margin. Mexico’s wing duo of Pablo Berrera and Andrés Guardado created several dangerous opportunities for star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, though the Manchester United man looked surprisingly off-color and spurned one particularly inviting chance with a glancing header that missed the target in the 76th minute.
Otherwise, former Houston Dynamo center back Geoff Cameron, ably assisted by Maurice Edu, anchored an inexperienced US backline which looked surprisingly comfortable in the daunting setting, repelling plenty of Mexican pressure and leaning on veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard in the late going.
Howard patrolled his penalty area with authority all night, coming off his line to punch away a dangerous service shortly before the half-hour mark, one of a scant few gripping moments during a scrappy first half.
The Everton netminder came up with two clutch saves in the late going. He made the save of the game to reverse himself and block a deflected effort which looked sure to dribble past him, then produced a fantastic reflex save of Hernández’s header deep in the six-yard box one minute before full time.
Though the result came in an international friendly, the US celebrated deliriously after the final whistle, knowing that they’d ended decades of futility south of the border and broken the hex at a legendary venue where they will likely return for a qualifying showdown in the CONCACAF Hexagonal round next year.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Tim Howard||Veteran netminder produced a vintage performance, with two huge saves on Chicharito to preserve win.|
|2||Geoff Cameron||New Stoke man was terrific in anchoring backline, mopping up intelligently and pairing well with Mo Edu.|
|3||Brek Shea||Did the kid need this or what? Immediate contribution off bench, creating winner for Orozco Fiscal.|