USMNT Report: History Made and Jinx Lifted

The USA wins in Mexico for the first time in 75 years
by Herb Scribner   |   Thursday, August 16, 2012

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The US Men’s National Team walked out of Estadio Azteca with a victory for the first time Wednesday night. It was 75 years in the making and adds to the budding list of victims of the new USMNT under coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Mexico highlights: The contest against Mexico was also a first for Orozco Fiscal, who earned his first international goal to give the USMNT the victory.

In the 80th minute, Brek Shea cut in on the left-side of the box past a Mexican defender. He slid the ball to Terrance Boyd, who swiftly back-heeled the ball to Fiscal, who put it past Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

The Americans were on defense for the remainder of the match, doing its best to hold back the Mexican offense. Tim Howard was big in the final moments, stopping shots by Javier Hernandez in the 85th and 89th minutes.

Mexico didn’t go down quietly in the match, as El Tri held the majority of possession and poise for the majority of the match.

The Americans weren’t proactive in the game either, but luckily their defense held off many Mexican attacks. Geoff Cameron did well and held up the backline and Javier Hernandez consistently throughout the match. Tim Howard showed his class and kept the USA in the match. He earned the clean sheet despite El Tri outshooting the US 11-4.

Post-game reactions: After earning the historic win Klinsmann was very excited in the post-game press conference.

“I think it’s huge,” Klinsmann said. “It’s huge for all American fans and it’s huge for the team. It’s historic. We were well aware that we’ve never won here at Azteca and this is an amazing experience for all the players.”

“It’s a wonderful moment because winning a game against a very good Mexican team that we have a lot of respect for at the Azteca Stadium, that means a lot to us.”

“That was very difficult for us and Tim Howard made some unbelievable saves, and I’ve said it many times over the last few years that he belongs to the top 3 goalkeepers in the world and he showed that tonight,” Klinsmann said.

Howard said the win was by no means easy for the Americans.

“It took a lot of grit and determination,” Howard said. “We went out there and played our hearts out tonight. It’s not lost on any of us that we made history. We’re just so proud of those guys. We worked hard. We played well and we had to weather their storm most of the game and we did that.”

Fiscal, who made the biggest difference in the match with his late goal, spoke on those differences and his goal.

“This means a lot to me because my parents are Mexican, but I was born in the U.S., but since Day One I’ve chose to defend the U.S. and I’ve done it with honor and a lot of respect to the country,” Fiscal said.

Landon Donovan, who was very quiet in the match, still reveled in its historic implications.

“At the end of the day, we don’t win any trophies for winning tonight and we don’t get any points for it, but considering the history so we’re going to enjoy it tonight,” Donovan said.

From the stands: Things got hairy in the stands in the closing moments of the game, when Mexico fans were heckling some American fans. Police arrived at the scene, allegedly in the upper deck, and escorted some from both sides away.

The Road to Now: The USMNT had a very busy summer, despite not playing any matches.

There were several rumors regarding many different players, including Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, who were both absent from Wednesday night’s win. While Dempsey hasn’t moved from Fulham, Bradley transferred to AS Roma in July. Cameron was also in the news recently. He was in transfer limbo before finally making a move to Stoke City.

In July, the USMNT also dropped eight spots in the FIFA World Rankings from 28 to lowly 36.

The team also sat on the sidelines earlier this month as many other men’s sides competed in the Olympic Games.

Analysis: Like most I was very surprised by last night’s result. Happy, but surprised.

Going into this match, I was under the impression that it was finally time for Mexico to take that next leap into becoming a world power, especially with their U23s just coming back with Olympic gold.

I won’t say Mexico is totally out of the running to take a seat next to the world’s best. But last night the trajectory seemed changed. In fact, I may be eating my words in two years if the Mexicans make a strong run in the 2014 World Cup.

But if last night’s win shows us anything about Klinsmann’s USMNT, it’s that the USA is not going down without a fight, even to stronger opponents in imposing venues. It may not be as pretty as we had hoped. It may be more of the same, stylistically, but at least they are winning. And we all know it’s hard not to like winning.

The victory is also good for the USMNT and the whole US Soccer program that they could walk out of Azteca with the win and lift the Mexican curse.

It’s certainly good for Klinsmann and his reputation, as he now has two first-ever victories under his belt: the first a 1-0 win over Italy in Genoa, and now Mexico at Azteca.

What’s more, the result was also accomplished without starters Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra or Michael Bradley. Even Jozy Altidore, who was a staple among the USMNT roster slots for many years, was gone. And Donovan, the former captain, was a ghost last night. So the team not only made history, but they may have stumbled upon a new vein of leadership as well.

There is a changing of the guard for the USMNT happening as we speak. Younger players are getting their shot, and they’re running with it.

It was great seeing Shea back on form, even though he only played 13 minutes. He’s been suffering this season at FC Dallas, so it was nice to see last night that his talents have not been lost, just maybe fried a bit in the Dallas summer.

Tim Howard was huge for the team last night, especially his late heroics. He is literally a savior for the USMNT and will be invaluable in World Cup qualifying.

Besides Howard, Geoff Cameron was also the key player in the US win. He worked the backline very efficiently, and kept Chicharito tamed for the majority of the game with his height and marking. He’s the Man of the Match for me.

I see this as a great step forward for the USMNT. The new blood of the USMNT got a solid win to build their confidence and the mental Mexican curse seems to be lifted. Psychologically this is a shot of B Vitamins for the World Cup qualifying marathon to come.

Up next: World Cup Qualifying returns as the USMNT faces Jamaica in three weeks on Sept. 7, at Independence Park in Kingston, Jamaica. The game will sadly not be televised.

Four days later, the USMNT will once again face Jamaica, this time at Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio. The game will be shown on ESPN2, ESPN3.com and the Univision family of networks.

Both sides have four points in the CONCACAF standings. Currently, they are both poised to qualify for the fourth round of WC qualifying.

Herb SCRIBNER

Nationality:
USA
College:
UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
RSL
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.
HERB'S SPONSORS