U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM EARNS HISTORIC FIRST VICTORY ON MEXICAN SOIL WITH 1-0 WIN AT ESTADIO AZTECA
MEXICO CITY (Aug. 15, 2012) - The U.S. Men's National Team defeated Mexico for the first time on its home soil in a 1-0 win at Estadio Azteca on Wednesday, marking one of the biggest U.S. victories in an international friendly.
Michael Orozco Fiscal scored his first international goal in the 80th minute as the United States took only its second ever lead at Azteca. The USA held out for the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time thanks to two clutch saves by Budweiser Man of the Math Tim Howard to earn its first win in 25 attempts in Mexico.
"I think it's huge. It's huge for all American fans and it's huge for the team. It's historic," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "We were well aware we've never won here at Azteca, and this is an amazing experience for all the players. We told them before the game, 'This moment is for you, go and grab it.' We are aware that it was a lot of work and it was a fantastic team performance."
The USA returns to 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying when it faces Jamaica at 9:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 7, at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. Four days later, the teams square off again at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. That match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Univision (TICKETS).
On Wednesday, Orozco Fiscal's first U.S. appearance since October 2011 consisted not only of his first international goal, but an historic tally for the U.S. Men's National Team. Orozco Fiscal and Brek Shea had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes each, but both played pivotal roles (along with fellow substitute Terrence Boyd) in generating the game's lone strike.
An energetic Shea drove up the left side past Mexico's Severo Meza and got one final touch in the box against Francisco Rodriguez before dishing to Boyd in the middle. Boyd took a touch and back-heeled his pass to Orozco Fiscal toward the right post, where the defender poked the ball into the net past Jorge Torres Nilo and a stranded Guillermo Ochoa.
Orozco Fiscal, who plays his club ball with San Luis in Mexico, celebrated with his teammates by the right corner flag in front of the U.S. supporters section. But with more than 11 minutes still to play, the USA's first road win in Mexico would not be easy to close out.
Mexico was in uncharted territory trailing late to the USA on its own turf, and the home side stepped up its attack to try to find an equalizer. The hosts came close in the 85th minute when Chicharito's left-footed shot deflected off Maurice Edu, who was slotting in at center back in a new-look backline for Klinsmann. Howard was going to his right and had to quickly change direction to his left to get his glove on the ball before pouncing on it to prevent the shot from crossing the goal line.
There was more to come and in the 89th minute Chicharito challenged Geoff Cameron and headed the ball at close range toward the near right side of the goal. Howard once again came up with a clutch save to his left, parrying with his left hand to keep Mexico and its much-heralded attack off the score sheet.
"Eventually, you need a little bit of luck, and in some instances we were a little bit lucky tonight, and we had Tim Howard in our goal," Klinsmann said. "I think the team really knew what to expect. It was difficult at high altitude and many of them flew in from Europe two days ago, but we had a plan and we tried to execute that plan. Getting that win here is quite enjoyable."
The plan was evident from the get-go, and that was to play organized and disciplined to keep Mexico's attack at bay. U.S. forward Herculez Gomez represented the lone striker lingering around midfield and his teammates spent the majority of the first half defending. The USA's back line - consisting of Edu, Cameron, Edgar Castillo and Fabian Johnson - came up with some key clearances on Mexico's crosses. Cameron spent much of the half marking Chicharito and disrupted the Manchester United forward on multiple occasions. Edgar Castillo was particularly busy on the left side, doing a fantastic job in one-on-one defending against Pablo Barrera. Despite an advantage in possession, Mexico failed to generate a quality scoring opportunity.
Among the USA's few opportunities in the first period was a fifth-minute strike by Gomez that skidded wide right. In the 21st minute, Jose Torres played a nice ball in from the left side that had a little too much pace and escaped Gomez and harmlessly rolled across the box.
The USA made two halftime substitutions, with DaMarcus Beasley making his first appearance in 2012 and earning his 97th cap in replacing Landon Donovan, who was suffering from tightness in his left hamstring. Terrence Boyd replaced Torres, dropping Gomez into a withdrawn forward role.
Mexico continued its regular barrage of crosses from the flanks, and substitute Lugo was the recipient in the 50th minute, getting behind Cameron but heading wide left of the goal.
Cameron continued his strong match with a difficult running header clearance on Elias Hernandez's cross in from the right side in the 56th minute. If Cameron did not alertly get in the path, Chicharito was lurking in the goal box. Instead, Cameron lunged into the path of the ball and his momentum carried him across the goal line into his own net.
Mexico missed a prime opportunity to get on the board first when Chicharito made a run behind Cameron and in front of Edu in the 76th minute, receiving a cross from Elias Hernandez who was able to generate a consistent attack from the right flank. Chicharito headed the ball without a challenge, but he drove the ball wide left.
It was shortly after that moment when Klinsmann brought in Orozco Fiscal in the 77th minute and Shea in the 78th minute. The moves proved to be advantageous as they developed the scoring sequence that led to the lone USA win in Mexico.
Howard made three saves for the U.S. to post his third shutout this year and his 28th career clean sheet. The USA now holds a 6-1-2 record in 2012, already equaling its six-win total from 2011.
Both teams shift their focus to World Cup qualifying, where the USA is atop Group A with a 1-0-1 record and four points - the same record as Jamaica - but holding the advantage in goal differential. Mexico is 2-0-0 in Group B, with a two-point lead over second-place Costa Rica.