It was just a friendly, both sides left out key players and the intimidating Estadio Azteca had a lot of empty seats, but the U.S. still beat Mexico 1-0 for a shocking and historic first ever win in Mexico. In 24 previous matches over the course of a bitter and often violent 75-year rivalry, the U.S.'s best result in Mexico was a 0-0 draw at the Azteca in 1997. Coming off of Mexico's gold medal performance at the Olympics (by an entirely different squad, mind you), this match was supposed to be an informal celebration for the home side, with the London heroes being trotted out at halftime to wave to the crowd. However, the combination of Tim Howard's stellar goalkeeping and Michael Orozco Fiscal's 80th-minute goal for the U.S. spoiled that a bit.
[Related: Tim Howard helps hold off Mexico]
Wednesday night's match was the first friendly played at the Azteca between the two sides -- an odd decision from the Mexican federation. Much of the match floated in a wading pool of apathy with the U.S. weak in attack and Mexico unable to capitalize on their chances. The U.S. relied on Howard and centerbacks Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu to hold off Mexico both before and after substitutes Brek Shea, Terrance Boyd and Michael Orozco Fiscal combined to surprise the hosts with the match's only goal.
The result was enough to upset the home fans, too. ESPN's commentators had to give their post-match thoughts under the protection of umbrellas as the disgruntled fans above them dumped beer and every other liquid you can imagine down on them. According to Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, the few U.S. fans brave enough to attend the match were evacuated before the final whistle.
Though this match in isolation might not mean a whole lot, it's a confidence booster for the U.S. and shows that they actually can overcome the mental blocks that build up over years of failure in Mexico. Combined with a 1-0 friendly win against Italy in Genoa earlier this year, manager Juergen Klinsmann seems to be instilling a new sense of self-confidence in the U.S. that's paying off. While it hasn't translated to consistently beautiful performances yet, it's a start.
UPDATE: Maurice Edu tweeted a picture of the post-match dressing room celebration...
You know it's a party when Jermaine Jones breaks out the oxygen tank.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Estadio Azteca
- Michael Orozco Fiscal