0-23-1. That was the record that the American men's soccer teams had playing in Mexico over the past 75 years. None of that mattered tonight, however, because the United States men's soccer team went to Mexico's house and defeated them 1-0 in front of a large number of very angry Mexicans for their first time EVER. Before this game, I had zero hope of pulling out a victory, much less a tie. Mexico is a team on the rise. They had just won the gold medal in the Olympics. Their star, Chicharito, is one of the most dynamic players in the game today. The Americans have been on a down slide for years but have been working on a new game plan and system with a new coach that they hoped would one day provide the result that we all saw tonight.
Let's face it. Mexico had some solid chances in the box tonight that they flat out missed. Yes, we had one of the best defensive performances I've ever seen from our men in a long time, but the Mexicans should have had some goals. Chicharito, in particular, missed what should have been an easy diving header for a goal late in the game. Then again, to win soccer games, sometimes you must have luck on your side when you are the underdog and somewhat outgunned.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's Plan Is Working
Heading into this game, one of the biggest laments that I've heard soccer pundits make in recent years (including myself) is how few young stars we have coming up in America. One of the problems has been that previous national coach, Bob Bradley, tended to stick with the same starting 11 for the national team for the vast majority of the important games and tournaments. Jurgen Klinsmann has had the opposite approach. He's continually brought in newer, lesser experienced players for a variety of games. Some play in the MLS (like Brek Shea), and some are young guys beginning to make names for themselves in Europe (like Terrence Boyd). There were four starters on the American side with less than 10 caps, and another four starters who had less than 25 caps. For such a young team to play so well in one of the most intimidating stadiums in the world says a lot about their fortitude and promise.
Typical Classless Mexican Fans
It just goes without saying that when you play in Mexico or Central America, you need body armor. Even if you're a fan in the stands. Per Grant Wahl on twitter, a small group of American fans had to be escorted to safety after Mexican supporters began raining objects down upon them in the second half. Many times when a closeup of American goalkeeper Tim Howard was shown, green lasers could be seen shining in his face. Someone basically made it their business all night to try and distract him.
Tim Howard Still America's Greatest Player
Howard is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. It's why he starts for Everton in the Premier League. Without him, America would have a tough time winning any game against any opponent. Tonight, with two amazing saves in the final minutes of the game he once again proved his worth. In my mind, he should be the permanent Captain for the team.
Is Donovan Playing His Way Out Of the Starting Lineup?
Landon Donovan is one of the greatest American soccer players in the history of this sport in our country, but he is definitely on the downslope of his career. Officially, when he was pulled from the game at halftime, the excuse was a hamstring injury of some sort. Now, some will say that this is indeed true, but I've not seen him play well for the international team for some time. The World Cup won't be until 2014. By then Donovan will be 32 years old. If he's still starting at that time, our team is in real trouble. We need fresh, aggressive energy and a guy like Terrence Boyd needs to start getting more quality minutes for this American team in the games leading up to the World Cup to supplant Donovan.
Julie is a featured contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network and a fanatical supporter of both American national soccer teams. She's still in a bit of shock and hope that this is a sign of even greater things to come for a squad that she has followed for the past several years.