Last night, the United States Men’s National Team was able to overcome 75 years of history, a Mexican side fresh off of a Gold Medal victory at the London Olympics, and a hostile crowd of thousands to earn their first victory on Mexican soil. This latest chapter of North America’s greatest football rivalry sees the United States improve their all-time record on Mexican soil to 1-23-1. Despite being dominated throughout the majority of the night, the United States was able to find a goal against the run of play and steal a 1-0 victory.
The squad selected by Jurgen Klinsmann raised some eyebrows considering that the back four had a combined 8 CAPs prior to this match. The youthful back line rose to the occasion, but was rescued from the brink of defeat several times by goalkeeper Tim Howard. Howard played an incredible match making several timely saves, including a deflected shot that forced Howard to make a sprawling save just after the United States had pulled ahead.
The match’s lone goal came from an unlikely source, defender Michael Orozco Fiscal with his first goal at the international level. Brek Shea created the goal just moments after his introduction to the match, fearlessly running at the Mexican defenders before slotting the ball to Terrence Boyd. Boyd flicked the ball on with a backheel pass to Orozco Fiscal who finished past Guillermo Ochoa.
The historic goal came just minutes after an extraordinary miss by Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez who had frustrated Mexico fans throughout the night. Chicarito also had a shot deflected which forced Tim Howard to make a difficult sprawling save along with a soaring header that was again met by the hand of the diving Howard. Despite enjoying the majority of the chances, outshooting the United States, and holding a 10-0 advantage in corner kicks; Mexico was unable to use any of these advantages to their benefit and suffered their first defeat to their rivals since 2009.
The historic victory for the United States comes in a friendly match, meaning that no greater glory was at stake for the match. Some American soccer fans have been quick to downplay the importance of the victory, but this victory signals the first major victory over a rival during the Klinsmann Era. After enjoying victories over Italy and Scotland, the USMNT had struggled against Canada and Guatemala. Going into the two upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Jamaica, this victory could serve as an important boost to morale considering it came without several of the teams biggest names including Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra.
Regardless of the efforts to downplay the importance, the victory should be celebrated because of its sheer rarity. American fans should be willing to acknowledge that the USMNT is not a powerhouse in world football, but has an opportunity to improve under the influence of new management and the ability to attract American-eligible players to the cause. Victories like the one at Azteca last evening could inspire future top tier talents to declare their talents for the United States like goalscorer Michael Orozco Fiscal or Terrence Boyd. As of this moment, prospects appear bright for the future of American football because winning on the hallowed grounds of Azteca is no longer something to only dream about.