U.S. Men’s National Team Beats Mexico in Mexico for First Time Ever
After 75 years and and 25 matches the US Men’s National Team wrote some history on Wednesday night as they finally defeated Mexico 1-0 for the first ever win on Mexican soil.
Sandwiched in the middle of the all-important World Cup qualifiers, the U.S. Men’s National Team used its August international friendly to take on its bitterest rival to the south. Being that the opponent was Mexico and the Americans played away in Estadio Azteca, fans weren’t expecting much – let alone a win in a team’s home stadium that the U.S. had never won in before.
The U.S. fielded Howard, Johnson, Cameron, Edu, Castillo, Jones, Beckerman, Williams, Torres, Donovan and Gomez to combat Mexico’s Ochoa, Meza, Rodríguez, Moreno, Torres, Barrera, Zavala, Viniegra, Güardado, Reyna and the ever-dangerous “Chicharito” Hernández.
As expected, Mexico dominated much of the early possession and even earned a free kick in the fourth minute that ended up in the wall. The Americans relied largely on flinging the ball into the box, looking to catch the Mexican defense off guard.
Chicharito was the offensive star for El Tri. His teammates would slide the ball into the box for him and his darting runs and quick shots forced goalkeeper Howard to make some crucial saves. In the 14th minute, Edu earned a yellow card for hauling down Chicharito well outside of the box. Güardado’s free kick smashed into the wall.
Güardado had the next opportunity with a stylish half volley in the 23rd minute, but he sent it well over the crossbar. A few minutes later, a turnover by Jones almost led to a Mexican goal by Torres, but it curved wide of the post.
The referee showed Moreno a yellow card in the 31st minute after he took down Gomez in the midfield. Even with the foul, the U.S. couldn’t manage to hang on to the ball for long, and Mexico again enjoyed many of the chances until the halftime break.
At the half, the scoreboard still read 0-0. For most U.S. fans, the scoreless draw with 45 minutes to play was a welcome sight, for if Mexico had capitalized on any of its multiple chances, the game would likely be over already. However, the Yankee defense had rebuffed all of Mexico’s shots on goal, due largely to Howard, and the U.S. had hopes of finally beating Mexico on its home turf.
Each team made some substitutions before the start of the second half. Mexico brought on the other Hernández and Lugo for Barrera and Viniegra. The U.S. subbed the lackluster Torres and equally-lackluster-but-also-slightly-injured Donovan off in exchange for Boyd and Beasley.
On one of the substitute’s first touches, Lugo managed a header that sailed just wide in the 51st minute. Just three minutes later, the U.S. had two shots to deal with. Howard punched away Chicharito’s distance strike and, luckily for the Yanks, Gomez’s volley flew over the bar.
With the quick succession of shots on goal early in the second half, it was clear that the U.S.’s already shaky form had slipped even more from the first half. Head coach Klinsmann tried another substitution to liven up his players, this time Zusi came on for Williams in the 59th minute.
The fresh legs actually seemed to help, as a long free kick from Gomez earned a parry from Ochoa. Then, a sliding tackle from Beckerman well outside of the box nearly curled into the net, eventually landing on the top netting.
Jones couldn’t keep his name out of the referee’s book for a change and earned himself a yellow card in the 69th minute for a high foot.
Mexico made an adjustment in the 73rd minute when Reyna exited in favor of Nigris. Just after, Chicharito missed Mexico’s best chance when the other Hernández made a beautiful cross that the Manchester United striker headed wide – even though he was right in the face of goal.
Klinsmann continued to switch up his lineup starting in the 76th minute. Castillo and Gómez made way for Michael Orozco and Brek Shea.
The substitutions proved to be the best tactical move of the night, as Orozco – unbelievably – scored in the 79th minute. Shea drove at the El Tri defense and took the ball toward the end line. He crossed the ball into the box for Boyd who managed to hold his defenders off then shove the ball behind him in a makeshift – but effective – back heel. In one fleeting touch, Orozco managed to finish by rolling the ball past Ochoa during the scramble in front of the net. Orozco’s first U.S. goal would end up being a historic one for the team.
The referee gave Zusi a yellow card in the 81st minute supposedly for a bad challenge. Soon after, Howard started collecting his Man of the Match honors with a series of spectacular saves. A shot from Chicharito deflected off a US defender in the 85th minute and rolled toward the goal, but Howard made a last-second shift to the opposite side to keep it out.
Both teams made two final substitutions in the 88th minute. Pérez replaced Meza for Mexico and Corona did likewise for Jones for the U.S.
Howard made another great save in the 90th minute after another Chicharito header from point-blank range. Unfortunately for the Mexicans, that was their last goal-scoring opportunity. As the four minutes of stoppage time dwindled away, the home team saw its untarnished home record against the U.S. fall.
The U.S. won for the first time ever in the Estadio Azteca against Mexico. Although the match was just a friendly, although the score line was only 1-0, although Mexico looked largely the better team, the moment is no less historic. Now, if only the team could win when it actually really mattered. Hopefully it won’t take another 75 years.