Last night there was a huge sports moment happening whether you realize it or not. The United States men’s soccer team went into Mexico City and eeked out a 1-0 victory for the first time ever. All the stats are out there. 75 years of futility in Mexico for the United States men’s soccer team takes us back to the late 1930s. Think about that for a minute. In all the years of playing soccer and even in beating Mexico on occasion, the United States had never won an away game.
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t have his best squad available, either. Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley weren’t available for this game. Neither was forward Jozy Altidore. The United States did have Landon Donovan and goalkeeper Tim Howard, but the goal game-winning goal was scored by Michael Orozco Fiscal, who finished off a fortunate attack by Brek Shea. Shea managed to get the ball into the mouth of the goal where Terrence Boyd hit a back heel pass toward Fiscal. It wasn’t an epic goal except for the consequences.
The Man of the Match was clearly U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. “Tim Howard kept us in the game I don’t know how many times,” said Klinsmann afterwards. “It was an absolutely fantastic performance by Tim.”
And boy was it. Howard wasn’t overly tested all game long, but as the U.S. was desperately trying to make their lone goal stand up in the waning minutes of the match, he absolutely shined as Mexico desperately peppered the goal. Howard was headed to his right on a deflection, yet somehow managed to stop on a dime and just barely save a terrifying ball to his left. Then, he was challenged by a last minute header that he barely batted away. That ball hung dangerously in the mouth of the goal until the U.S. defense cleared it away.
So close, Mexico came to tying it up and keeping their unbeaten home streak alive against the United States. But it didn’t happen. The United States held on and at least for a night ended a streak of futility.
You can call it lucky, if you like. The undermanned U.S. squad was dominated throughout the game as Mexico seemed to control the ball endlessly. Mexico out-shot the United States 15-6. So maybe it was somewhat lucky, but it’s hard to argue a 75-year period of futility without some seriously bad luck, so maybe the United States had this one coming on an unlikely evening.
For head coach Jurgen Klinsmann it is a feather in the cap and hopefully another building block toward creating a consistently competitive program in the United States. “I think it’s huge. It’s huge for all American fans and it’s huge for the team,” he said. “It’s historic. We were well aware that 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.’