Thursday, August 16, 2012

United States Gets Historic Win at Estadio Azteca

With an unlikely goal by Michael Orozco Fiscal in the 80th minute of last night's international friendly between Mexico and the United States at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, history was made as the United States beat Mexico, 1-0.

For the first time in its 75 year history, the United States, featuring a young, cobbled together squad, managed to beat their CONCACAF rival, Mexico, on Mexican soil. It was just a friendly, and a mid-August friendly at that, but it is proof-positive to the US National Team that it is possible for them to beat Mexico at the forbidding Azteca.

Despite the historic win, this was not necessarily one of the best performances by the United States. For the bulk of the match, Mexico controlled the ball, primarily in the US's half, and out-shot the US. In fact, but for the goal keeping of Everton's Tim Howard, Mexico should have picked up at least four goals.

The fact that Mexico was putting so much attacking pressure on the US, but was unable to score, highlights one of the bright spots for the US, its defense. The combination of Howard in goal and Geoff Cameron, Maurice Edu, Edgar Castillo, and Fabian Johnson on the back line showed great strides in the ability of the US team to shut down the attack; however, clearing the ball is something the defense still needs to work on.

The US's midfield was a bit of shambles, failing to play much of a role in either the defense or attack. The absence of Michael Bradley, who is now with A.S. Roma, and Clint Dempsey was evident in the midfield's ability to accomplish anything positive for the US. Meanwhile, Landon Donovan was apparently hampered by his left hamstring and left the match after halftime.

Herculez Gomez started the match as the lone forward but it's hard to put 100% of the blame for the US's lackluster attack during the first 77 minutes of the match on Gomez's shoulders since he wasn't getting much service from the midfield. The fact that the US only started one forward is disappointing not because US Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has promised a more attacking style from his side, but more because history tells us that the US tends to attack poorly when it only has one player up top.

Next up for the United States is the start of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying as they travel to Kingston, Jamaica to face the Jamaican National Team on September 7, 2012. The win over Mexico should give the US some good momentum going into the qualifiers and should give them a boost of confidence the next time they face Mexico at the Azteca, which, should be, a match that matters in the hexagonal.


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