By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
For FOX Deportes
Let’s start with this – the U.S. soccer 1-0 victory over Mexico Wednesday was historic, grand, confidence-building, momentous and just about any other adjective you can come up to describe it. To break a 24-game winless streak in Mexico that spanned 75 years is important. It will pay dividends down the road, namely that the Americans will no longer be as intimidated by Estadio Azteca and the mystique of never winning there.
Let’s also give credit – and huge thumbs down – to those idiotic Mexican fans who attempted to distract the American players (notably goalkeeper Tim Howard) with laser beams. Howard got the last laugh by saving the day numerous times for his team.
Give credit to the U.S. team for accepting that a Mexican home field advantage in Mexico means pretty much anything goes in the stands and dealing with the adversity, not whining about it.
Mexico had chances to score but did not finish. And in all honestly, El Tri played poorly when not generating those chances. How many passes failed to connect or sailed out of bounds?
What was Mexico’s problem? Did it not take this game seriously? Did its players look at the U.S. roster and say “no hay problema con ellos?” Did the team think it would win so handily, especially on a night when the Olympic gold medal team and other gold medalists from the country were being honored?
The fireworks were cool, but that ceremony was little more than a stroll out onto the pitch and lots of soccer players weren’t there.
It was really good to see Michael Orozco Fiscal score the winning goal. What a thrill for this Mexican American young man who plays professionally in Mexico’s first division to be the one who broke the losing streak on Mexican soil. It must have been his proudest moment.
Tons of credit to Brek Shea and Terrence Boyd (what a back pass!) for the setup on the goal.
Mexico got good play from Andres Guardado, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Elias Hernandez, in particular. The defense would have gotten good marks, too, if not for its failure to stop the U.S. goal.
Chicharito deserved far better, but the U.S. strategy of packing it on defense and hoping for a counter attack worked. With big center back Geoff Cameron patrolling the box and solid work from Edgar Castillo and Maurice Edu, the Americans stymied the Mexicans time after time, and when they weren’t stopping shots, Howard was.
Final thought: Commentator Taylor Twellman was right. There is a gap between the U.S. and Mexican national programs. Have the Americans won a major competition in the last year or two? No, but Mexico has won the Olympics, the U-17 World Cup, placed third at the U-20 World Cup and won the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Has the U.S. gotten farther than the World Cup quarterfinals? No, meaning it has not advanced further than Mexico. Does Mexico have more talent and depth from top to bottom of the national team program? Yes.
The U.S. was both lucky and good Wednesday, and sometimes that’s all an underdog needs to pull of an upset.
The result has to serve as a wakeup call to both teams. For the U.S., it could be the start of a good run through World Cup 2014 qualifying and a belief in coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s philosophy. For Mexico, this loss should serve notice to a few players (estas escuchando, Severo Meza?) that they can easily be replaced on the national team.
All in all, this match was a friendly, not a game with something on the line other than some temporary bragging rights. Mexico needs to get over this quickly and crush the field in World Cup qualifying.