United States' Soccer Future Is Bright After Win over Mexico at Azteca

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - AUGUST 15:  Michael Orozco of the United States celebrates after scoring with teammates during a FIFA friendly match between Mexico and US at Azteca Stadium on August 15, 2012 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images)
Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

Heading into the United States' friendly with CONCACAF rivals Mexico on Wednesday night at the Estadio Azteca, the talk of the town was the recent Olympic gold medal won by the Mexican U-23 team.

At the end of the night, all of the talk was about the future of American soccer, especially the players that played a huge role in the Americans' 1-0 win, their first in Mexico.

Although it was American goalkeeping legend Tim Howard who stole the show and preserved the win for the Americans, the core of young players impressed all American fans.

From the start of the match, the makeshift central defense pairing of Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu were able to hold Mexican attacking chances to a minimum.

Cameron's skills at the center-back position not only were enough to impress fans of his new club, Stoke City, but American fans as well.

For the longest time, the United States has been searching for the perfect pairing in the middle of defense.

Captain Carlos Bocanegra has been in need of a new defense partner for a while, as he has seen Oguchi Onyewu struggle beside him. Clarence Goodson has played well, but not well enough.

Cameron may be the answer to that problem in the next two years heading into the 2014 World Cup.

The move of the 27-year-old Cameron to Stoke City will also give him more experience and more time in Jurgen Klinsmann's starting 11 if he excels in England.

While Cameron's talent was on display for the whole 90 minutes, it was two other players who came on as substitutes who made a lasting impact with American fans.

Brek Shea, who could do no wrong at this time last year but has had a troublesome season with FC Dallas, proved to everyone involved in soccer in the United States that he still has potential.

Shea came on in the 78th minute for Herculez Gomez and immediately wreaked havoc on the Mexican defense.

With his first touch of the ball, Shea made a run down the left side and found Terrence Boyd, who then flicked the ball on to Michael Orozco Fiscal, who scored the winning goal.

Although only on for 12 minutes, Shea's time on the pitch at Azteca showed why the 22-year-old earned an invite to train with Arsenal during the MLS offseason.

Then there is Terrence Boyd, who nine months ago was playing for Borussia Dortmund's reserve team.

Boyd is now the potential long-term answer to the United States' forward problems.

Over the past few years, only Jozy Altidore has turned out to be the real deal at forward with Charlie Davies and Juan Agudelo having brief spells up front before drifting into the abyss.

Boyd was a surprise call-up for the United States' match against Italy in February in the first of Klinsmann's historic wins in his first year as U.S. manager.

Ever since, Boyd has earned a permanent spot on the 23-man roster.

It is unlikely that Boyd would play alongside Altidore in the future, as they are both the same type of player, but he would be a valuable bench option for Klinsmann.

Just like Cameron, the 21-year-old German-born forward has made a move to a new club to improve his standing with the national team.

Boyd signed with Rapid Vienna over the summer and will get plenty of first-team time as long as he stays healthy.

Along with the three players mentioned above, Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson, Altidore and the injured Stuart Holden are also players that could be stars for the United States in the future.

One thing is for sure: The gap between the successful Mexican youth players and the American players that many said was there before Wednesday's match is no longer there after the historic win at the Estadio Azteca.