Wednesday night the United States Men’s Soccer Team, fresh off not making it to the London Olympics, made a bit of history by pulling off a 1-0 win over Mexico on Mexico’s home turf.
Just for a reference point on how important this was to the United States, the U.S. has lost the past 24 matches played between them and Mexico on Mexican soil.
In order for the United States to pull out this win, spectacular play was required and boy did the Men’s team meet that demand. There were three specific moments, all of which happened in the 80th minute or beyond, which made sure that the U.S. managed the upset.
First up is obviously the spectacular goal by Orozco Fiscal in the 80th minute of the game. It’s hard to pass up this moment, simply because it was the most important point of the game.
This goal was mostly outstanding because of its set up. It began with forward Brek Shea who got the ball inside to Terrence Boyd on a tremendous pass, despite Boyd having two Mexico defenders around him.
From there, Boyd made what I believe to be the play of the game, and one which was more difficult than the goal itself. When Terrence received the ball from Shea, he had his back to the goal. Boyd then beat a Mexico defender to the ball, squared up and gave a perfectly placed pass to Fiscal with his heel.
All Fiscal had to do was put the ball in past a Mexico defender who had slid into goal. Not to downplay the heroics or skill of that goal, but the set up for it needs to be emphasized for the ability it took.
The minutes after the goal were basically a mad dash for the United States to keep Mexico from scoring. Despite their best efforts, the U.S. team was almost stunned by a late goal from Javier Hernandez.
No surprise to any U.S. fan, Tim Howard was there to save the day for the second-most spectacular play of the game. Hernandez was able to get off a shot only a few minutes after Fiscal’s goal, despite being surrounded by three United States players.
The save was amazing because it bounced off of one of the U.S. defenders. This forced Howard to reverse his direction and dive left after already committing to his right. Howard was able to tip the ball with one hand, jump on it and save the United States’ chance at a historic game.
The final moment was another save in the 88th minute by Howard. Once again, Hernandez was able to get a good look at a shot, this time a header, in front of the goal. For this save, Howard dove to his left and managed to tip the ball away.
This save was the less impressive of the two, except that it came in the 88th minute and really saved the United States’ chances at a victory.
All three of these moments, along with countless other smaller plays, were necessary for the U.S. to pull off this historic win, which will hopefully serve as a starting point for Team U.S.A. to begin winning on the international level.