USA vs. Mexico: Michael Orozco Goal Gives US Vital World Cup Qualifier Momentum
The United States ended 75 years of heartache and disappointment against Mexico on Wednesday, defeating the Mexicans 1-0 in Azteca (the Mexican home stadium) for the first time in history.
For the Americans, the game-winning goal came in the contest's 80th minute from the unlikeliest of heroes: light-scoring defender Michael Orozco Fiscal.
In just his fifth appearance for the U.S. men's national team, Orozco Fiscal had entered the international friendly just three minutes before his goal in the 77th minute.
Having scored just five total goals in six professional seasons split between Major League Soccer and Liga MX in Mexico, Orozco Fiscal's goal was a product of being in the right place at the perfect time.
For Mexico, this loss means very little in the large scheme of things. A good portion of the El Tri lineup sat out the friendly against the United States to rest after winning the gold medal in the London Summer Olympics.
Even while not at full strength, Mexico dominated the action for most of the contest, and the United States needed an all-time performance from goalie Tim Howard to come out on top.
But for the Americans, this victory means everything.
"The goal was for the U.S. fans and the whole U.S. We made history," said Orozco Fiscal (via the New York Daily News) after the game.
There is no denying it was a historic win for the United States. Prior to Wednesday, the United States was 0-23-1 in 24 attempts to take down its southern bordering country on Mexico's home turf. At Azteca, located in Mexico City, the U.S. had been outscored a combined 81-14 over 20 matchups.
The United States' victory over Mexico will also take the heat of scorn off of recently criticized head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
After taking over for long-time coach Bob Bradley in August 2011, Klinsmann was hailed as a savior to U.S. soccer.
But some comments after the USMNT's loss to Brazil in May drew the ire of some fans.
Via the New York Daily News:
We need to get an edge, more nastier. Maybe we're a little bit still too naive. Maybe we don't want to hurt people. But that's what we've got to do. You've got to do that at the end of the day. So we've got to step on their toes more and get them more frustrated and make a case with the referee maybe as well, for us, not only the opponent.
Outside the pressure relief and historical significance, beating Mexico should give the entire squad momentum as it prepares for the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
The United States comes into the next series of matches tied for the Group A lead with Jamaica and will head to Kingston for the first of a vital home-and-home against the Jamaicans on Sept. 7.
With the USMNT coming into the game soaring after the victory against Mexico, it's highly likely that the Americans come in as heavy favorites against FIFA's 66th-ranked team.
Regardless, the Americans just proved how fleeting momentum can become and should not take Jamaica lightly.
The U.S. should build on this momentous occasion, storm out of Kingston victorious and work on locking up its spot in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.
And, you know, maybe take Orozco Fiscal out to a nice dinner or something.
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