Team USA had visited Mexico 24 times before last night to play soccer. In 75 years, they didn't win a single one of those matches.
That all changed Wednesday night when the United States national team essentially sent its "B" squad to Estadio Azteca and left with a historic 1-0 victory in front of 100,000 screaming fans.
Manager Jurgen Klinsmann struck gold with his substitutes, as two relative unknowns combined to put the ball in the back of the net. Terrance Boyd made a beautiful back-heel pass to Michael Orozco Fiscal, and all Orozco Fiscal had to do was connect as the ball rolled past Mexico's keeper.
Sure, the match came at an awkward time—Mexico was four days removed from bringing home the gold and English Premier League play was set to kick off on Saturday, keeping players like Clint Dempsey and Giovani dos Santos away.
Details, details. No matter which way you cut it, hardly anybody expected the Americans to escape Mexico City with a win, or even a draw.
Now, Team USA sets its sights on World Cup qualifying, which hasn't exactly gotten off on the right foot.
In early June, the U.S. took care of business against Antigua and Barbuda, but then they only managed a draw vs. Guatemala. The fourth team in Team USA's group, Jamaica, is tied atop the standings with the Americans.
The Reggaeboyz happen to be the next two matches on the schedule, and although Team USA could afford to split these matches with Jamaica, I believe they won't lose either of them. Here's why.
In the victory against Mexico, Team USA discovered it has some diamonds in the rough because it was only able to send a few of its regulars to Mexico City and was allowed more substitutes since the match was a friendly.
Guys like Brek Shea, Boyd and Orozco Fiscal—who is a Mexican-American—strung together the winning goal, and who knows? All three could end up being guys who make a contribution here and there moving forward.
Or maybe not. But still, the confidence booster Team USA just received can't be denied. They will get a chance in less than a month to put that renewed confidence to the test.
On Sept. 7, Kansas City will host the Americans' next World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica.
The match won't receive the level of buzz that surrounded last night's battle against El Tri, but it's an important match nonetheless should the U.S. wants to win its group, or at least solidify its standing in order to reach the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
The top two teams from each of the three semifinal groups in CONCACAF reach the final group, which will consist of six teams—one of which will surely be Mexico.
But back to Wednesday's triumph.
What should be noted is the world-class play of goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was able to stave off several attacks from the Mexican squad. Having a goalie at the peak of his game is crucial to a team's success, and Howard will be able to stay sharp as he moves into his Premier League season.
To have Howard and Landon Donovan, two of the most experienced players on the team, on the pitch last night will be instrumental carrying this renewed confidence into Team USA's September matches vs. Jamaica as the rest of the regulars return to play.
The U.S. has proven this year it is able to step it up for the big matches by defeating Italy and Mexico, but they must bring that same mentality to World Cup qualifying when playing lesser-known opponents.
The tie against Guatemala was a big wake-up call, and Team USA certainly woke up against Mexico in a situation where they needed a lift in a big way.
Jamaica is next, and the Americans are ready to prove they are for real.
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