Mexico vs. USA: What Upset Means for United States Going Forward
The United States' men's national team’s 1-0 victory over Mexico is extremely important to the team’s confidence moving forward.
The match was a friendly, and the loss will not be overly worrisome for the Mexicans. However, the game was played at Estadio Azteca, where the United States had previously not won a match in 24 attempts, only coming away with one draw.
The Mexican stadium is a monumentally difficult place to play. It is more than 7,300 feet in elevation and seats 110,000 manic fans, as noted by ESPN Los Angeles’ Scott French.
Mexico may have dominated the match. The statistics show that that El Tri had possession of the ball for 66 percent of the match and outshot the Americans 19-7, according to ESPN. The Americans harbor no illusions about the result, and Jurgen Klinsmann said the following after the game, via USSoccer.com:
We know that Tim Howard kept us in the game. We know that Mexico created far more chances than we did. They had far more possession and they have wonderful players. We admire them. I think that if you ask the Mexican players, they feel that there is an American team there that is very tough to beat. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck, which we had, to win in a game like that. When you’re on the field, you sense certain things that even the Mexican side felt that those Americans are tough to beat today.
Luck is an advantage that the United States has never had on their side before at Azteca. This victory has shattered the stigma that surrounded the iconic venue.
When the team travels to Azteca next, it will be for a World Cup qualifier against their arch rivals, and the match itself will be meaningful. When that happens, the players will travel to Mexico City knowing that the last time they were there, they managed to pull off a victory.
What will happen the next time the U.S. meets Mexico at Azteca?
This is starkly different from being unable to shake the thought that they have never won on the field they will be playing on. For a young player, struggling to breathe in thin air with over 100,000 fans cheering for you to fail while trying to do something that has never been accomplished before is monumentally difficult position to be in.
But the entire mindset will be different going forward, and the result could not have come at a better time. The popular perception was that the gap between the Mexicans and the Americans was widening, and the triumph of El Tri’s youngsters at the Olympics supported this idea.
It seemed as if the cards were being continually stacked against the United States as the 2014 World Cup drew nearer, but the momentum has been reversed.
The historic victory may be just an ugly 1-0 win in a friendly on its surface, but the importance of the result to the psyche of the American players will be hugely important going forward.
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