By FRANCO PANIZO
Mexico had lost just eight times in 119 matches at Estadio Azteca and never against the U.S. men's national team heading into their friendly on Wednesday night. But thanks to some disciplined defending, key saves and an opportunitic goal, the Americans changed all that en route to making history.
The United States grabbed its first win inside of the famed Estadio Azteca on Wednesday, beating its southern rivals, 1-0, thanks to a late second half goal from substitute Michael Orozco. The victory was not only the first for the Americans at the soccer cathedral, but also on Mexico soil, having gone 0-23-1 prior to the latest match in the heated rivalry.
While Orozco's 80th-minute goal, his first at the international level, was the difference, the Americans would not have won had it not been for their gritty defending and a pair of late stops by goalkeeper Tim Howard. The United States netminder spectacularly denied Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez on two potential equalizing chances, giving the U.S. team a confidence-boosting win that has been 75 years in the making.
Orozco netted the winner three minutes after entering the game on a play that a trio of American substitutes combined in. Brek Shea beat a Mexican defender down the left side before hitting a low cross to the middle of the penalty area to Terrence Boyd. Boyd trapped the ball and ensued by hitting a heeled pass to Orozco, who stabbed home from close range to stun the less-than-full Estadio Azteca.
Playing without some of their top players, the Americans had kept the game scoreless to that point due to some dogged defending from Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu, who started alongside one another in central defense despite lacking experience as centerbacks. The duo also benefitted from some timely interventions from Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, who ran tirelessly as Mexico sent in attack after attack for much of the match.
The hosts, who were also without some of their regulars, dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes and had chances to go ahead in the second half. But Hernandez failed to put away some decent looks, including on an open header in the second half.
That opened the door for Jurgen Klinsmann's team to do the unthinkable and take a lead that they would not relinquish, sending El Tri and their fans with their first taste of defeat in the past five games of the North American rivalry. Klinsmann, who debuted as U.S. head coach against Mexico last August, is now 1-0-1 against the Mexicans.
What do you think of the United States' 1-0 win over El Tri? Who was your Man of the Match? How much confidence does this give the Americans going forward?
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