US claims historic win over Mexico at Azteca

Published Thursday, August 16, 2012 5:44 AM by Shane Barrow

Nobody could have seen this one coming.  Perhaps only Jurgen Klinsmann I guess. He had said all along the Americans were coming to Azteca to win.  Few took him seriously though.

The US had never won there in 75 years.  Lost 23 times in 24 matches there.  They had not been beaten there in 11 years.

Tonight would be different.  The US were ready and executed. They survived the opening 20 minutes.  In fact, Mexico was pretty quiet the entire first half despite having the lionshare of the ball.

Mexico were intent on playing cross and finish soccer and the American back four were more than ready.  Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu were very good in the middle turning away cross after cross.  The game went scoreless to the half and the US were gaining confidence.

The second half trickled along like the first.  Mexico pushing a bit and the US absorbing pressure.  In the 76th minute Chicharito found some space and should have scored a header from in tight.  Instead he flashed the ball wide and the match remained scoreless.  That was about to change though as the US brought on Brek Shea.

Within minutes Shea made his impact.  He found space on the left and raced past Severo Meza and into the Mexico penalty area.  He slid the ball into the six where a deft backheel from Boyd found Michael Orozco Fiscal to poke home for the lead.  The huge home crowd were in shock as the Americans celebrated.  Now could they hang on the the slim lead?

Ten minutes to go and it was Tim Howard time.  Chicharito looked to have tied it in the 85th as his deflected shot bounced towards goal.  Howard was going to his right and had to quickly change direction to his left to get his glove on the ball before pouncing on it to prevent the shot from crossing the goal line.

One more big chance for Mexico remained.  In the 89th minute Chicharito challenged Geoff Cameron and headed the ball at close range toward the near right side of the goal. Howard once again came up with a clutch save to his left, parrying with his left hand to keep Mexico and its much-heralded attack off the score sheet.

The US had their historic victory and Mexico were left shaking their heads.

“I think it’s huge. It’s huge for all American fans and it’s huge for the team. It’s historic,” US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “We were well aware we’ve never won here at Azteca, and this is an amazing experience for all the players. We told them before the game, ‘This moment is for you, go and grab it.’ We are aware that it was a lot of work and it was a fantastic team performance.”