August 15, 2012
Howard, Orozco Fiscal lift USA to its first win in Mexico, 1-0
MEXICO CITY — The United States broke a 75-year winless streak against its biggest rivals on Wednesday night.
|Tim Howard produced a pair of late saves to preserve the U.S. win.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Second-half substitute Michael Orozco Fiscal scored in the 80th minute and goalkeeper Tim Howard made two late saves to make sure the lead stood up to boost the Americans to their first international victory ever in Mexico, recording a 1-0 triumph over the Mexicans at Azteca Stadium..
The U.S. had entered the encounter never having walked out of a game in Mexico with a win as El Tri owned a 23-0-1 record, dating back to a 7-2 thrashing in 1937.
The winning goal was touched by three second-half substitutes. Brek Shea beat his man on the left flank and sent the ball into the middle of the penalty area to Terrence Boyd. Boyd, standing with his back to the goal, backheeled the ball to Orozco Fiscal, who slipped it past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Orozco Fiscal had replaced Edgar Castillo in the 77th minute a minute before Shea had replaced striker Herculez Gomez.
"It’s huge," U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann said. "It’s huge for all American fans and it’s huge for the team. It’s historic. We were well aware that we’ve never won here at Azteca and this is an amazing experience for all the players.
“It was a fantastic team performance. This gives us a lot of confidence.”
Howard produced two late saves on Javier (Chicharito) Hernandez to preserve the win. While going the wrong way in the 85th minute, he managed to snare a deflection of a Hernandez shot. Four minutes later, Howard saved Hernandez’s point-blank attempt.
"Tim Howard kept us in the game I don’t know how many times," Klinsmann said. "It was an absolutely fantastic performance by Tim."
U.S. forward Landon Donovan, who was replaced by Terrence Boyd at halftime due tightness in his right hamstring, has played at Azteca several times and he understood the significance of the victory.
"I think the belief would be there now that we can do it," he said. "We want to keep in all in perspective, we didn’t play in a World Cup final tonight, but I think we’re excited about the prospect of what we did.”
Donovan gave credit to Klinsmann, who made the players believe in themselves.
“It takes a lot of everything," he said. "It takes a lot of hard work on a difficult field against a difficult opponent with difficult conditions. It takes belief and I think Jurgen did a great job this week of making us believe we can do it. It takes them missing some chances and us scoring the chance we got.”
Mexico deployed eight players from the team that defeated El Salvador in a recent World Cup qualifying match, while the U.S. used essentially a team composed of players from Major League Soccer, those based in a Mexico and several from Europe.
With Klinsmann using an experimental back four, the visitors managed to battle El Tri to a scoreless deadlock at halftime. Central defenders Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu did a solid job on Hernandez, who did not get off a shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes.
“It’s important in a moment that we’re in a transition period, you try to introduce new elements to the game and try to change a couple of things," Klinsmann said. "Having success in friendly games helps you because it helps you from a team side and that they believe more in what we’re doing. When we have a few days with players in camp, we hit them with a lot of things and we’re trying out new elements. We want to try and get closer to the top 10 nations in the world. We know we’re not there yet. Does it mean a lot to us winner at Azteca Stadium even if we have some luck? Yes, it does.”
Led by playmaking midfielder Andres Guardado, Mexico enjoyed almost a 2-to-1 advantage in possession in the first half, but could not convert. The hosts would try a shot, cross or pass that did not connect. The Americans would get possession, try to cross midfield and then invariably give the ball back to the Mexicans.
The Mexicans picked up to where they left off in the second half. Hernandez, on the right flank, forced Howard to slap his attempt away with both hands in the 52nd minute.
The U.S. threatened twice in the 61st minute, giving Ochoa some rare action and even a scare in the 61st minute. Gomez finally put the U.S.’s first shot on net, but the keeper caught his long-range attempt. Only seconds later, Kyle Beckermann tried to chip Ochoa from distance as the ball just missed the crossbar.
Three minutes later, Guardado curled an 18-yard free kick around the defensive wall, but the ball missed its ended targer — the upper left corner.
Hernandez almost gave El Tri the lead in the 77th minute as he headed a right-wing cross from halftime substitute Elias Hernandez just left of the net.
At halftime, the members of Mexico’s Olympic gold-medal winning team were honored for their historic achievement in London after they defeated favored Brazil, 2-1, in the final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
The Mexicans will play Costa Rica in a home-and-home series, visiting the Central Americans on Sept. 7 and hosting them on Sept. 11. The Americans will do the same with Jamaica, visiting the Caribbean side on Sept. 7 and hosting it four days later.