The US Men's National Soccer Team pulled off the improbable, finally defeating rival Mexico 1-0 at daunting Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. I will admit, it feels great writing this.
No one gave the US a chance. Why would they? Mexican soccer is at an all-time high coming off an Olympic gold medal. The US on the other hand did not qualify for the Olympics. Mexico also thumped the US in the Gold Cup Final at the Rose Bowl last year. The talk leading up to the game was about "the gap" between the two programs. Mexico brought their top team. The US brought an experimental line up without mainstays Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore. The central defense would include Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu instead of captain Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu. While Mexico brought stars, the US brought the unknown. This game was supposed to be a blowout and a party at Azteca.
The Mexican side dominated possession throughout, but the US defense anchored by Geoff Cameron held firm keeping El Tri out of the net. The US side showed poise and gained confidence maintaining their defensive play as the game progressed. The midfield was anchored by the play of RSL's Kyle Beckerman who played magnificent, controlling the ball and stabilizing play.
As the game crept toward the final 10 minutes, a surprising 0-0 score lit the scoreboard. On a night of defensive heroics, the US needed one magic moment to make history. That moment came in the 79th minute from an unlikely source. Brek Shea, who has been experiencing a nightmare season in MLS, took the ball down the left side of the penalty area, went through his defender's legs, found Terrence Boyd in the box who heel kicked the ball to Michael Orozco Fiscal who put the ball in net to put the US on top 1-0. The American celebration was followed by a barrage of Mexican shots led by Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, but American keeper Tim Howard made two miraculous saves to keep Mexico off the board.
After what felt like the longest four minutes of stoppage time ever, the whistle blew, and the US finally won in Mexico. Hell yes!
1. Geoff Cameron is the real deal. There is always the question about whether a MLS player (recent transfer to Stoke City) can duplicate club success at the international level. There is no question that Cameron can get the job done. He is one of the best options in central defense on the path to World Cup 2014.
2. It appears that there are multiple spots up for grabs on the US roster. This should excite fans of the Stars and Stripes. Klinsmann has shown a willingness to reward club success and to play different players no matter where they play club soccer. The inclusion of players like Cameron, Corona, Beckerman, and Boyd have paid off. There is no room for petty politics or favorites at the international level and Klinsmann gets it.
3. The US has now defeated Italy and Mexico on the road in 2012. If you are the type of person to belittle such wins because they are "friendlies" do yourself a favor and save it. Winning games against teams like Mexico and Italy are huge. These wins will serve the US well when they battle in the hostile environment of World Cup 2014.