August 16, 2012

There's a First Time For Everything

By - Andy Garcia

The unthinkable happened Wednesday night.

The U.S. men's soccer team defeated their Mexican arch rivals in Mexico for the first time in 75 years. It wasn't that the American national squad had gone three quarters of a century since their last victory south of the border, it was their first road win against the southern neighbors -- EVER.

Photo by: Miguel Tovar
Both sides were missing key players, it was only an international friendly, and had the favorite won the match, it wouldn't have been a very big deal. But the fact that the U.S. was 0-23-1 against the CONCACAF powerhouse on Mexican soil, made the victory that much more significant.

The historical night was not as pretty as one might think, however.

For much of the game, Mexico dominated. They controlled ball possession for 66% of the time, had 19 total shots (only 2 on goal) to the Americans 7 (3 on goal), and had 10 corner kicks while the U.S. had 0. The red, white, and green had chance after chance to put the ball in the net, but could not find a way.

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez was the biggest culprit. The Manchester United striker had numerous chances to put the home team ahead.

Much credit can be given to the American defense.

Center backs Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu both had stellar performances. They held their ground throughout the entire match despite the Mexican onslaught. Goalkeeper Tim Howard also came up huge, showing once again that he is one of the world's best.

With only a few minutes away from stoppage time, Hernandez had a pair of attempts denied by Howard­­. It was the cherry on top to a solid overall effort by the Everton goalkeeper.

While ball possession plays a very important role in winning a match, it does not always prove to be the defining statistic in this sport.

A team can dominate all game long, but if they can't push the ball through the goal, they can't win. All it takes is one try. If the opponents capitalize on ONE opportunity, they can win the match. In essence, any team can win on any given night.

That is the beauty of soccer -- and that is what happened Wednesday night.

Brek Shea had just come on in the 78th minute, one minute prior to igniting one of the biggest plays of his young career. On an offensive attack from the left flank, he dribbled into the box, put the ball through Mexican defender Severo Meza's legs, and crossed it to Terrance Boyd, a fellow 2nd half substitute. Boyd had his back to the goal and gave an unbelievable heel pass to Michael Orozco Fiscal who poked the ball in for the game winner. Fiscal had just been subbed into the game a couple minutes before scoring his first international goal.

What a way to be at the right place, at the right time.

Although the U.S. won the first meeting back in 1934, The Northern American Classic was never much of a rivalry. Mexico dominated for a long period of time. They even went on a 24-match unbeaten streak, winning 23 of the first 28 encounters.

Times have changed since then. In the 1990's, the U.S. improved their style of play and began to compete with their Mexican counterparts.

The rivalry was now official.

Beginning in 2000, the U.S. went on a 9-year streak, where Mexico only managed to come away with wins in El Estadio Azteca -- the greatest victory for the Americans being in the 2002 World Cup Round of 16 where they knocked El Tri out 2-0.

Since 2009, Mexico has re-gained the upper hand, by defeating the U.S. on American soil in both the 2009 and 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cups. They also raised their international stature by winning a second U-17 World Cup, a gold medal in the 2011 Pan American Games, and an Olympic gold medal in the 2012 London Games.

The win for the Americans at El Estadio Azteca was not just one for the record books -- it was an enormous confidence booster as well.

It appeared Mexico was on the verge of elevating their play and widening the gap against the Stars and Stripes, but with the win on Wednesday night, the U.S. has rekindled the rivalry.


  1. no tiene mucha importancia. fue sólo un partido amistoso. EE.UU. no puedes ganar cuando realmente importa.

    1. Si México lo hubiera ganado, no importaría, pero para los Estados Unidos sí fué muy importante. Pero México no tiene porque estar preocupados porque dominaron el partido y deberían de haber ganado.