MEXICO CITY -- Three thoughts on the U.S.' 1-0 victory against Mexico in a friendly Wednesday ...
• Here was history. For the first time in the U.S.-Mexico soccer rivalry, the United States beat Mexico on Mexican soil, leaving behind forever a trail of tears that had included 0 wins, 23 losses and one tie going back to 1937. An 80th-minute goal by Mexican-American Michael Orozco Fiscal made the difference after a nice sequence involving Brek Shea and Terrence Boyd led to Orozco Fiscal having a chance to finish past goalie Guillermo Ochoa. Mexico had the run of play, dominating possession, but the U.S. gained confidence as the second half progressed and got the 75-year-old monkey off its back. Tim Howard made two remarkable late stops to save the victory, and suddenly when you least expected it, a depleted U.S. lineup has found a way to get the win here that has so long been desired. Incredible.
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• This was a courageous defensive stand by the United States. Much of the credit for the U.S. win goes to a hard-fought defensive effort that kept Mexico from scoring despite El Tri's mastery of possession. Aside from Howard's acrobatics, Geoff Cameron in particular had a terrific game in the central defense, showing that he could be a force moving forward in important games. Edgar Castillo also did well at left back, and Maurice Edu and Fabian Johnson also had solid games on the back line. Their efforts created the opportunity for the U.S. to pull a smash-and-grab and get the late winner. Let's be honest: This wasn't the beautiful game from the U.S., but the Americans did show some serious *cojones* to hang in, especially at a time when there has been so much talk about Mexican soccer leaving the U.S. behind. The gap between these two teams isn't as big as some perceive, but it helps to get results to show that.
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• The U.S. played better in the second half. The U.S. gained confidence in the second half and were improved after the removal of three players who didn't do well in the attack: José Torres, Danny Williams and Landon Donovan. Williams has rarely done much of anything positive in the attack, and that didn't change here, though perhaps that's a result of his being played out of position on the right (when he's more comfortable as a defensive midfielder). Torres doesn't defend, so he needs to bring something to the table in the central midfield passing-wise, and that just didn't happen. As for Donovan, he was dealing with hamstring issues and came off at halftime, but not before failing to make an impact on the few times the U.S. pushed into the attacking half of the field. But on a night the U.S. made history, nobody was worried about those contributions. Shea, Orozco Fiscal and Boyd -- all three of them subs -- made the difference on a play and a night that U.S. fans will never forget.