BEIRUT

Football

U.S. win 1-0 in Mexico City for their first victory in 75 years

  • U.S. Michael Orozco celebrates with teammates after scoring during a friendly soccer game against Mexico in Mexico City, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

  • Zusi, Boyd and Orozco Fizcal celebrate the goal which clinched victory against Mexico.

  • U.S. Michael Orozco celebrates his goal during the second half of their soccer friendly match against Mexico at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, August 15, 2012. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)

MEXICO CITY: The United States ended 75 years of frustration in Mexico, winning away against their southern rivals for the first time Wednesday night when Michael Orozco Fiscal’s goal in the 80th minute and late saves by Tim Howard provided a 1-0 victory.

Dominated for most of the night, the U.S. went ahead with a move inspired by a trio of second-half substitutes.

Brek Shea, back with the national team after a six months absence, made an impact just two minutes after entering the field. Flying down the left flank and round Severo Meza, Shea crossed the ball to Terrence Boyd, who with a quick back heel found Orozco Fiscal, who had entered in the 77th.

Orozco Fizcal, who plays in Mexico for San Luis, fired a shot past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa for his first international goal.

Howard preserved the lead, changing direction well to keep out a deflected shot by Javier Hernandez in the 85th minute, then again to deny a header by the Manchester United forward in the 89th.

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

With just one draw south of the border, the U.S. have lost 23 times over 75 years of games in Mexico, losing 19 times in Mexico City alone where they have been outscored 81-14.

“Tim Howard kept us in the game I don’t know how many times,” said Klinsmann, who has been trying to change the defensive mindset the Americans had at times under Bob Bradley. “It’s a mental aspect of it. Eventually, you need a little bit of luck too, and I think in some instances we were lucky tonight.”

It was the second historic win for the Americans this year, following their first-ever victory over Italy in a friendly in Genoa in February.

With the European club football getting under way, the U.S. were forced to use a half-strength squad with a makeshift defense.

Mexico, also below strength following the Olympics, dominated possession but failed to connect with several clear shots as the Americans paired Maurice Edu and Geoff Cameron in the center of their back line.

The game marked the start of the Americans’ second year under Klinsmann, who replaced Bradley last summer after Mexico overcame a two-goal deficit to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup final 4-2.

The U.S. aims to have a lineup close to full strength for a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica next month, away Sept. 7 and at home in Columbus, Ohio, four days later. Mexico face Costa Rica on the same dates.

“We know we have to improve in many, many elements,” Klinsmann said. “We have to keep the ball longer. We have to create more chances. We have to do a lot of work still. But I think this gives us a lot of confidence.”

Landon Donovan, searching for his 50th international goal, withdrew at the start of the second half with a tight hamstring, replaced by DaMarcus Beasley who came on for his 97th international appearance, with Boyd coming on to replace an ineffective Jose Torres.

With Ochoa off his line, Kyle Beckerman put a long, sliding shot just over the crossbar in the 60th.

Andres Guardado hooked a free kick just wide to Howard’s right post in the 65th after Cameron fouled Hernandez just outside the penalty area. Hernandez then sent an open header wide in the 76th after good build up work.

“It was very difficult in high altitude, with many of them flying in from Europe two days ago,” Klinsmann said. “But we had a plan, and we tried to execute that plan and getting that win here, I mean it’s quite enjoyable.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 17, 2012, on page 15.

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