If you had asked 1,000 soccer people if the US could pull of a win in Mexico on Wednesday night in Mexico City I am willing to bet 999 would have told you no. Yet as we have seen before sometimes things just go your way.
For the USMNT it wasn't a beautiful match, it was a rough, rugged defensive effort and some amazing saves by Tim Howard in goal that allowed the US to hang with Mexico. Then a solid play by Kyle Beckerman to recover a ball in the Mexico half of the pitch and a pass to Brek Shea who had just entered the match, and then a back heel by Terrance Boyd that was pushed in goal by Michael Orosco Fiscal that gave the US a 1-0 lead in the 80th minute of the match. Then it was that solid defense that was able to withstand everything Mexico could throw at them, and then 4 minutes of added time and when the final whistle blew it was history that was being made as the United States Men's National Team picked up their first ever win in Mexico their record is now 1-23-1.
I will be honest I was one of the 999, I thought the US would probably go down 2-0 or 3-1 on the night, but as the match progressed it was clear that the defensive work was being done by the US and that will always give you a chance to win.
The stars on the night were almost guys who's work was done on the defensive side of the ball. Let's start with Tim Howard, he made the saves that were needed when they were needed, despite a laser pointer in his eyes all night and a very loud crowd, he was able to keep a new back line organized against a very good Mexican National Team.
more thoughts after the jump:
While Geoff Cameron might be done playing in Major League Soccer, he is far from done playing and tonight he was simply the best defensive player for the US, he made some great plays to keep Mexico off the scoreboard. I can't wait to see how he does playing in the English Premier League, I think it will help him take his game to an even better level.
Then there was Kyle Beckerman, now of course it is hard for me to be objective when it comes to Kyle, having watched him gone from one of RSL's most hated opponents to being one of the most beloved players and really one of the faces of the organization. That being said, on the night Kyle was rock solid, perhaps the only mistake on the night was giving up a corner kick early on, but on the night there are a couple things that I thought Kyle did that stood out. First, he provided as much of an outlet from the US midifield as anyone, his passing was spot on and while the US had a hard time keeping possession it wasn't from bad passes by Kyle. Second, he applied pressure at opportune moments of the match, so the goal started with Kyle picking up an errant ball in the Mexico half of the pitch and he quickly found an charging Brek Shea who was able to spark the US to a goal. There were a number of time when Kyle forced a turnover or simply played a ball back into mixer after it was cleared by Mexico. Heck one of those almost ended up in a flukish goal as he popped a ball back into the area after it was cleared out by Mexico and just inches from beating the keeper for a goal.
I was also impressed with the work rate of Terrance Boyd who showed that he has the physical tools to be disruptive to opposing defenses and who despite not having a way to put the ball that eventually was the game winning goal in the net himself, he simply put it into the path of a teammate using the back of his heel in a crowded box.
Then there was Brek Shea, all match there simply weren't many US players willing to attack the Mexican defenders, that was until Brek came into the match and did just that to create the chance that lead to the goal. For me that was solid work, but it was seeing him then playing all over the pitch on both sides of the ball and going 100% every minute that he was on the pitch. I know that he has had his challenges this year in MLS, but he is a player who has a special gift and ability and I really hope that he can channel that into every match he plays in at every level, he can become a player who is very special for the US.
So what a magical night, I can only imagine what the players of the USMNT are feeling tonight, a night when they not only shocked most of the soccer world, but a night where lowered expectations of many didn't impact their heart or effort in a match played in what is one of the most hostile environments possible for them. Remember these names:
DEFENDERS (6): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steven Beithasour (San Jose Earthquakes), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Well done guys!!
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