Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press
Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press
MEXICO CITY – The United States ended 75 years of frustration in Mexico, winning at its southern neighbor and regional rival for the first time Wednesday night when Michael Orozco Fiscal’s goal in the 80th minute and Tim Howard’s late sprawling saves provided a 1-0 victory.
Dominated for most of the night, the Americans went ahead on a move created by a trio of second-half substitutes.
Brek Shea, who entered two minutes earlier, went down the left flank and around Severo Meza. Shea, back with the national team after being dropped for six months, crossed to Terrence Boyd. He made a quick backheel pass to Orozco Fiscal, who had entered in the 77th.
Orozco Fizcal, who plays in Mexico for San Luis, kicked the ball past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa for his first international goal.
Howard preserved the lead, changing directions to stop a deflected shot by Javier Hernandez in the 85th, then pawing away a 4-yard downward header by Chicharito in the 89th.
“I think it’s huge. It’s huge for I think 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, a lot of work.”
The U.S. had been 0-23-1 against El Tri in 75 years of games at Mexico, including 0-19-1 in the thin air at altitude in Mexico City – where they had 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 American 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.”
Mexico outshot the U.S. 15-6 and had a 10-0 advantage in corner kicks. But the Americans came away with their second big win this year, following February’s first-ever victory over Italy, in a friendly at Genoa.
With the European clubs seasons getting under way, the U.S. used a half-strength roster and a makeshift central defense.
Mexico, also below strength following the Olympics, dominated possession but failed to connect on several open 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. figures to have a lineup closer to full strength for a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica next month, on the road on Sept. 7 and at Columbus, Ohio, four days later. Mexico plays Costa Rica twice on those same days.
“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, left at the start of the second half because of a tight hamstring and DaMarcus Beasley came in for his 97th international appearance. Boyd came in at the same time to replace an ineffective Jose Torres.
Cameron got his head on a cross from Elias Hernandez in the 56th minute, preventing Hernandez from an open shot in front. A minute later, Jesus Zavala put an open header over the crossbar.
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 off a cross from Hernandez.
“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.”