A makeshift USA team stunned Mexico in the Azteca Stadium last night, beating Mexico 1-0. It was the first time that the US has won in Mexico in 75 years. The best the US had done previously was a draw.
You cannot overstate the importance of this win, especially after 23 defeats in 24 visits to Mexico. Now, when the U.S. goes back next year as part of World Cup Qualifying, the team will travel to Mexico with a the belief and understanding that winning in Mexico City isn’t some unimaginable and unreachable dream of a goal.
And that is probably the biggest change that Jurgen Klinsmann has brought to the Americans. After beating Italy in Italy and now Mexico in Mexico City, the U.S. players will go into the rest of World Cup qualifying with the belief that they can win anywhere. That they don’t have to rely on their home form to qualify for Brazil in 2014.
And Klinsmann alluded to that after the game saying:
“I think in such a moment that is very special for us. It’s a wonderful moment because winning a game against a very good Mexican team that we have a lot of respect for at the Azteca Stadium, that means a lot to us. That was very difficult for us and Tim Howard made some unbelievable saves, and I’ve said it many times over the last few years that he belongs to the top 3 goalkeepers in the world and he showed that tonight. He kept us in that game and also our belief in winning here kept us in the game. It’s a very special moment for our team and for fans.”
Mexico fans will point to the fact that they were missing Giovani Dos Santos, but the U.S. can counter that this win came without Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore (and a healthy Landon Donovan).
What the U.S. did have though was Tim Howard, who once again showed that he is head and shoulders above any other goalkeeper in CONCACAF. He was sensational last night and kept the U.S. in the game. Here are the best Howard saves from last night: