BY PATRICK MacDONALD
The euphoria has died down a little since the U.S.’s historic win against Mexico last night. Well, not much, but enough that perspective can be clearly brought to the table when analyzing what it all means.
Make no mistake – Wednesday’s win at Estadio Azteca was, as Jurgen Klinsmann himself put it, “huge” for the USMNT. Friendly or not, the U.S. can finally point to that date as the time when they got the monkey off their back in Mexico. The advantage in Mexico is still heavily tilted to El Tri, but when these two teams presumably meet in World Cup qualification, the task of going down to Mexico and winning will seem just a little less daunting.
One thing this win does not do however is erase the last couple of years of Mexican dominance in CONCACAF. In fact, it shines a little bit more on the fact that when the U.S. was “dominating,” they were actually only going .500 considering they always lost South of the Border.
On the other hand, it does prove that the gap between the U.S. and Mexico is not as far as many thought. The USMNT won with what essentially was a B team. Mexico had most of their best players on the field for 90 minutes – including Javier Hernandez. This also isn’t the first instance that the gap is closing between Mexico and the U.S. as this isn’t the first American win in Mexico. Last season during the CONCACAF Champions League, FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders won matches on Mexican soil. It was the first time across all competitions that an American team of any sort won.
On Wednesday, Klinsmann merely followed that groundwork laid by MLS squads.
Now, what can be learned going forward with World Cup Qualification? One of the biggest things to come out of Mexico City is that Brek Shea got his groove back. Shea reminded everyone of the enormous amount of talent he has, playing like he did when Klinsmann first brought him into the fold. When Shea is on, the left side comes alive and makes this team drastically better offensively. It’s no coincidence that when Shea was absent in June, Klinsmann had no idea what to do in that spot.
The other player who did himself a huge favor that just may earn him a start in September is Geoff Cameron who was magnificent at CB. When one of the world’s most dangerous strikers is kept off the scoresheet, Klinsmann and company have to take notice. If Cameron carries that form to the EPL, the centerback situation for the U.S. is gonna clear up real fast.
Terrance Boyd is yet another player who’s stock continues it’s steady rise. He certainly made the Mexican defenders sweat a little, even if he wasn’t totally dangerous, and his back heel flick to set up Orozco Fiscal was a thing of beauty. He should definitely be called up against Jamaica.
Also, what of the Liga MX based players? Herculez Gomez definitely isn’t going anywhere. It would also appear that both Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco Fiscal have played themselves back into contention. Castillo played better in June than he had when Klinsmann first took over, so he may very well be progressing nicely. Last night was Orozco Fiscal’s first good game in the Stars and Stripes – and oh what a game it was. It’d be foolish to say he’ll be starting immediately and through 2014, but he certainly has re-entered the conversation.
DaMarcus Beasley’s stock holds steady.
Then there’s Jose Francisco Torres. If there was ever a time to shine for the young midfielder, last night should have been it. Once again, he looked lost playing for the national team. It’s hard to see him getting a call in September.
All in all, there is plenty to build on and plenty to be proud of. One can only hope that on September 7th in Kingston, Jamaica, Klinsmann’s boys look like they’ve finally put all the pieces together.