Mexico’s first loss to U.S. at home, on a Mexican American’s goal
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MEXICO CITY -- It was a sweet Olympic gold victory for Mexican soccer, yes. But that was last week.
On Wednesday night, Mexico was defeated by the United States in a friendly match at the cavernous high-altitude Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, 1-0, the first win for the U.S. on Mexican soil in 75 years of a storied and often bitter rivalry.
The only goal of the game came from U.S. defender Michael Orozco Fiscal, 26, a Mexican American native of Orange.
When it happened, in the 79th minute, utter silence seemed to befall the entire Mexican capital for a second or two. The United States had not won a single game at the Azteca, and Mexico had barely lost there against any opponent, in official matches or friendlies.
Watch the game-winning goal here:
Mexico’s current sports superstar, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez -- who didn’t play for gold in London in the men’s soccer final on Saturday -- attempted a few desperate strikes in the final minutes to salvage the game.
But U.S. goalie Tim Howard delivered crucial saves for the Americans, despite being battered with harrasment from the stands, a custom relished by fans at the Azteca. (At least one pesky person Wednesday was distracting the U.S. goalie with the light of a green laser.)
There was surprisingly little bad blood for Orozco in Mexico’s media the next morning and among armchair analysts online.
Where could an ardently nationalist fan draw a line on criticism anyway? The U.S. friendly roster is rife with border-blurring athletes, a reflection of the complex historical migration patterns between the countries, and maybe a little of that free-trade spirit that has defined the binational relationship since 1994.
Edgar Castillo, a defender born in Las Cruces, N.M., has played for both the Mexican and U.S. national teams. Midfielder Joe Corona -- half-Mexican, half-Salvadoran and born in Los Angeles -- plays professionally for Tijuana. And Herculez Gomez, born in L.A. to Mexican American parents, plays in Mexico for Pachuca.
Game-winner Orozco’s parents are from the Mexican states of Durango and Queretaro. He was born in Orange County but plays professionally in Mexico for San Luis.
‘That’s history,’ he told one news outlet after the game. ‘It does leave a mark in my heart.’
-- Daniel Hernandez