The USMNT defied the odds and critics tonight with a 1-0 victory over Mexico in Estadio Azteca. It was a night many fans of the Stars and Stripes won't soon forget. Here are my three positives from tonight's match:
1. Confidence should be sky high going into important World Cup Qualifiers.
The USMNT surprised many tonight. Fielding what many called a "B team" due to the absences of Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and captain Carlos Bocanegra, the US came in as the underdog. Add in factors like an 0-23-1 all-time record in Mexico and that Mexico was celebrating its recent Gold Medal in the Olympics while fielding most of its normal starting line-up, and things did not look good on paper. But the boys battled with a strong defensive mindset and capitalized on a great sequence sparked by Brek Shea's between-the-defender's-legs move and cross to Terrence Boyd who heel passed to Michael Orozco Fiscal for the tap-in goal. Watch the goal here on YouTube
With two qualifying matches against a decent Jamaica squad coming up next month, this was a great confidence boost for some youngsters who played significant roles in tonight's memorable victory. Jamaica will be the biggest test for the US in the semifinal round of qualifying, so the timing could not have been better.
2. Geoff Cameron continued his meteoric rise.
Cameron has had an amazing summer. After his recently signed agreement to join Stoke City in the English Premier League, many were looking forward to seeing how Cameron fared in containing Chicharito and the Mexican offensive attack. Cameron did not disappoint, clearing many balls and playing a physical style that seemed to frustrate the home squad. Cameron and Clarence Goodson have been solid in recent matches, giving the US some great options in the back moving forward in qualifiers.
3. Stay classy, Tim Howard.
The net minder of our USMNT has never played a more impressive road match in my eyes, especially in the second half when he flat out robbed Mexico of two goals. With a completely new lineup of defenders in front of him - again - Howard was called on to bark out positioning and coverage orders and did so as flawlessly as always. As Howard prepares for another season as one of the EPL's best goalkeepers, we were reminded once again how fortunate we are to have him leading the American squad.