Mexico’s First Loss to U.S. at Home, on a Mexican American’s Goal

Los Angeles Times, August 16, 2012

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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.

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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.

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