Historic USA Victory in Mexico Displays Importance of Youth
When America won the friendly match at Azteca Stadium for the first time ever in over 75 years of matches between the two nations, the USA could rejoice in happiness. Although our soccer team has yet to win a major international tournament, the national team has won quite a few impressive matches, and the list just continues to grow after this most recent victory.
What made the win even more impressive was that manager Jurgen Klinsmann rolled the dice and gave a couple young players a great opportunity to change the game, and that is exactly what they did. The USA was without star forward Clint Dempsey for this match so many counted America out and figured Mexico would hand us a frightful beating.
But Brek Shea was able to make a grand run at goal in the 80th minute, featuring a brilliant nutmeg of a Mexican defender. He pushed dangerously close and placed the ball square across goal to Terrence Boyd. Boyd had his back towards the goal and was unlikely to score, so he made a cheeky back heel pass to the backside which Michael Orozco Fiscal was able to poke into the net and send the Americans into jubilation.
The fascinating thing for me is that the respective ages of these players are 22, 21, and 26. Only Shea has made more than 10 appearances for the country (he has 12), and yet these three players combined for the goal that erased 75 years of bad memories in the USA-Mexico rivalry.
This highlights the importance of youth in soccer. Young players are desperate to gain recognition and opportunities at the international level. Especially during friendlies, when most veterans may relax and take the game easy, some youngsters will have the drive and energy to make the difference.
Another benefit that youth have in these games is a shorter memory. The USA Men’s National Team had played 24 games at the Azteca Stadium and had only managed 1 draw. Older players like Landon Donovan have endured several painful defeats at the grounds and may lose confidence due to the harsh memories.
Not so for the youngsters. They are fortunate enough to never have experienced such trauma, and apparently had no fear as they combined in a simply stunning link up of quality. This goal was world class and resembled something of the “Joga Bonito” typically employed only by Brazil. Therefore, I commend Jurgen Klinsmann for giving the young players a chance to deliver, and I feel that America will have plenty of reasons to get excited for our squad in the coming years as these guys develop.