Posted on August 16, 2012
MEXICO CITY — Juergen Klinsmann was talking about the United States’ historic 1-0 victory over Mexico on Wednesday night.
“You need a little bit of luck too and in some instances we were a little bit lucky tonight and we had Tim Howard in our goal,.” he said.
And we had Tim Howard in goal. Howard seems to be in the middle of all important U.S. wins, whether it was the 2-0 upset of Spain at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup final or the dramatic, 11th-hour World Cup win over Algeria at the 2010 World Cup.
The former New York/New Jersey MetroStar and current Everton goalkeeper was a rock in goal for the Americans at Azteca Stadium, making three saves.
“I’ve said it many times over the last few years that he belongs to the top three goalkeepers in the world and he showed that tonight,” Klinsmann said. “He kept us in that game.”
Howard, who wore the captain’s armband for the first time in the absence of defender Carlos Bocanegra, saved his best for the final five minutes before stoppage time.
While going the wrong way in the 85th minute, he managed to snare a deflection of a Javier Hernandez shot. Four minutes later, Howard saved Hernandez’s point-blank attempt.
“It took a lot of grit and determination,” Howard said. “We went out there and played our hearts out tonight. It’s not lost on any of us that we made history. We’re just so proud of those guys. We worked hard. We played well and we had to weather their storm most of the game and we did that.”
The Americans entered the match without a win in 24 appearances in Mexico with a 0-23-1 mark.
“It’s something I’ve thought about for a long, long time,” Howard said. “We’ve never done it and in your national team career you might only get a few opportunities. The odds are against you. I’ve thought long and hard that if I could be a part of a team that won, we’d be a part of history. It’s special and it’s important to us. It’s not the end of the road, we’ve got a long way to go and we’ll keep working, but this is a huge step forward for us.”
Howard played in back of a makeshift backline that consisted Maurice Edu, normally a midfielder, and Geoff Cameron at central defense, and Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo at the outside fullback slots. Castillo was replaced by Michael Orozco Fiscal, who scored the game-winner in the 80th minute, three minutes piror.
“They were fantastic,” Howard said. “We didn’t have a lot of time to work the kinks out. We talked about it in the dressing room before that it wasn’t going to be perfect, but let’s work on it as the game goes and they were rock solid. Without those guys we would’ve lost the game tonight. They were absolutely outstanding.”
Not only did Howard have to battle a talented Mexico side, there were fans pointing lasers at him during the match.
“I think it’s the less you pay attention the better,” he said. “If you start calling attention to it, it seems like more lasers come out. Trying to get them to stop it would be futile. It’s part of the game now, you hope that the stadium and FIFA to do something about it, but we don’t expect it and just get on with it.”
Photo: Tim Howard denies Javier Hernandez late in the U.S.’s 1-0 win over Mexico. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: Mexico, North America, U.S.A.
Tags: Azteca Stadium, Edgar Castillo, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Juergen Klinsman, Maurice Edu, Tim Howard