It was around 12:30 am Eastern time. The location-- Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The United States soccer team had stood on its head defensively to hold Mexico to a scoreless tie. It was a major point the United States made-- both literally, with a vital World Cup soccer qualifying point on the road; and figuratively, adding to a friendly win the U.S. got at the Azteca in 2012.
Imagine just how tough it is to get a tie-- much less a win-- at the Azteca for the U.S. National team. Imagine you are standing there in 80-plus degree heat, in a stadium at 7,200 feet altitude, with smog so thick you can barely breathe. Oh, did I also throw in 110,000 screaming Mexicans all around you-- some throwing objects at you, and many calling you a bunch of vile names? Yeah, imagine that-- and imagine playing a home team there in the top 20 in the world. Now you may get an idea of how tough it is to play at the Azteca.
Just after midnight at the Azteca, the United States got the result it wanted. The Americans didn't expect to win-- not with a patchwork defense decimated by injuries. Not with the memories of former U.S.-Mexico games-- including the Americans' win over Mexico in 2002 in the World Cup Round of 16, leading the U-S to its best World Cup result in 72 years. And especially not with the Mexican fans and press criticizing their own team-- El Tricolores are fifth in the six-team qualifying group right now.
Heroes? There were a few. The American defense bending but not breaking. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan-- the Aston Villa stopper in for the injured Tim Howard. He is in great form for Villa, and he showed it in the ultimate pressure cooker-- the Azteca. Finally, the American resolve was on full display-- grind out a tie, and get out of Dodge. That is exactly what they did...
The Americans are in the automatic World Cup qualifying spots at this time. And the best news? They now have time to get healthy, before they have to play again. They face a huge three-game qualifying knot in the summer; those three games may either make--or break-- their chances to make their seventh-straight World Cup.
That is all in the future though. Right now, enjoy the point the American's made-- literally and figuratively-- just after midnight. Midnight at the Azteca.
That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.