[MEXICO-USA REPORT CARD] The Americans were shorthanded for their latest trip to Estadio Azteca, yet they won there for the first time, 1-0, with a goal by Michael Orozco Fiscal and the defensive work of Tim Howard and Geoff Cameron. Three subs -- Brek Shea, Terence Boyd and Orozco teamed up for the goal that stunned Mexico in the 79th minute. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players in what was the first U.S. win on Mexican soil. ...
GRADE/PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
7 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 79/0.
He wasn't seriously tested until the final minutes, during which he parried a deflected shot with an athletic recovery, and then stoned Mexico with a superb reflect save of a point-blank header. As one of only three players with experience against Mexico in the Azteca, he led the troops magnificently.
6 Fabian Johnson (Hoffeinheim/GER) 7/0.
Started at right back and finished on the left while playing a huge role in containing wingers Pablo Barrera and Andres Guardado, and also patrolling the back post when crosses arrived from the opposite wing. His covering clearance bailed out Edu midway through the second half.
6 Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers/SCO) 38/1.
Freed of those bothersome ball-distributing duties required in midfield, he marked tightly, and tackled confidently. He cut off a few promising balls played behind him but wasn't always quick enough to deal with dangerous situations coming from the flanks. He seemed a step ahead of Mexican playmaker Angel Reyna while adding a vital element -- speed -- that the centerback slot has lacked.
7 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG) 6/0.
Very solid and reliable for most of the night, aside from a mistimed slide tackle in the opening minutes. Still, Javier Hernandez got three good looks, one of which he headed wide with Cameron completely marooned. Cameron took advantage of Mexico's strange dearth of pressure to pass accurately and performed admirably given the short preparation time and intimidating venue. He won balls in the air and dished out a few teeth-rattling tackles. He almost certainly prevented a goal by just getting his head to a cross arrowing to a wide-open Chicharito.
4 Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana) 7/0.
A defensive nightmare, plain and simple. Mexico's few first-half attacks exposed his corner, and halftime sub Elias Hernandez scorched him repeatedly. His poor positioning and one-v-one weaknesses were glaring and though he certainly can, and did, use the ball effectively in the middle third he simply didn't measure up defensively.
5 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 22/2.
Committed his usual share of fouls and took his customary caution while squelching a lot of what Mexico tried through the middle. He also dropped deep to head away a few crosses when Mexico aimed balls for midfielders arriving late.
4 Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/GER) 6/0.
He seemed off his game from the first minute and never got into any sort of flow. He stepped into tackles well enough, but in the attack his decisions and timing were lacking, except for a throw-in to Herculez Gomez that set up a chance.
6 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 22/1.
Lost at times but tuned-in more often than not, Beckerman helped contain Reyna and sharpened his passing as the game wore on. He atoned for a corner conceded by an atrocious pass to no one by setting in motion the U.S. scoring sequence with a ball out wide to Brek Shea.
4 Jose Torres (Pachuca/MEX) 19/0.
Deployed as the playmaker behind two forwards, Torres faltered badly. He was hampered by a sluggish Landon Donovan and sporadic assistance from the flanks, but he also committed several unforced turnovers when a few seconds of possession were needed. His best moment came midway through the first half when he pushed a ball across the goalmouth that neither Gomez nor Williams could touch into the net. He can play at this level but not in this role.
4 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) 144/49.
Seldom ran at the opposition or worked effective combinations with his teammates before being replaced at halftime, reportedly because of a tight hamstring. Gave the ball that Torres slid in front of goal.
5 Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/MEX) 14/4.
Gave a Herculean effort, as usual, and dropped into his own defensive third to contribute a few headed clearances. Passed up a wide-open Terence Boyd when set clear to instead hit a routine shot, and shot right to the keeper with a long-distance free kick.
5 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 97/17.
Came on at halftime to add energy in the attacking third, and played both wings as well as the middle to confuse the opposition.
6 Terence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/AUT) 5/0.
Brought some beef against a rather listless Mexican defense, and held his ground and the ball long enough in a crowd to roll a back-heel that became an historic assist.
6 Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) 3/1.
Clipped a nice free kick just over Boyd's head, and cleared away a free kick that had dropped into a dangerous spot.
7 Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis/MEX) 5/1.
Took over at right back when Johnson switched to the left, and whatever he did defensively was forgotten when he got his foot to Boyd's back heel.
7 Brek Shea (FC Dallas) 13/0.
Let's not too carried away about his 13 minutes of play, but he looked like the Good Shea when he buzzed down the left to set up the goal, and unhinged the Mexican back line again in the final minutes.
NR Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX) 2/0.
He can tell his grandkids he was on the field when the USA won in Azteca.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)