USA's Azteca hero got his start in Mexico

If Mexican clubs hadn't started providing pro soccer opportunities for Mexican-American talent, the USA's historic win at Azteca Stadium may not have happened.

For one, Michael Orozco Fiscal scored the USA’s winning goal on Wednesday and was one of five Mexican-Americans fielded by Jurgen Klinsmann who got their pro starts in Mexico.

Eight years ago, at age 18, Orozco had finished his youth career with the Irvine Strikers. He had trials with Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy. They may have recognized his talent, but didn’t have in place a development program that would suit a young player not ready for prime time.

Mexican clubs, on the other hand, have long had ambitious youth programs and highly competitive reserve leagues.

Orozco got a trial with Necaxa while the Mexican club was training in Southern California, where Orozco was born and raised by parents who had emigrated from Mexico. Necaxa invited him to move south of the border.

"I got paid about $200 a month," said Orozco, who started out playing on Necaxa’s reserve team in the second division. "They provided housing, at their club house, and food, so it was possible to live on that, but it wasn't easy.

"It was difficult and frustrating. There were several times when I wanted to go home. I spent a lot of time on the phone with my parents. But I kept at it, hoping for a break with the first team."

It never happened with Necaxa, but when Coach Raul Arias left for another First Division club, San Luis, he asked Orozco to follow.

In August 2006, nearly two years after arriving in Mexico, Orozco made his First Division debut, three minutes into which he was red-carded. But six months later, he was back in the first team and after playing 32 First Division games was called up top the USA’s U-23 team for Olympic qualifying.

He helped the USA reach the Beijing Games, where he started all three games. The 2008 Olympics ended badly, though, when he was ejected in the 2-1 loss to Nigeria that eliminated the USA.

He moved back into San Luis’ starting lineup upon his return from the Olympics. In 2010, he spent a season with MLS’s Philadelphia Union -- playing for his former Olympic team coach Peter Nowak -- before returning the San Luis.

Orozco had played one game for the USA’s full national team, under Coach Bob Bradley, in 2008 and returned to the fold when Klinsmann took over in 2011.

Klinsmann started three Mexican-based Mexican-American players on Wednesday – Edgar Castillo, Jose Torres and Herculez Gomez. Joe Corona entered the game on the 89th minute. Orozco entered the game in the 77th minute and scored three minutes later.

The Texan Torres, 24, and New Mexico product Castillo, 25, both moved to Mexico as teens when they saw no opportunities in their homeland. (“Too small” was the reaction both were subjected to by U.S. coaches charged with finding talent.)

Both Torres and Castillo have won titles with Mexican clubs. We’d likely have never heard of either of them -- or Orozco -- had Mexican clubs not provided them a place to develop their talent.

So Mexico has been playing a role in U.S. player development that, on Wednesday, contributed to its first loss to the USA on Mexican soil.

16 comments about "USA's Azteca hero got his start in Mexico".
  1. cisco martinez, August 16, 2012 at 5:25 p.m.

    Its nice to see Mexican-Americans get a shot with the US National Team. Although I have not been impressed with Fiscal, Torres, or Castillo. Gomez and Bocanegra are looking good and hopefully we have some more top talent to come!

  2. David Huff, August 16, 2012 at 5:37 p.m.

    I had always predicted to friends that the day Fortress Azteca was toppled would be because, in part, the prominent use of skilled Mexican-American players in the lineup. That day has now come and I could not be happier or prouder. :)

  3. Robert Lopez, August 16, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.

    I'm so proud to be a Mexican-American and root for team USA now. I can finally relate to the team now. Thank you Klinnsmen for giving these guys a shot.

  4. Allan Lindh, August 16, 2012 at 5:45 p.m.

    But maybe we should point out that the Mexican Women's team has profited greatly from Mexican girls that come to the US to play college soccer, and US born girls of Mexican heritage that play US college ball, and then choose to play for the Mexican national team. This isn't a one-sided relationship. Viva la Title 9.

  5. Fred Lowe, August 16, 2012 at 5:46 p.m.

    I agree and would add that if Klinsmann had not spent years in Southern Calif he would not have looked towards the natural talent in his backyard and in Mexico but would have looked instead towards Europe - one of American soccer's big weaknesses, historically speaking....

    Win or lose going forward it is great to see the strides that are truly being made for U.S. soccer under this great coach...

  6. Andy Maier, August 16, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.

    this article is great - Paul Gardner take note...improve or just stop your dribble.

  7. Andy Maier, August 16, 2012 at 6:14 p.m.

    should add more directly relevant that we shouldn't congratulate ourselves Chicarito, Parella, etc. yes our best players weren't on the pitch either but that's a lot of different dynamics for the games against Mexico next year that actually matter.

  8. Barry Ulrich, August 16, 2012 at 7:58 p.m.

    Why doesn't FIFA crack down on people in the stands who direct laser beams at GKs and throw objects at players? Where was security during the US-Mexico match? What would the Ref had done if Tim Howard had announced he was leaving his hoist ion until something was done about the green laser directed at him?

  9. Alex Zarate, August 16, 2012 at 9:09 p.m.

    I guess Messi would've been given the boot by our "experts in talent" for being "too small".

    BTW in responsed to Andy Maier's comment: Chicharito did play and well, but was kept in checked by Cameron most of the time...and in Soccer International Friendlies matter! For some reason here in the US no one seems to think so but the rest of the world.

  10. Thomas Brannan, August 16, 2012 at 9:43 p.m.

    It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

  11. T. Michael Flinn, August 16, 2012 at 10:39 p.m.

    was Beasley hit on the head by a flying object?

  12. Luis Arreola, August 17, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.

    Great piece Mr. Woitalla. I look forward to reading more from you and will recommend ypure posts to nany people that need to read these pieces. I woner why Ridge and the rest dpnt ever make these observations. He is too busy giving Castillo a low score, I guess. Castillo was not the worst Usa player in this game by a long shot. You cant piss against the wind, my friends.

  13. beautiful game, August 17, 2012 at 10:56 a.m.

    As for Chicarito, he muffed a few goal scoring opportunities after 'beating the defense' which on the night played well at times....yet another example of officianado superlatives given to Orozco Fiscal as a 'hero' when in fact an opportunist is much more appropriate...this elevation to hero, or by MLS commenntators as 'great', "fantastic', etc, is a constant over-qualifying of players who hardly deserve such accolades, and should be reserved for the true-superstars of the game.

  14. Gus Keri, August 17, 2012 at 1:18 p.m.

    What a nonsense! This result was made possible by a stronge defensive showing and if we look at the 7 players at the back (1 goalkeeper, 4 defenders & 2 defensive midfielders) there was only one Mexican American. And if we look at that fortunate goal, 3 of the last 4 players to touch the ball were not Mexican American. It could've been any one in that position to score. (Bornstein's goal agianst Costa Rica any one?) But as usual, we build a mountain out of a fist of sand.

  15. John Hofmann, August 17, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.

    As often happens, the comments appear headed toward in-fighting when in reality different views all have merit. My initial reaction to this article was exactly Mr. Nowozeniuk's - we end up with the endless hyberbole and media hype because that's what we live on 24 hours a day in this country, when the actual goal wa not of particular merit or skill, but huge historically. On the other hand, the Hispanic commentors all reflect a wider frustrations, built up over many years, because the U.S. has dragged its soccer feet not only w/ regards to its slowness in utilizing Hispanic talent but also with its obsession to size.

  16. beautiful game, August 17, 2012 at 5:07 p.m.

    J.H., a laconic contribution to this discussion.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications