Just an exhibition, but win over Mexico means a lot to the USA

A win in Azteca is historic for the United States, no matter the slackened importance of the exhibition.
On Wednesday night the United States won an ill-timed August exhibition by a narrow 1-0 scoreline and not too much pizzazz. Crucial first team players from both sides missed out, with the European seasons opening shortly.

"At the end of the day we don't win any trophies for winning tonight," Landon Donovan said. "We don't get any points for it."

Except this so-called friendly was the first time the Americans had ever won on Mexican soil, with the venue the historic Azteca Stadium. In 24 previous attempts, the United States had collected one measly draw and 23 losses.

"Does it mean a lot to us, winning in Azteca Stadium, even with some luck, with a Tim Howard in goal?" Jurgen Klinsmann asked. "Yeah, it does."

At the final whistle, DaMarcus Beasley collapsed to the Azteca turf, overwhelmed by emotion. He probably didn't think he'd ever win in Mexico, not even if he earned another 97 caps.

Klinsmann compared the win to a 1-0 result the U.S. earned in Genoa last year against an Italy team that made it to the final of Euro 2012 months later.

"Having success in friendly games helps you," the German coach said. "Because it helps you from a team side, player side that they kind of believe more in what we're doing."

Klinsmann pointed out that the win fits into the U.S. schedule as preparation for World Cup qualifiers, which resume in September.

"This is just a period of work that we're in the middle of," Klinsmann said. "Mexico's focus is the World Cup qualifiers. Our focus is in three weeks going to Jamaica. But a result like that tonight just helps all the work you're putting in and it helps the players to buy in."

The players bought in enough to reverse 75 years of history. But Wednesday's exhibition wasn't the final goal.

"We want to keep it all in perspective," Donovan said. "We didn't play in a World Cup final tonight. But I think we're excited about the prospect of what we did."

During the Hexagonal, the United States will likely return to Azteca. When it does, the jinx will have been broken, the streak snapped.

"It will still be difficult," Tim Howard said. "We'll still have to walk down that tunnel again and there'll be a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety. But we'll step out there and feel like we know how to win now."

That's for the Hexagonal. For now, the U.S. is savoring a historic win.

"As you can imagine, the players are enjoying it right now in the locker room," Klinsmann said. "I'm certainly going to soak it in," Donovan added.

Brent Latham contribued reporting from Mexico City

Follow ZAC LEE RIGG on or shoot him an email