Michael Orozco (red/white jersey) celebrates after scoring the USA's only goal in its first-ever win at Mexico on August 15, 2012, in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
PASADENA, California -- Michael Orozco will eternally be linked to the Mexico-United States football rivalry.
On August 15, 2012, Orozco made history, when he struck for the only goal in a 1-0 win over Mexico at the Estadio Azteca. It was the first time the U.S. defeated Mexico on Mexican soil.
The 29-year-old Club Tijuana defender hopes to play a role in the next chapter of this sporting clash on Saturday night as the North American rivals meet in the CONCACAF Cup at the Rose Bowl. The winner will earn a ticket to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
After playing 18 matches and scoring three goals for the U.S., taking on Mexico has additional meaning to Orozco.
“There are a lot of mixed feelings,” Orozco said. “My parents are born in Mexico. I’m born in the U.S. My heart is obviously divided, but I always have to defend my colors and the jersey that I am wearing to the max. If [Saturday] night, I get to play, I am going to defend the red, white and blue until we get that victory and it’s going to be a fulfilling dream.”
Orozco has been on U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar since the Orange, California-native signed with Xolos prior to the 2015 Liga MX Apertura. The nine-year veteran of Mexican first-division play has put in plenty of work this season, starting all 12 matches for Ruben Romano.
He hopes that resume and his production are sufficiently deep for him to get field time in the first competitive match between the sides in more than two years.
“We put into practice what Jurgen wants us to,” Orozco finished. “We are prepared for the Mexico game. We are going to give it our all. Like I said, playing for your country is always an honor. Playing against Mexico is going to put more value to it.
“There’s no way we are going to lose to them. Everyone is mentally prepared for it. It doesn’t matter what you have done last month or last week. Everything will be defined with what you do in that game against Mexico.”