Reviled in Mexico for scoring his first-ever goal for the United States in Estadio Azteca in a 2012 friendly, Puebla and U.S. national team defender Michael Orozco said he thinks he's redeemed himself after netting the tying goal for the United States vs. Panama on Tuesday, a goal that ultimately kept Mexico's World Cup hopes alive, according to a report.
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"Not even a year ago I was one of the most hated players because of the 'Aztecazo' but I think the tides have turned and now I am one of the most loved for the goal for the tie," Orozco told Univision. "It is close to my heart because Mexico has to get to the World Cup. They have made it to the playoff and now I wish them luck and will continue to support them."
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Mexico gets another shot at Brazil on Nov. 13 and 19 in an international playoff vs. New Zealand, the first leg of which will be played at Estadio Azteca. The Mexicans got the fourth and final CONCACAF qualifying spot -- and the rights to the playoff berth -- after the with two late goals to beat Panama 3-2, thus bumping Panama from that fourth spot. Minutes before, Mexico had lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Costa Rica.
The U.S., which clinched a World Cup berth last month, didn't use most of its starters, and Gabriel Torres put Panama ahead in the 18th minute. Orozco tied it the 64th minute, just as Costa Rica took the 2-1 lead at home against Mexico.
"After I scored the tying goal everyone in the stadium was screaming. (Panama and FC Dallas standout) Blas (Perez) told me, 'Don’t think about taking it back. The team that wins wins and nobody can think about it like you were helping Mexico.' This is soccer. We had to play our game and that’s what we were trying to do," Orozco, 27, said in the interview.
"Klinsmann told us this game was ours to win. It was in our hands and we couldn’t drop our guard we had to win. What we did was advantageous to us."
Orozco said he will always identify with Mexico even though he plays for the U.S. team.
"Here (Mexico) the doors were opened for me to start my career and I enjoyed it very much. My parents are Mexican, I am Mexican," he told Univision. "I ended up defending another jersey but I continue to be Mexican."
El Tri has qualified for five straight World Cups, last missing out in 1990, when the team was banned from qualifying for using ineligible players in a junior tournament. The last time Mexico participated in qualifying and did not reach the World Cup was 1982.