Friday, November 11, 2016

EXTRA: Mexico – 2; U.S.A. – 1

I confess to watching the U.S./Mexico soccer matchup Friday as much to see if there would be any xenophobic outbursts as to see the quality of the national teams as they both try to qualify for the World Cup tourney to be held in 2018 in Russia.
The hero, or villain, of Friday's match

The presidential election that gave us Donald Trump, who centered much of his campaign rhetoric on bashing Mexico and Mexican-Americans gave this game (just three days following Election Day) a potentially nasty undertone.

YET PEOPLE SEEMED to behave, which was a plus.

Except for some outbursts of a “U.S.A., U.S.A.” chant that cropped up just after the U.S. team began the second half with a game-tying goal, there seemed to be a mellow mood from the fans who gathered in Columbus, Ohio, for the match – a site usually chosen because officials can count on a pro-U.S crowd to predominate. A match played in a place like Soldier Field could easily provide a capacity crowd rooting as vociferously for El Tri as a crowd at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca.

In fact, the American Outlaws group that models itself after soccer hooligans but actually consists of too many mellow suburbanite types to be dangerous actually made its own effort to urge its members to tone down any anti-Mexico chants.

They even made a point of leading a group singing of “This Land Is Your Land” – a song that the “God Bless America”-type crowd likes to think is borderline subversive. Even though I suspect Woody Guthrie was more of a “real American” than many of the people who go about using that label to describe themselves.

THIS MATCH’S RESULT was particularly unique because the U.S. team actually had a streak of victories against Mexico when playing Mexico, one that dates back a few years.
Woody would have approved

The score of 2-0 has become so common that U.S. soccer interests have started to view it as a predictable outcome. Which I’m sure makes Mexican-Americans across the nation fidgety.

And made the 2-1 victory, with Rafael Marquez Alvarez scoring the winning goal just a couple of minutes before match’s end, all the more enjoyable.

But for those rooting for the United States, keep in mind there are still more qualifying matches to occur – and it is very likely that both the United States AND Mexico will wind up earning a trip to Russia for a chance at a World Cup championship.


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