Monday, June 25, 2007


Pretty amazing stuff at Soldier Field (aka Azteca Norte) yesterday. After initially toying with Mexico, Benny Feilhaber's blaster of a volley solidified the US's position as the kings of Concacaf. Our crew consisted of Myself, Brian, Mick, Hans and several of Hans' buddies. We tailgated in the parking lot before the game and realized that the Mexicans outnumbered us by a ratio of at least 10 to 1. The Mexicans were very hopeful before the game and were generally very gracious opponents, even sharing their delicious tailgate tacos with us. Inside the stadium it was business as usual. If you watched on TV, you may have seen us unfurl the flag after each of our goals. We did that part in celebration and part for protection. Mexican fans in the sections above us hurled beer, soda and smoke bombs onto us. Never thought we would be capable of coming from behind, but the bhoys showed true heart and never stopped fighting. Not sure how Landon Donovan did not get names to the tournament's Best XI. He was the best player in the tournament for me.

After the game, we continued the tailgate for several hours. Some Mexican fans across from our parking spot had some jalapeno peppers they were grilling. Instead of a hot dog or a sausage, they would put a grilled pepper in a bun and eat it. One of the guys offered to funnel a beer if I ate a pepper. Being a good sport, I obliged. Rule Number 1 when handling jalapeno peppers: wash your hands before you touch your, er, sensitive parts. I vomited immediately after ingesting the pepper, much to the delight of the Mexicans. After I violated Rule Number 1, I basically had to relieve the burning by washing with beer. Not sweet.

Anyway, after the game, I'd say 80% of the Mexican fans took the loss in stride and acknowledge that the US is the true leader of CONCACAF. Still, some were pretty bitter and I definitely was spit upon by a few people. Good thing I got the Hepatitis B vaccine! For many Mexicans, and other immigrants, cheering for their country of origin is one of their ways of remaining connected to their past. That desire stirs up some pretty intense emotions because it is forced to compete with their want to connect to their new homes and the future. It is always heartwarming to see a Mexican family completely kitted out in El Tri's colors, and then to see the children openly rooting for the USA.

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