This will be a different type of post that I normally get to write here, but thought I'd take the opportunity to share my experience in the Alamodome. This was actually my second United States-Mexico game, although my previous one was 12 years ago in the Cotton Bowl, where the USMNT picked up a 1-0 win courtesy of an Eddie Pope goal in 93rd minute. That was probably the most intimidating soccer experience I've ever been to with the crowd 99% pro Mexico and there were just a sprinkling of USA fans in our section and maybe a couple hundred of Sam's Army on the other side of the stadium. Thankfully this was a more balanced experience (although it was probably 75-25 pro Mexico) and one that I got to share with my wife as well.
March to the Stadium
As we walked up to the stadium, 90 minute before kick off, we could both already tell that this was going to be something special. There was a large stream of Mexico supporters surrounding us in full voice and were very vocal and clear about where their loyalties lied. It wasn't hostile, but any chants of U-S-A were quickly drowned out by their jeers and chants of México. I was starting to get worried that despite USA's efforts to draw more pro USA fans into this one that we would be severely outnumbered again.
Once we got past security, the intensity doubled as chants for México grew louder and louder and it become pretty evident that we were the minority. The few sprinkling of USA fans found solitude with one another, giving the knowing nod of approval, that we respected one another for braving this trip into a potentially hostile territory to support our team. The opposition founds were loud, they were excited, they were unified, they were confident. It was going to be a very fun evening.
One thing my wife pointed out was the number of families she saw seated near us that had family members of split loyalties and how "American" that was and a great symbolization of how his nation has changed. You would see the father sporting a Mexico jersey, the mother in USA, the oldest daughter in red, white and blue, the youngest daughter in Mexico green and the son in his Bomb Pop kit. It was quite beautiful to behold actually that a family could produce members of such diverse loyalties. We loved it.
I was so distracted by the game not starting on time and soaking in the volume of the game that I didn't even bother to look at the field condition until my wife pointed out that where we play our weekend rec soccer fields looked better than what was out there. I think it actually looked worse on TV than it did in person, but yes, it was not a pretty sight and the flow of the game was definitely altered by it. It was a little weird then, giving those ridiculous conditions, to hear fans from both sides yell at their players to "tie their f****** shoelaces" and stop slipping and sliding all over the place.
I know this is what most of you are wondering, and the answer is yes, someone did throw something at us. It hit me in the back of the head - coward! - but I couldn't really make it out what it was. I think it was a rolled up napkin with ice in it but given that it wasn't what it could have been, I was relieved.
We were seated in a pretty split section between USA and Mexico fans with Mexico fans seated next to us. Things started out pretty cordially with all of us cheering as loudly and proudly as we could for our respective nations, but as with most of these events go, as the game wore on and the more beer was downed, things got a little out of hand. I'll just leave it that one guy had drank three beers in the 30 minutes before kick off. That's just what I saw and God knows how much he consumed before then. The excessive use of vulgar language and general safety of the fans definitely made me rethink capping the amount of alcohol served at these things. But that's for another time.
I'm not if I've ever been in a stadium where there were eruptions of jubilation and cursing simultaneously over a goal being scored. Almost immediately with the USA fans rejoicing over that Jordan Morris strike came the jeers, the cursing and the whistles. And of course, immediately after that goal a Mexico fan turned to me and asked how we scored because she missed it and before I could answer, went on to say, "Was it a header? Because you know, you guys can't play soccer. You guys just hit the ball with any purpose and it just goes in." Right. I think we need some coffee here in row 22.
Then that magical moment from Juan Agudelo. I think I was the only one in my section to fanboy it when Agudelo brought that Bradley pass down with that first touch. But then to see him turn and to see the space open up and to notice that his head was down, you knew that he was lining up for a shot and to wrap himself in USA-MEX soccer glory and wrap himself he did. This time though, there were no jeers, no whistles... just deflation. It happened again! Dos a Cero. Again.
I won't lie, I began to sweat and get real nervous when the chants of "Dos a Cero!" were belted out in our section. We joined in but respectfully directed our chanting towards the field at not at anyone next to us in particular.
That Awkward Moment
Probably the unintentional favorite moment of the match came at the expense of a couple next to us. He was in a Clint Dempsey shirt, she was in a Giovani dos Santos shirt. I think they thought their relationship could handle it better, but the backhanded, passive aggressive comments that came flying out of their mouths and then the ultimate silent treatment from both of them kind of capped off the evening brilliantly.
In the end, if you can swing it, you gotta make it to one of these USA-MEX matches, especially with a more pro Mexico crowd. It's like the Red River Rivalry game between Texas and OU, except a lot less white and a more Spanish expletives. It's just fun to have someone curse at you in a different language.