So I got the chance to cover the US-Mexico Soccer game Saturday September 3, 2005 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
This was a big deal, with a win for the US earning them an automatic berth in the World Cup. They did end up winning, 2-0, and will be making the trip to Germany, but I thought I would post some photos from the trip that weren't action from the game. So here goes.
This guy was something. I like to call him Monteczuma because of the headdress, but I don't know his real name. He was just one of several thousand Mexican fans at the game. He was waiting outside the stadium wearing this getup with Peacock feathers in the headpiece.
He looked like he was ready for some football! And you notice, his little one is just as passionate about his national team as dad is. Actually I think he probably just wants to spend time with dad; he looks too young to be embarrassed about the getup.
There were a lot of Mexican fans at this game. One reason the US team chose Columbus is because it was such a long trip for the Mexican fans to make.
If the game were played in Los Angeles or somewhere like Dallas or even Salt Lake City, there was a possibility the crowd would be to pro-Mexico.
So they put the game in Columbus to try to get more American support. It worked, but there were several thousand Mexican fans who made the trip.
Of Course there were plenty of US Soccer crazies there too. The guys in what's known as Sam's Army, for Uncle Sam, were there in force. They came by my seat one time pounding a drum and chanting "Estados Unidos" just in case any of the Mexican fans were curious that the red, white, and blue banners and flags the Sammers were carrying were for Puerto Rico.
One of the really cool things that happened was that they had a parachutist literally fly in the American flag before the start of the game. It was a perfect night for a game, with clear skies and the temperature around 68 degrees.
And this guy floated down out of a crystal blue sky with a massive American flag attached to his ankle. He landed right at midfield and the crowd went nuts. It was something to see and part of the whole spectacle of the game.
In the end the US won, thanks to Steve Ralston's header and DeMarcus Beasley's goal. And now they will go to Germany next summer to represent us at the World Cup.
The stadium was jammed with 24,365 people, the largest crowd ever to watch a US qualifier at Columbus Crew Stadium. And the crowd was pretty self controlled, no fights or foolishness like that. There seemed to be two things that unified the crowd -- their enthusiasm for the game, and the lines at the porto-johns. US, Mexico, it didn't matter. Everyone had to line up.
I am not a real fan of the game, which is probably a good thing. But I noticed that people usually either don't care or are extremely passionate about soccer. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.
On the flight back to DC, I was sitting next to a guy in a Mexico shirt who was flying all the way back to Mexico City that night because he had been at the soccer game. I can't imagine traveling that far to watch any sporting event -- at least not without getting paid to be there. But this guy obviously had the love. When I was driving home from the airport, he was facing another six hours or more before he would be home. More power to ya if you love it that much.