Friday, August 14, 2009

United States Men's National Team vs. Mexico

If images are not viewable click HERE.





Once again I was able to combine my two loves and travel to Mexico City to view the biggest and most important World Cup Qualifier for the USA this cycle. The match in Mexico City!!

For a USA fan, making a trip to arch-rival Mexico's Azteca stadium is something you just have to do and experience.

I received my media credentials and as my focus always is covering the United States National Team's games, I was photographing the USA fans who had made the trip for the game.

I hung out with a group of the supporters who decided to gather at their hotel in the Zona Rosa section of Mexico City and take the subway to the stadium. A lot of people thought it was a crazy idea to take the train to the game, but it was brilliant.



When the fans arrived at the stadium there was some good natured exchanges back in forth between the USA fans and the Mexican fans. Needless to say that was not going to be the case for the whole match.


Once the gates were opened up the Mexican police escorted the fans to a section set up with a police cordon all around it to "protect" the USA fans. There were several jeers and middle fingers given but it was still 2 hours before the game and plenty of time for the stadium to fill up.



Azteca inside is impressive and massive. The stadium seats 110,000 people and as the game time came the atmosphere was intense, and the fans for both sides chanting and cheering.




About 500 or 600 United States Soccer fans made the trip and it was a loud group. Every time they started a cheer the nearby Mexican fans were quick to drown the sounds out.





Everything changed when the USA scored a quick goal on a counterattack. The American fans exploded in ecstasy.





The USA has never won a game in Mexico City. And now it appeared that for the first time it could possibly happen.


The Mexican fans at that point began throwing items at the American fans. For the most part it was beer in cups that was hurled over. But different items also made their way into the section.







They included water bottles, batteries, pieces of rock and anything that a Mexican fan could possibly throw.




The police did nothing to stop the items being thrown and it continued for the most part till the end of the game.

When Mexico scored their first goal the onslaught continued. The atmosphere between the fans grew increasingly testy the whole match.



After Mexico scored their second goal with several minutes left in the match, the thrown items actually increased. Right when the game ended the Mexican police asked for the USA fans to exit the stadium right away.



The escort continued down the ramps of the stadium with more heckling from the Mexican fans and items being thrown from above.








The police cordoned off a section and led the USA Fans to some buses that some of the fans had taken to the game. However for the rest of the fans who had come by public transport the police decided it was too dangerous to have us go to the metro station.



So instead they loaded up the United States fans into a police paddy wagon and drove everyone to a metro station several miles away where it was possible to grab a train to head back into the city.




The ride was hilarious. It was fun to be in a police vehicle and all along the route Mexican fans were giving a "salute" to the USA fans, thanking them for making the trip but wishing them a quick and speedy trip back north of the border.




All in all it was an amazing experience. As a photographer it was an exhilarating atmosphere and great to photograph. But as a fan it was fun traveling with the USA Fans but a better result would have made it a trip to remember.


I do know this: every 4 years, whenever the USA plays Mexico I will be right back at Azteca to experience the atmosphere, and to be there the day that they finally do beat Mexico on their own turf.


More images from the USA v. Mexico game are viewable HERE.

43 comments:

  1. HAHA! These are awesome, Doug!! I love the rain of hellfire and pepsi paper cups one.. :D

    -missyb

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  2. Great pics and story! That looks like a fairly dangerous environment. Did anyone get hit with anything?

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  3. Good write up of a sad story. This was most unsportmanlike conduct on the part of the home team, and there was no excuse for it.

    I hope, were roles and locations reversed, that we would not treat our visitors so shabbily.

    (I've been to DF three times and have been treated very nicely. Surely this is macho soccer related, just as happens in Europe.)

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  4. it´s just for a game (not comprensible), try to be not angry

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  5. Thanks for sharing the experience with those of us who couldn't make the trip. Would love to be there next go around.

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  6. In your dreams! But do come.
    Great chronicle, enjoyed it, thanks.
    Good sport,
    --e

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  7. That's me getting loaded into the paddy wagon. Awesome pic. Thanks much.

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  8. that settles it! Now I know what to do with that box full of dead batteries......i'm going to use them at the drive through fast food windows....can't miss at point blank!

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  9. Great pictures and comments. I was sent this link by one of the US fans would made the trip down. Hopefully I can make the trip in 4 years.

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  10. Your photos aren't loading right now...

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  11. The photos should be back up. Any problems email me at doug@zimpix.com Thanks for the feedback!

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  12. Awesome pics and story! I'll be there in four years too. :)

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  13. As an American made with Mexican Parts, I'd love to be there to root for the U.S. (That's my team). The game was awesome, too bad we lost. I'm positive our day will come at "El Azteca!... soon!"

    I do root for both teams though, but U.S. comes first.

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  14. Great pictures, Doug--even the pictures that have me in them. :)

    That was an experience like none other.

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  15. Hardcore US Fan...who understands it allAugust 17, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    all these people that say it's "bad sportsmanship by the home team" etc etc need to understand what they're talking about. chances are these are the people that don't know how big soccer is to every country (except US..which i'm pissed about mind you). Soccer is not "just a sport" to them, from the time they're born, until the time they die...they eat, breathe and live soccer. This is they're way of life. They treat their soccer team/players/games like it's a battle for their country. When's the last time, in the US, you've seen a stadium pack 110,000 people and for 90 straight minutes EVERYONE is chanting the same song, and banging on drums to show their support for 11 players? Never. This isn't a game, it's a lifestyle. People here in the US don't understand it's beauty. Unfortunately i couldn't make it down to Azteca for the game, but you better believe i'll be there next game. And when the Mexico fans yell obscenities/throw beer and urine and rocks at me...you better believe i'll enjoy every second of it..knowing our boys (the us team for you non-soccer fans) are doing their jobs. "Dont Tread on Me" -US Soccer

    South Africa here we come...

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  16. Their soccer team is so good, I think I want to sneak over the Mexican border and let them educate my children, provide me free health care, and constantly complain to their government that I'm not treated as an equal JUST BECAUSE I snuck in illegally.

    Wait...

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  17. what a pheonomenal blog! thanks for sharing your experiences-and these amazing photographs...

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  18. Dude those pics are awesome great job. Thanks for being such a good sport about this, not all mexicans are this crazy.

    do you have any pics of the things they were throwing at you (batteries, bags with questionable liquids etc...)?

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  19. "I hope, were roles and locations reversed, that we would not treat our visitors so shabbily."

    @ ridgeley

    They have been reversed, and I can say from personal experience we have not.

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  20. Great Pics! Great stories! Good job man....but I dont think the day will come when you will get to see te US win, but still, keep coming amigo!

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  21. Very nice link from Bill Simmons. Congrats on the pics from the front lines...and surviving to shoot another day.

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  22. The lack of sportsmanship shown by the home fans is deplorable. "Hardcore US Fan" is wrong - it is just a game.

    Some good-natured heckling is one thing, but rock-throwing, dumping urine on fans, police escorts? That's way over the line.

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  23. Imagine the international condemnation if this behaviour had appeared in DC NY or SF?

    Big bad neighbor: in Futbol baby, we are still 2nd World.

    Though with the passage of NAFTA and our joining the WTO, in a few more years we will be following our Mexican neighbors into economic suicide.

    But do not worry, we can still have our national pride restored every 4 years by pissing and assaulting the small gang of "Mexican" fans as they drive home, exiting from the many stops along the Jersey turnpike...

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  24. Man, you are brave. I´m mexican and yes, I love the rivalry between Mexico and the US, but I feel sorry for the lack of education we showed when your anthem was being played. A lot of you who write here have visited Mexico, and you know we don´t hate the US, its just that football is a big deal here, and you are our direct enemy as we are yours. Here we call ourselves the giant of Concacaf, and we call you The monster of Concacaf because of how you have evolved and manage to give us some unpleasant surprises in some games. Love the rivalry, you took us to the snow, we took you to the pollution. Greetings from DF

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  25. This is just football, fútbol or soccer, it's a game and whoever gets to be in a match like that has to be aware of the "funcky business" they are getting involved. Sometimes you(r team) win(s) and you proudly rise your hands, sometimes not and it is still kind of enjoyable. Do not take this personal, it's not a war of two nations as some media try to sell this kind of games, it's just football, soccer, fútbol, it's just fun.

    Great photos and all my respect for the Americans who made the trip to Mexico City. I've seen this sport evolving in this country and I am sure it will be as good as in Europe one day.

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  26. Great pictures. Those people are complete idiots though. Weeee, flip off the country that you all can't wait to come to work in. F them.

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  27. My boyfriend & I missed the US escort in and had to face the crowd. Had to stand up or squat down, no prob. Got a full beverage to the side of the head when we scored. We also took the metro back to our hotel. Very scary! Was a good game.

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  28. Great pictures, looked like a good time. Too bad about the unlucky break at the end.

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  29. I love some of the comments by some of my fellow americans. Maybe you should get a tissue and quit your pathetic whining.

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  30. All the poor sportsmanship shown in these pictures - that's one reason soccer isn't my favorite sport. Well at least no one was killed (seriously)! And yes, I know that this isn't typical behavior of the Mexican people in general but still, batteries, bags of urine, rocks and other dangerous things thrown at people would get you a visit in jail if it was done here in the USA. There would be an international outcry if that crap was done in the USA toward foreign fans. Yeah, I know soccer is a big deal in the culture of Mexico but that shouldn't mean it's OK to commit physical assault.

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  31. awesome set of pictures... mebbe in 2013 i can make it down there to experience it...

    the one w/ all the drinks in the air is great...

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  32. This is a bit late but an interesting thing happened on the way out of the stadium. After being escourted out of the stadium by the "why are they even there" poice, and being paraded through the parking lots like the some defeated tribe from Gaul going through the streets of Rome, the police suddenly vanished.

    So, the USA fans broke into small groups and made our way out. At that point the whole scene changed 100%. We were now individuals and not the USA Supporters Group. Everyone was very friendly and many, many pictures were taken with a USA and Mexican fan, even me.

    Then the police showed up again and we once more became bad guys.

    So, yes, I did get 6-8 beers/cokes thrown on me and did pick up a double AA battery that landed nearby. But, all in all, at the stadium the Mexican fans were very friendly except when we were in the USA group.

    Donovan

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  33. I love the pictures. The passion of football is truly amazing. I hope to soon travel abroad and follow the US in their journey of conquering the world of football.

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  39. I ran across your wonderful account of the Azteca Experience while doing research for a possible trip to the big USA-Mexico match at Azteca sometime in 2013. I write for Soccermogul and am considering making the journey. Looks like it would be quite the adventure for sure. Is there not a pressbox for media or would we be lumped into the USA section with credentials through US Soccer?

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