U.S. Men's Soccer Team Ties With Mexico
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
During the last World Cup in 2010, the New York Post ran a headline that read: "U.S. Wins 1-1." The Americans tied England in the opener, but it felt as glorious as a victory for the U.S. side. And last night, the U.S. men's soccer team may have done it again. They are a step closer to securing a spot in the 2014 World Cup after tying archrival Mexico. The score: 0-0. It was a raucous night in Mexico City with more than 100,000 fans going crazy. NPR's Carrie Kahn was there.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The immense Azteca Stadium, filled to the brim, is loud and intimidating.
UNIDENTIFIED FANS #1: (Chanting) Mexico, Mexico, Mexico, Mexico.
KAHN: The crowd screams Mexico, Mexico. A small section in the far upper-reaches of the stadium tried to keep up.
UNIDENTIFIED FANS #2: (Chanting) USA, USA, USA.
KAHN: About 500 Americans - many wearing bright-blue velvet sombreros, red, white and blue surfer shorts and white T-shirts screamed at the top of their lungs for 90 minutes. Eric Asturias from Phoenix, Arizona says coming here to see the game is a thrill of a lifetime, even if you have to do it behind a police line.
OK. There's about 100 police surrounding you, with full riot gear.
ERIC ASTURIAS: Exactly. And, you know, it's alarming, but we're all out here to have a good time.
KAHN: Asturias and his friend Austin Metheny said they could have waited a few more months to watch the U.S. team to play Mexico at home in Ohio, but it just wouldn't be the same.
AUSTIN METHENY: No, definitely not as exciting as down here. Look at all the security around us, all the Mexicans who hate us. This is where you want to be. This is where a soccer comes to live.
KAHN: Despite days of hype and the possibility of a first-ever official U.S. victory at the storied stadium, the game fell very short of expectations.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
KAHN: Even though Mexico dominated, keeping the U.S. on the defensive, they couldn't score. Even their star striker, Javier Chicharito Hernandez, couldn't connect. In 17 shots and 15 corner kicks, not one goal was to be had. Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated says the U.S. may not have won, but they have a lot to brag about.
GRANT WAHL: This place has been a house of horrors for the U.S. over the years. And to get this result here and quiet 110,000 Mexican fans is a huge moment for U.S. soccer.
KAHN: The Mexican fans didn't go too quietly. After the final whistle, a rain of beer cups and soda cans came crashing down on the U.S. fan section, as well as on many in the press box. Uriel Valverde says the rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico is a long and bitter one.
URIEL VALVERDE: (Spanish spoken)
KAHN: We are neighbors, uncomfortable neighbors - he says, laughing - and that makes for a great rivalry and a great game. Last night's draw put the U.S. in third place in its quest to qualify for the World Cup. Mexico dropped to fifth. The two rivals meet up again in September, but this time in the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FANS #2: (Singing) 'Cause we support the U.S., the U.S...
KAHN: Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.