Six Red Cards! Five Goals! Massive Upset! Wait, Who's Playing?
An incredible game took place in Los Angeles last night, and it had nothing to do with the Staples Center, USC, or Kobe Bryant. In fact, the two teams facing off had nothing to do with LA or even the United States, really. The Coliseum played host to the national soccer teams of bordering nations Mexico and Guatemala, and true to past instances when Central American squads play in the States, heads rolled in every sense of the phrase.
Supporters of El Tri, as the Mexican squad is dubbed, were licking their chops to catch their first glance at Mexico’s new crop of players predicted to become genuine contenders for the 2010 World Cup. La Generacion de Oro (Golden Generation), under the tutelage of national hero Hugo Sanchez, trotted onto the field in front of over 42,000 rapturous fans as big favorites. Mexican prodigy Giovani dos Santos, who plays with the likes of Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry at FC Barcelona, flew into town to jump into the starting XI.
I always find the term “international friendly” a gross misnomer, and this match is a fine example of why. Guatemala took only six minutes to stun the favorites with a goal, quieting the place down considerably. Mexico settled the game down and began to dominate possession of the ball, and it became clear it would only be a matter of time before they equalized. Mexico smashed one into the back of the next just after the 30-minute mark, and before the fans could settle down enough to pay attention to the game, they charged down the field and scored another. Remember how the fans reacted after the Dodgers hit four dingers in a row in a clutch game against the Padres last season? Capture that energy, add some smoke bombs and toilet paper rolls in the air, and you have the atmosphere that filled through the stands that moment.