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Wave your flag right, cabron!

Everyone knows flags are part and parcel of soccer games. They’re right up there with jerseys, face paint and the wave (… unless you’re English …).

But god only knows how many freaking Mexicans keep waving the flag backwards??! Too damn many to count. That’s how many. Every TRI game I’ve been to or seen on TV has some idiot jumping up and down shaking/waving the flag the wrong way.

For fracks sake, the team is called el TRI, tricolor. Everyone knows the three colors are green, white and red. NOT red, white and green!

Please, mis mexicanos, quit embarrassing me and your mamas at home. When you spot the cameraman, make sure you’re holding the GREEN WITH RIGHT HAND.

Like so …

photo (1)

Not, like so …

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PHOTOS: From Thursday’s Gold Cup game between Mexico and Canada. Marco Fabian (10) and fans are celebrating a successful penalty shot.

What?! You think this is a game?!!

maza_bird

Yep. That’s kinda how we all feel, Maza.

Yesterday, during the hexagonal kickoff match against Jamaica in Estadio Azteca, Mexico put on such a lackluster show and failed to capitalize on its home-field advantage. You’re playing in the clouds practically (7,900-foot elevation)!! MAKE THEM RUN.

It got so bad that fans started booing our own team and cheering every time Jamaica had the ball. I’m sure the captain didn’t appreciate any of that.

We scraped by with 1 point, by the grace of God. Read:  By the blessings of Jesus.

Jose de Jesus Corona was the one person responsible for keeping Mexico, the regional leader, from falling oh-so-hard from grace. Aside from that spectacular diving save, Chuy had a few more moments where he punched out incoming shots and smothered balls during one-on-one breakaways.

Good stats, of course, for any goalie. But not when that goalie represents a team that has been on the rise. Get your shit together, guerreros. This isn’t a game anymore. It’s a fight to the World Cup.

PHOTO: Mexico captain Francisco ‘MAZA’ Rodriguez flipped off camera while Corona gives interview. Irony, here, is that Corona is the loose cannon you should watch out for off-field antics.

Greece’s tramp-stamp of approval

Just last week, I was railing against the FIFA man (as I’m prone to do) for its dilapidated, anachronistic way of ranking national teams. As a person of Mexican descent, I’m fiercely proud and possessive of the soccer team.

Look. No puedo tapar el sol con un dedo. Let’s put the cards on the table. It’s a terrible economy. Poverty and corruption have run amok. Drug lords rule with intimidation and grisly violence. And, the cherry on top, un BEEP HIJO DE LA BEEP BEEEEEEP is going to lead the country for the next six years. So yeah, I take out all my frustrations on FIFA for not recognizing one of Mexico’s current bright, shiny spots.

But I was too harsh…

Part of my rant included laying out the English and Greeks. I won’t apologize for the English, but the Greeks certainly didn’t deserve it. And, more so, now that I’ve learned of the clever revenue sources for their soccer teams—Prostitutes!

They’re plucky! And, they’re in dire straits. Worse even than Mexico right now. Who am I to disparage their one bright, shiny spot? A Top 10 ranking on the national stage is like the sun on a cloudy day.

I take it back, Greece. Meant no offense. I tip my pimp hat to you and your lady-of-the-night uniform tramp stamps. ¡OPA!

PHOTOS: Just can’t blot out the sun. And the “Villa Erotica” tramp-stamp of approval on a Greek soccer jersey.

Chicharito transfer rumors: Good for me


By now the whole world knows that Chicharito is the odd man out in Manchester United. That team is stacked with talent and striking power and Chicharito hasn’t seen as many minutes (translate: scored as much) as he has in the past. Now with the acquisition of Golanda’s Robin van Persie, the transfer rumors heat up all over again.

It’s hard to hear transfer rumors circling one your favorites, especially after being with the club for so few years. I feel unappreciated. I feel overlooked. I feel like I’m wasting my best years keeping the bench seats warm. That’s how I feel. Who knows how Chicharito feels? Apparently, when he’s hanging with his Mexican friends, he could care less about Manchester United. Good for you, Javi!

It’s particularly painful for me because of how Hollywood-perfect his story of ascension was. Many years ago, pre South Africa, scouts had seen Chicharito play for the Chivas of Guadalajara. He impressed them much. Obvio. But they wanted to wait to make a move on him because he was still chavito. And then the epiphany landed. Dude, what if this guy goes to the World Cup and has a break-out performance? (He did.) The deal was so secretive and so fast that no one really knew what had happened until Chicharito was filling out work waiver forms. He became the first Mexican at ManU and scored 20 goals that first year.

As much as I feel that Fergie is ungrateful. I actually welcome these rumors… anything that’ll put Chicharito on Real Madrid. It’ll make my life easier tracking him if he’s playing on my beloved team. It gets difficult keeping tabs on all your players, especially when they play in different leagues, different countries, different continents. To me, Chicharito and La Liga makes perfect sense. (Just not at Camp Nou!)

He can continue to impress the European clubs tonight as Mexico closes out its first stage of WCQ2014 with a game against El Salvador tonight, 6 p.m. PST

el grito de Wembley

¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron oro! ¡Viva Peralta! ¡Viva Dos Santos! ¡Viva Corona! ¡Viva Fabián! ¡Vivan Chatón y Herrera! ¡Viva el orgullo nacional! ¡Viva el campeón olímpico! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

If it’s not perfectly obvious yet, Mexico won Olympic gold — hell, an Olympic medal — for the first time. Congratulations to the team, staff and fans who never stopped believing. This is my version of El Grito de Dolores, our independence proclamation.

 

On the edge of glory

Did anyone else catch the song playing in the stadium after Olympic soccer semi? What I heard from my web stream was Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.”

A tense final minutes, followed by an intense few seconds. Goosebumps. Jumping. Yelling. Watery eyes.

Heart rate settles back down and I hear Gaga. Whoa! Who knew that a song about getting a guy would be the PERFECT thing for this Olympic occasion?

I don’t know who was considered the favorite coming in to today’s game. What was known was that Japan had not conceded a single goal in the competition. Those odds were definitely not in Mexico’s favor when it found itself on the wrong side of a 1-0 score in the early minutes of the game.

Those plucky Mexicans came back to tie. To lead. And to extend it in additional time.

Now, they’ll face Brazil, a team who is on its own windmill-chasing quest. Brazil hasn’t won a medal since 1988. They’ve never won gold. Everyone says it’s their time. They’ve put in the effort and they’ve waited through the years.

I say, Screw that! Mexico hasn’t won a medal, period. We need this more than Brazil. They’re already established in the upper-echelons of football. Mexico is one of those good-but-not-great teams that’s easily dismissed by Europe and South America.

¡No más!

Don’t push us cuz we’re close to the edge… of glory!

PHOTOS: Oribe Peralta (9) falls to his knees at the end of the match that will send Mexico to finals; Other teammates celebrate.

No que no!!! Mexico goes for gold

I told you so!

The worn-out refrain of any Mexico fan is that we are going to win — the match, the tournament, the gold medal. People will always support their teams, but Mexico fans are blindingly optimistic that borders on naïve. We are fanatics. The country can be going to shit but if El TRI performs well (even the u-17), all’s well in the world.

The flipside of that coin is the contingent of naysayers who always think Mexico will lose. The people who think we have a bunch of talent but no idea how to convert it to goals and wins. The low-expectation crowd that isn’t disappointed when we lose and is surprised when we win.

Like my cousin…

That first text arrived shortly after the start of the second half of the Mexico-Japan Olympic semifinal. They were tied 1-1. She says Mexico will play their hearts out but lose, like always. I “politely” tell her to shut up. And seconds later, Mexico scores!!! GOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL de MEXICOOOOOOOO

Eat it!

Mexico will be on the medal stand. The quest for Olympic gold continues.

Rocky-style victory lap for Mexico

Play this to set the reading mood.

I’m imagining the Rocky soundtrack playing in the background as Hector Herrera starts running around the field, arms wide open, grin even wider. Mexico will — at least — equal their best appearance in an Olympic games. They’re going to the semifinals.

That victory lap is very well-deserved. Those quarterfinal games of Men’s Olympic Soccer over the weekend were a cardiac-arrest moment for fans all over the world. Honduras took an early lead on Brazil, only to see it stripped away. Team GB goes all the way to penalty kicks against Korea. Only one player — the last player — missed his PK, which unfortunately knocked out the host team.

And Mexico, yes mis tricolores, played 120 minutes to secure a spot in the semifinals. Tied 2-2 after regulation, Mexico scored in the first 15 minutes of extra time.

It’s way more stressful to watch as a team hangs to the slimmest of leads. It’s in those situations when you realize that time really is a fickle bitch  — if you want to savor a moment, it flies; if you want it to hurry up and be done; it feels like it goes backwards.

Herrera brought the collective sigh of relief when he scored the definitive 4-2 goal against Senegal.

The semifinal round starts tomorrow. Mexico will face off against Japan at 9 a.m. PST. Then, Brazil and Korea play at 11:45 a.m. PST.  

As I settle in for another excruciating 90 minutes, I’ll blast up the Rocky theme song and let the boys in green relish in a little more running… and jumping.

PHOTOS (from top): Mexico’s four goal-scorers celebrate during the game. Hector Herrera runs like mad in the final goal of the match. Gio Dos Santos, Jorge Enriquez and  Javier Aquino celebrate. Aquino keeps the piggy-back party alive. Herrera, Dos Santos, Aquino and Enriquez each scored a goal.

SPAIN: The Holy Trinity. The Mighty Triumvirate. The football version of Qarth.

Wow! I should dream big more often, voice my desires to the cosmos.

Spain is officially the best team there is and ever will be. (In my mind’s eye, there’s an ascending Mexico so I l have to leave some wiggle room.)

On Sunday, Spain won its third consecutive national championship — Euro Cup ’12. It was a decisive 4-0 show over Italy.  No “boring” Spanish play on display.  La Furia Roja came out attacking and went to halftime up 2-0.  The third goal came late in the second half from substitute extraordinaire Fernando Torres.

And there’s more!  Minutes later he manuevers a brilliant pass for his Chelsea teammate Mata.

So if you’re counting, that’s three goals and an assist for Torres for the tournament.

In the end, what catapulted Torres to the top of the leaderboard was what handicapped him too:  He had been benched for much of the tournament. Playing far fewer minutes than the other top-scorers.

That Spain won wasn’t a big surprise, but that freaking Fernando Torres took the Euro Cup 2012 Golden Boot award was.  I couldn’t dream that.  I just wanted him to get a chance to play in the final.

All who thought that would happen, please raise your hand. Bend at the elbow. Pat yourself on the back. And go buy a lottery ticket.

The cosmos are on your side.

PHOTOS: Spain celebrates in Kiev, and screenshot of UEFA Golden Boot website.

Jesus saves


By now, you should gather I have a slight crush on one Jota Jota Corona (here too and here). And if you don’t know, now you know:  José de Jesús CORONA has been Mexico’s go-to goalie for some of their last international games, including Sunday’s friendly against Brazil and today’s first World Cup 2014 qualifying match against Guyana.

He’s done a bang-up job of keeping the riff-raff out of the net — punching, diving, deflecting, saving. Yes, Jesus saves!

(PS, I used to have a really cute cartoon t-shirt of Jesus as a goalie in my ol’ AYSO days. Not the above, but you get the picture… and no, it didn’t give me any special skills when I had to play goalie. Man, I sucked.)

Back to present-day Jesus. Yes, he saves!! …Unless, it’s an auto goal.

Oops.

Look, not everyone’s perfect. I’m just happy he had enough sense not to head-butt his teammate for that deflection. I’ve waited a long time to see him with the main selection, and I’ll be the first to hunt him down and kick him if he effs it up for me.

Damned if I see Ochoa against El Salvador on Tuesday.

PHOTOS: “Jesus saves” t-shirt design from here and Jota Jota Corona celebrating during Mexico’s 3-1 victory over Guyana.