Mexico is the most popular soccer team in the United States.
Mexico is the most popular soccer team in the United States
In late 1993, buoyed by having qualified for the World Cup in the United States the next year, Mexico stepped outside its usual sites — Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and New York — to play an exhibition game in San Diego.News and features from around the world of soccer and the Web.
Fans of Mexico’s soccer team have been turning out in impressive numbers for a series of exhibition games in the United States in recent years. Promoters, who had never attracted more than 20,000 fans to a soccer game unaccompanied by a concert, would have been thrilled to hit that mark on a midweek night game against China.
But when the game arrived, they were overwhelmed. Traffic heading north from the border on Interstate 805 was backed up for miles, and as kickoff approached, people began to park on the side of the road. They walked down embankments and through a creek and dashed across streets to reach Jack Murphy Stadium. Once there, long lines snaked from ticket windows.
When the crowd finally settled in, shortly after halftime, nearly 50,000 people filled the stadium.
“That game, in a way, opened the eyes of the Mexican national team and promoters of what was possible if you took risks,” said Paul Mendes, who has been involved with organizing Mexico’s games in the United States for much of the last two decades. “It set off a wave.”
That wave is growing. Mexico’s trips to the United States, including Friday night’s sold-out exhibition against Ecuador at the new 75,000-seat stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey, are big business.
Mexico will play Senegal at Soldier Field in Chicago on Monday and Angola at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Thursday. By the end of the tour, which is to prepare Mexico’s players for the World Cup, the team known as El Tricolor will have played six games in the United States in less than three months, almost all before capacity crowds.
When Mexico played New Zealand at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in March, the only game in which European-based players performed, 90,000 packed the Rose Bowl on a Wednesday night. It was easy to see what brings Mexico back.
Not just the sheer numbers of fans, many of whom paid more than $40 for tickets — about double what tickets would cost in Mexico — but also in the hours leading up to the game, the bustling fiesta that surrounded the stadium had the air of a carnival with face painting, lucha libre acts, bands and games.
It was a far different atmosphere a decade ago, when Mexico…READ MORE HERE.