Mexico vs. Argentina: Okay, Now It’s Over…

Everyday, I discover knew ways to indulge my World Cup obsession. Games alone will not suffice. Newspaper and news websites help. But I’m really burning through that stuff. My metabolism demands a fresh meal about every two hours.

Scavenging about, I’ve turned to conversations with cab drivers, nightly television re-caps and re-plays of re-plays of re-plays, and then of course, just general contemplation about soccer and the globe, and how teams are metaphors for their countries’ national spirits.

I watched the England and U.S. game (a tie! a glorious impate!) in a bar, surrounded by Americans, Brits, and a sprinkling of Mexicans and assorted others. Two moments specifically stand out in my head. The first occurred when Carlos Bocanegra, a U.S. player, made some great play. Someone in the crowd (presumably Argentinean) shouted out something about his “origen Argentino!” And then someone else (presumably American) responded “Hey, anyone can be an American!”

Patriotic bar banter of the highest order!

Likewise, later, some American player got hurt, looked genuinely in pain, and then brushed himself off and continued playing. “Look! He gets up! He keeps working!” someone else shouted.

Are the Ghanian fans, the Italian fans, the South Korean fans and the like making these same off-the-cuff remarks?

No? Right? In some kind of hypothetical highly-charged environment, they’d probably be shouting out something different. In France, they’d probably direct commentary toward the coach or the country’s supposedly angry immigrant population.

But Mexico also has a distinct attitude. Like the U.S., the Mexican “TRI” team is earnest,  yearning and not over-confident. But the Mexican team seems much more focused on the rest of the world’s reactions to its players and skills.  As round one proceeded, El Universal’s loaded up with stories about which international teams were interested in which Mexican players. In the U.S. coverage of the American team, I saw that…never. Maybe, the stories are out there. I just didn’t spot them.

Another theme in the Mexican coverage: Self-doubt. Before the game, the team’s captain Rafa Marquez was widely quoted as saying, essentially, “yeah we’re playing Argentina–and what?” Mexico could still win. But despite, the pre-game bravado, Marquez still lost it on the field after a controversial Argentina goal, which many thought should have been ruled offsides.

But apparently, Marquez has a history of flipping out. Or so says the New York Times. Here’s a description from their soccer blog:

HALFTIME Mexican falling apart

In every way possible. As the players head to the locker room, the referees and match officials have to separate the two teams — and not surprisingly Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Maradona are in the middle of the scrum. Just another example of Mexico coming unglued — much as it did against the United States in the second round in 2002, when Rafael Marquez was given a red card for his flying karate kick header that knocked Cobi Jones into next week. If Mexico is looking for clues as to why it hasn’t advanced past the second round, this is as good as any. The play hard and fiercely, but at the first sign of adversity El Tri comes unglued.

And well, the game ended 3-1, with Argentina advancing and Javier Hernandez—lover of white bread—scoring once and barely enjoying it. The U.S. of course had also lost recently, the day before (to Ghana).

But I believe the reactions were pretty different. The Americans, especially Michael Bradley, just appeared stunned that their sheer determination wasn’t enough. Unlike so many other times before in this Cup, they hadn’t pulled through.

The Mexicans, on the other hand, looked simply dejected, rather than shocked. Of course their competition was much more fierce. But still.

I watched the game at a restaurant in Valle de Bravo with my mom. Afterwards, she immediately remarked. “Wow, no one’s even talking about the game.”

Picture by me, Sunday in Parque Chapultepec. Can you believe Narcos run this country?


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