Thursday, September 13, 2007

Brazil v. Mexico Roundup

Last night my wife and I, along with some good friends, attended the Brazil-Mexico friendly held in Foxboro, Massachusetts. It was our first time attending a Brazil match, and it was quite an experience.

We live only a few minutes from the stadium, but left our house nearly two hours before the start to make sure we arrived in time, and it was a good thing we did. 495, one of the major interstate highways that leads to the stadium, was jam-packed with cars full of revelers, with many hanging out of their windows waving giant flags. The Brazil fans outnumbered Mexico’s (probably by a ratio of 8-1) but the Mexican supporters were very noticeable in their large sombreros.

After negotiating 495 and the equally treacherous Route 1 (the notorious two-lane blacktop that directly feeds Gillette Stadium) we arrived at the parking lot, and forked over $40.00 for parking. Because the Kraft family (owners of the stadium and the MLS team the New England Revolution) haven’t ripped us off enough this year.

Eventually we made our way into the stadium. It was a beautiful sea of yellow. The crowd was already going crazy ten minutes before kick-off, and just got louder as the teams came out. We were lucky, too. We had great seats behind the goal and both national teams brought their stars: Mexico had Rafa Marquez in defense and Brazil brought Robinho, Dani Alves, and Elano. Oh, yeah. Also Kaka and Ronaldinho.

The first half was great. Brazil played in constant attack and we sat right behind the Mexican goal and watched one shot after another. Ronaldinho was particularly fine the whole night; his incisive passes set up countless attacks, and he really looked like one of the best players in the world (often times he does not when he plays for Barca.) Clearly everyone on both sides came to play. Kaka was quoted after the game as saying everyone played so hard at least partially because of the fanatical Brazilian support from the stands.

Although Brazil was clearly the better team in the first half, Mexico struck first on a lightening-quick counter-attack finished by Juan Carlos Cacho in the 42 minute. Brazil got it back moments later on a corner finished by Klebler, and Brazil never looked back. In the second both teams opened it up and really starting attacking. Brazil got a second on a sweet goal by Kaka and a third on a killer strike by Alfonso Alves. The big stars stayed on the field until nearly the end, and thus I left feeling I got my money’s worth. Everyone played, everyone played hard, and I saw some fantastic football played by genuine world stars.

Other assorted thoughts from the game…

  • It isn’t hard to figure out why Dani Alves is one of the best players in the world if you watch him closely. The right back was constantly moving up to threaten in attack, and would then zip back to break things up on defense. Truly a two-way player, and a clear threat on offense. Chelsea, he might very well have been worth it…
  • I wish both teams would have put names on their shirts as well as the numbers. I thought Elano scored the first goal, and I didn’t even realize that 18-year-old Barca starlet Giovani Dos Santos had taken the field as a sub for Mexico. I would have watched this up-and-comer much more closely had I known.

  • The ‘Keystone Kops’ level of security at Gillette was laughable. Our section (right behind the goal) was flooded with people from the cheap seats who wanted to be closer to the action. Many were sitting in seats they didn’t buy and the aisles were completely blocked. Twice security tried to clear things out and openly gave up the second time, clearly intimidated by the Brazilian and Mexican supporters. If something bad had happened, it could have been a bloodbath. Luckily, everyone we encountered, from both sides, was good natured, so everything was fine.
  • But, as my wife has pointed out, the security goons at Gillette don’t mind busting chops and cracking heads when it’s the 13-year-old girls who attend the Revolution games. Then security keeps the aisles clear.Let’s not be frightened just because some guy is wearing a sombrero, okay fellas?

  • Finally, the Boston Globe is reporting that the game was considered such a success that Brazil will almost definitely come back again. I say great: this was a fun experience for any football lover, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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