I arrived in Mexico this afternoon eager to find out if a buzz existed about tomorrow’s Gold Cup final between Mexico and the USA. Coming into a touristy airport like Cancun doesn’t tell you much about Mexico. In fact you might as well be somewhere in middle America, because probably less awareness of the beautiful game exists in beach laden tourist traps that cater to Americans who don’t travel much outside their neighborhood than in your average urban area in the US.
But Cancun of course wasn’t my final destination today, just my point of entry. (Or more honestly the only city in the Yucatan with a nonstop to Fort Lauderdale.) After a bus ride to Playa Del Carman, I walked through the city streets before boarding a ferry for Cozumel. In the town of Playa Del Carman a buzz permeated about the match whenever in my very poor Spanish I brought up the match. The locals feel that Hugo Sanchez is depending too much on grizzled old warriors and not deepening the player pool enough to match the energy and pace of the Americans. Now of course a year ago the Mexicans were complaining that Ricardo LaVolpe had chased away too many veterans from the national team and that he could beat the USA either.
On board the ferry a different view was brought to my attention. “The Americans can’t beat us forever,” said one passenger and “ They miss Reyna and McBride,” said another. Then after arriving in Cozumel and checking into my hotel room I ventured into San Miguel away from the tourist traps and chain restaurants to a small outdoor cafe' named La Moreno. In my broken Spanish I spoke with the cooks and waiters (some of whom knew enough English to understand me even when I misused some words) about tomorrow. The consensus at the cafe' was that Hugo Sanchez is "el loco" and should be sacked if he cannot beat the USA tomorrow. I agreed to come back to the same restaurant tomorrow to watch the game (which sadly means I will miss our EPL Talk Chat) on a big screen TV they are renting for the event. Yes this game means that much to the Mexicans. Considering we have a hex over Mexico, I just wish people back home would even be aware of what our national team has accomplished and what a big game Chicago is hosting tomorrow.