For many Mexicans, the word “Gracias” simply could not convey the gratitude they felt toward the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. Some Mexican newspapers and high-ranking officials recognized this and switched tongues on Wednesday morning to get their point across.
Mexico’s struggling national team, “El Tri,” was facing the very real prospect of elimination from the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday night. With minutes left to play, Mexico was losing 2-1 to Costa Rica, while Panama was simultaneously beating the U.S. by the same score. Had those scores held up, Mexico would have failed to qualify for the World Cup (for the first time since 1990), while Panama would have progressed to a World Cup playoff next month against New Zealand.
Then U.S. midfielder Graham Zusi intervened and became a Mexican hero. He scored the tying goal in stoppage time to deny Panama the two points it needed to overtake Mexico in the CONCACAF hexagonal standings. U.S. striker Aaron Johannsson scored another goal to complete the Mexican revival and Panamanian heartbreak.
Mexican announcer Christian Martinoli cried “God Bless America,” (in perfect English) after Zusi’s goal. A number of Mexico’s daily newspapers followed his lead in thanking U.S. soccer for giving them a second chance.
Former Mexican president Felipe Calderon expressed similar feelings, saying (translated from perfect Spanish) “Another goal for the United States. Playoff courtesy of the gringos.
“I received the national team as World U-17 champion, gold medal at the Pan American Games, Olympic gold medal. What happened?”
[tweet https://twitter.com/FelipeCalderon/statuses/390316810819862528 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/FelipeCalderon/statuses/390318158449741824 align=’center’]
Mexico will host New Zealand on Nov. 13 and visit the Kiwis on Nov. 20. The team that scores the most goals on aggregate will book its place in Brazil for next summer’s tournament.
Unfortunately for Mexico, Zusi can’t suit up for El Tri. The U.S. and Sporting Kansas City star is a full-blooded American. The Mexicans must beat New Zealand on their own.
See the front pages of some Mexican newspapers below.
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