Beginnings ...

Chaco Giminez
I could write about my first Mexican League match (Cruz Azul v Morelia, first leg of playoff semifinal) , in great detail, but I'd much rather write about my experience of attending my first Mexican football match.   
Being an American living in Mexico, my reference points for comparing this experience were a bit weak.  I have attended American football and baseball games regularly, but due to my country of origin (and my overall distaste for the MLS), opportunities to attend soccer/football matches have been slim to none.  The lack of available live matches has yet to stop me from waking bright and early on Saturday mornings to digest as much EPL as possible.  

Entering Azul stadium for the first time presented relatively few surprises ... a moderately sized stadium with all the feel and look one might expect. However, digging a little deeper, there were some real surprises to be found.  For one, the behavior of the spectators shocked me.  People would practically leap out of their seats to assist a woman or an elderly man into their seats.  When making their way to their seats, it was perfectly acceptable to use the person in front of you as a crutch; the human crutch would not even blink an eye.  I was a little taken aback by this frequent use of dinner party manners.  I assumed one was to only acknowledge their fellow fans when passing their beer or when a funny insult is hurled at one of the players.

When purchasing a ticket for a Cruz Azul home match you are also treated to a bevy of interesting sights outside of the actual football.  Inexplicably, the train related entertainment is quite abundant.  The inflatable steam engine to the consistent train whistles force you to ponder the connection.  I think I saw some train tracks a few blocks away?  Also, not sure where the bunny mascot fits in, but he definitely rides in on some kind of cardboard train.   If all of this pregame excitement has not filled your non-football interests, the half time show is sure to please.  During the match I attended, Las Celestes, broke out in a Guns n' Roses dance routine complete with bunny air guitar.  Good times.

There was also a football match being played at the stadium that night.  Cruz Azul took the early lead when Chaco Gimenez sent a free kick through the hands of Morelia's keeper (whom I fondly referred to as Steve Perry ... due to the uncanny resemblance to the Journey front man ). Chaco set up his fellow Argentine, Emmanuel Villa,  at the 46th minute for the second goal that gave Azul a solid 2-0 lead heading  in to the second leg in three days.

The crowd was a jubilant mess while filing out of the narrow corridors of Azul Stadium that night.  The best description I could give for both the smell and feel of the exiting process would be a Turkish bath mosh pit.  Luckily it was a happy Turkish bath mosh pit. 

The second leg was a complete debacle.  Morelia would end up winning 3-0 and advancing to lose to Pumas in the final.  The match didn't end before fading into a baseball style bench clearing brawl.  The two highlights of which were Chaco pummeling a fan who entered the pitch and Azul's keeper, Jesus Corona (best name ever?), delivering the most vicious head butt I have ever seen to a Morelia assistant coach. 

So, that's my new team.  This should be interesting. 

By Jason Marquitz

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