May 29, 2012, 6:57 PM EDT
For U.S. Soccer fans, seeing Mexico sell out every friendly up north is a bitter sweet. After all, while the U.S. men’s national team has no trouble selling tickets, some of the crowds that show up for El Tri are downright enviable.
For U.S. soccer fans (lowercase ‘s’), though, seeing the Mexican national team selling out Cowboys Stadium isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
That will be the scene on Sunday, when the Mexican national team “welcomes” Brazil to Arlington for a crowd that should eclipse 80,000. It’s a number Mexico’s reached the two previous times they played at Cowboys Stadium, drawing 85,000 for a 2009 Gold Cup match against Haiti before luring 80,108 or El Salvador last summer.
The last time the U.S. drew as many fans was the last year’s Gold Cup final, when 93,420 showed up at the Rose Bowl. Of course, that game was against Mexico.
The last time they drew over 80,000 against somebody other than Mexico? It’s not really a fair question, since most venues the U.S. plays in can’t hold that many people.
Still, there are two recent U.S. friendlies that show just how remarkable Mexico’s numbers are. In March 2011, the U.S. hosted Argentina at the 82,566-capacity New Meadowlands Stadium a drew a huge crowd: 78,936. Seven months earlier at the same venue, the U.S.’s match against Brazil drew 77,223.
To me, those are awesome numbers: 78,936 and 77,223. That Mexico’s besting those totals at Cowboys Stadium might be worth a grumble or two, but how many soccer cultures across the globe could show that kind of support for one team, let alone two?
We like to think of U.S. soccer and its national teams as being tied at the hip, but we live in a very diverse place. Mexico’s not the only team that has a lot of supporters living within these borders, and while that’s not an ideal scenario for diehard USMNT fans, it makes for a fervent soccer environment.
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