Viva the 12th hombre

By JOEL WILLITS

  • Monday, June 2, 2008 4:00pm
  • Sports

Fans

Huge crowd cheers for Mexican soccer team

By JOEL WILLITS

Bellevue Reporter

As it has time and time again, the 12th man came alive at Qwest Field on Wednesday night.

However, this time the crowd wasn’t cheering for its home team, the Seattle Seahawks, but for a team hailing from where many Northwest residents call home.

The normal Seahawks blue in the stands was instead replaced by the red, green and white of the Mexican National soccer team, which defeated China 1-0 in a friendly match in front of 56,416 raucous fans.

“The atmosphere was just electrifying from a fan’s standpoint,” said Ernesto Bruce, a sports marketing manager with adidas soccer, the official supplier of the Mexican national team.

“There are lots of colors; the people are very prideful of their national team,” Bruce said.

The red, green and white was everywhere: there was no doubt the crowd was behind the Mexican team, with few China supporters in the crowd. The stands erupted when 19-year-old Cesar Villaluz scored in the 14th minute to give the Mexican National team the only goal it would need, despite several chances during the game.

“The Mexican national team plays a very exciting style of soccer,” Bruce said. “They’re one of the top federations in the world and they bring in a lot of young players that are very fun to watch.”

The game was preceded by a fan fest outside the stadium that allowed supporters to show their support of the national team. The event gave the fans an opportunity to sign a giant, 20-foot tall inflatable replica of the Mexican national team jersey that travels to all the team’s games.

“It’s an amazing jersey and it uses some of the designs of the 1986 World Cup Mexican jersey,” Bruce said. “It’s just another way of transcending borders.”

The fan turnout surprised even the event organizers. Bruce said initially only 20,000 seats were opened for sale, but that quickly became 40,000 thanks to demand before finally ending up with 56,416 announced attendance.

The game came only a week after the Seattle Major League Soccer team announced fans had voted Seattle Sounders FC (football club) as the name of the new franchise.

“We came here because we knew there was excitement in Seattle for soccer,” Bruce said. “We want to show fans that it’s not just about MLS teams, but about the broader image.”

Joel Willits can be reached at 425-453-4270 ext. 5060 or at jwillits@reporternewspapers.com.

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