July 20, 2008
Wake Med Soccer Park
Rayados de Monterrey (0)* vs. Carolina Railhawks (0) *4-1 on penalties
After the British spread the gospel of football to South American shores during an era of accelerated globalization, it wasn’t long before British teams began to tour the continent. The tens of thousands of British ex-pats in Rio, Montevideo and Buenos Aires flocked to the stadiums to see their compatriots play against the locals. Tecate is doing much the same thing in the United States, bringing Mexican first division teams al norte to 1) sell beer 2) sell beer 3) sell beer to the Latin American ex-pats in the USA. And so it was that Los Rayados de Monterrey came to Cary to play the Carolina Railhawks for the Tecate Cup, from which no one can drink.
If one could have heard over the din of the Mexican National Anthem being belted out by 6,000 Mexicans, one would have most likely heard Jesse Helms rolling over in his grave. There’s nothing to stir up some reactionary nativism like a public space in US American suburbia turning into a venue for Mexican nationalism, replete with a mariachi band playing the extended dance mix of the “Mexicans, at the cry of war.”
The 95 degree heat was augmented by mold-inducing humidity, so it was a huge surprise that Carolina came out with a vigorous attack. After several squandered corners that yielded counterattacking fruit for Monterry, Fusilier won a ball in midfield, skirted a defender and put Nunes through to goal. The portero rushed off his line, out of the box and threw himself lengthwise at the Uruguayan’s feet stopping the ball...with his hands! The referee signaled as such, yet mysteriously, incredibly, benightedly kept all his cards in his pocket. An 18th minute red card for the wayward goliero was what the laws of the game and about 700 Hawks’ faithful demanded. The ensuing freekick whistled past the top right corner, neatly sidestepping long-entrenched notions of karmic justice.
The first half produced some end to end action, with Monterry enjoying the better of possession and chances. Carolina made little use of their set pieces, failing to generate a chance on goal from 4 corners and multiple free kicks, but looked to be a much more organized and inspired squad than the were on Friday night. For their part, Monterrey provided little service for Jared Borgetti but always looked capable, if not committed, going forward. Borgetti’s one chance came in the 45th minute following a counter attack from a corner kick. San Fellipo raced across the goal to block, and the halftime whistle signaled that it was time for another Tecate. Borgetti did not return for the second half.
Neither team showed much urgency in attack after the break, though if not for a massive intervention by Kupono Low, Carolina would have been down after 5 minutes. The Hawks’ #2 keeper (Levvy) made many a meal out of small potatoes, letting #1 McClellan thoroughly enjoy his day off. 2007 leading scorer Antoniuk was brought off in the 56th; a good move considering his lack of service and aimless wandering in a anemic attack. It was only going to be a mistake that brought a goal as the game wore on, the remaining action coming from the substitutes bench. In the 80th minute, Carolina subbed four players at once, as rare a sight as an actual Railhawk.
Because this was the Tecate Cup, someone had to win, or at least not lose, and this is just what penalties are designed for. Several clinical finishes from Monterrey sealed the deal and as the Mexican team tromped off to the locker room Tecate representatives were only just able to grab the captain who sheepishly held the “cup” aloft as someone snapped a picture with a disposable camera. Many thousands of smiles all around, millions of collective miles to get there. Such is fútbol.