FC Dallas

Mexican soccer fans relish spirit of home with match at AT&T Stadium

For a few hours Sunday night, Arlington turned into Mexico City.

Apologies to Ecuador, but most of the nearly 60,000 in attendance at AT&T Stadium were there to cheer on the Mexican National Team in an international soccer match.

Mexico’s fans went home happy, too, with a 3-2 win.

For most of the day, inside and outside the stadium, the sights and sounds rivaled all of the hallmarks of one of those spectacle soccer matches most of us have only seen via satellite. Impromptu chants of “Mexico! Mexico! Mexico!” popped up throughout the stadium and the monotone sounds of vuvuzelas kept the night’s soundtrack on par with any European World Cup match.

And the Mexican pride, on display with hundreds of Mexican flags being flown, worn and carried around like jersey colors, were more prevalent than Ezekiel Elliott jerseys at a Dallas Cowboys game.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of fans came in from across Texas, Mexico and Latin America for the match.

“Soccer is Mexico,” said Giselle Rios, 20, who drove in with more than 10 friends and family in a caravan of cars and trucks from Zacatecas, which is in central Mexico. “This is a soccer-based family. It’s part of the culture.”

Her brother Jesus, 12, was wrapped in a Mexican flag and wore Mexico-inspired face paint.

It was a 24-hour drive to Arlington, where they met up with cousin Miguel Lara, 22, an electrician in Fort Worth

“We’re in many cars. A bunch of people,” Rios said. “It was very worth it.”

The fiesta spilled back out into the parking lot with Mexico cheering on its win.

“Before the game, we had our traditional Mexican music out there, we feel like we’re at home, we feel like we’re safe,” Lara said. “It’s a wonderful atmosphere here. Everyone is having fun, whether we’re sober or we’re drunk.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.