Win or Lose, a Day to Remember

I’ve now had two days to recover from the Copa Oro games we went to on Sunday, pero todavia estoy completamente rendida.

The night before, I couldn’t sleep, half from excitement and half from anxiety about the tickets. Following the wise advice of a friend, we arrived hours early at the stadium. (Gracias to Rudy, who we actually got to meet briefly at the game.)

We went straight to the “Will Call” window and I gave them my I.D. I watched them shuffle around and come up empty-handed. I watched them check and re-check. I knew this would happen. They apologized that they didn’t have tickets for me under my name. I called the number of the on-site manager that State Farm had given me in case I ran into problems – he assured me he had the tickets on him. When we met him in the parking lot where State Farm had set up, true to his word, he had the tickets. I resisted kissing him and instead let him tell me about some of the fun things they were doing there.

I talked with someone about the sOccket ball and she showed me how it worked. I also got to check out the State Farm iPhone app, Kick4ACause which allows you to donate electricity just by playing the game. [See video of me playing]

As Carlos and I decided what to do next, a mini-Salvadoran pride parade broke out. Of course we joined in.

The parade went around the parking lot making all kinds of noise. At one point we clashed with a group of panameños, but after dancing with them for awhile, the parade continued on, much to the bewilderment of gringos trying to tailgate in peace.

When gringos tried to interact with Salvadorans though, the Salvadoran response always made me smile. When gringos shouted “U.S.A.!” – the Salvadorans didn’t feel threatened – they joined them in chants for the red, white and blue. I wonder if this made an impression on anyone in that parking lot who had expected a different reaction – to realize that it’s possible to have enough love for the place of your birth, language or culture – but feel equally proud of the country you now live in.

After the mini-parade we sought shade and a late [very expensive] lunch inside the stadium. We found our seats and waited.

Salvadorans seemed amused by my "Guanaco Pitbull" shirt, but I didn't realize how confusing it would be for non-Salvadorans, who seemed to puzzle over what it meant.

While waiting, I observed a lot of Salvadorans who came prepared to not only cheer on El Salvador, but the United States as well. Many wore La Selecta T-shirts, but carried American flags. The “U.S.A.!” chant was alive and well in sections full of Salvadorans during the U.S. vs. Jamaica game.

The game itself was great, but the sky was so cloudy that I wasn’t able to access Twitter on my phone which was frustrating.

After the United States won, we were all full of happiness and hope for El Salvador.

Hearing the crowd sing the Himno Nacional de El Salvador made me tear up a little. To look around and know that all these Salvadorans were here together even though many, like Carlos, were far from their homeland… It’s difficult for me to put in words.

Being at the actual game instead of watching it on television is a unique experience. I’ve watched a lot of Salvadoran fútbol games on T.V. but never heard the crowd whistling in unison. Salvadorans have a unique way of whistling, (I wish I had caught it on video), but when you have thousands of people doing this, it sounds sort of like a forest full of parrots.

Speaking of whistling, at one point in the game, a Salvadoran player fell on top of a Panamanian player in a position that looked somewhat compromising. This got some funny responses from the crowd which I won’t repeat, but you definitely don’t get that on T.V. either.

As for the game – La Selecta missed a lot of opportunities on the field, but they did get this penalty shot which was very exciting.

Another highlight for me was seeing a guy run across the field with the Salvadoran flag. I know that’s frowned upon but it amused me, (and he was really fast. Maybe La Selecta should draft him?)

An unidentified man carries an El Salvador flag as he runs on the field during the second half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Panama and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(You can’t see on my video, but you can see in others that the Panamanian goalie threw the U.S. flag out of the goal. That’s what the booing was about at the end of the video.)

El Salvador was ready to win… and then Panama scored a goal in the last minute… at least they say they scored a goal. I’ve watched the replay two dozen times and can’t decide if it was good or not. If only there was video of it from the other side – pero ni modo, what’s done is done. There’s no use being bitter about it.

Okay…maybe a little.

Cover of El Diario de Hoy / Deportes

Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the game:

As you see, some guys had a banner that proclaimed Zelaya to be better than Chicharito. While I was there to support La Selecta with all my heart, I’m not so sure I agree. My Pitbull didn’t do much better. The game was full of excitement, tense moments, joy, disappointment – the poor Salvadorans around me went from elated to crushed over and over again. One guy often took his frustration out on the empty stadium seat in front of him. By the end of the game I was kind of surprised he hadn’t managed to rip it out as he repeatedly pounded on it screaming “P*TA! P*TA! P*TA! HIJUEP*TA!”

Carlos was calmer than that though I heard him say a few choice words under his breath after the final penalty shot shoot-out decided our fate.

Win or lose, it was an amazing experience. I know it was particularly special for Carlos. I asked him what it felt like being in the stadium surrounded by so many Salvadorans. He said it reminded him of home and the games he used to go to with his friends. The good thing about Salvadorans is that even though Carlos didn’t have his old friends with him, the guys seated around us were more than willing to fill-in for the day. I know Carlos to be a mostly quiet guy, but when he’s with other salvadoreños he opens up and is actually quite talkative. I love to see him uninhibited like that. [ Read Carlos’s post about the day here.]

The game came to an end, but the brotherly love was far from over. On the way out of the stadium I was nearly crushed, (this panicked me for a minute but I knew Carlos would throw people left and right if I were in any danger.) … Then we missed the first Metro train because it was impossible to fit anymore people on it. We waited twenty more minutes for the pleasure of being crushed on the next train. Besides myself, I think there was only one other woman on the train – it was packed with young men wearing blue, and all of us, (myself included), were in serious need of some deodorant after a long day in the sun.

Despite the heat, lack of personal space, exhaustion and loss of the game, the group on the train remained in good spirits.

“Yo soy salvadoreño!” shouted one man still full of pride and warrior spirit, “Soy guerilla!”
A man from the other side of the train answered him back,
“Guerilla mi c*lo!”

(Don’t ask me to translate it to English. Somehow, it’s not as funny like that.)

Disclosure: I attended the Gold Cup games at the invitation of State Farm. All opinions are my own.


  1. WOW! WOW! WOW! That seriously looks like it was SO much fun! I wasn’t able to watch the game, but I swear I saw you on one of the Mexican sports shows when they were recapping the games. (Even if it wasn’t, I’m going to pretend that it was!)

    I get teary eyed when I hear The Star Spangled Banner on T.V. And I also get that way when I hear so many Mexicanos singing their national anthem as well, especially when outside of Mexico.

    So glad that you and Carlos had a good time.

    And there is no way that Zelaya is better than Chicharrito! :D

    • LOL – I’ve been trying to see myself on video of the game as well. Kind of hard when everyone is wearing blue.

      Agreed with you on Zelaya vs. Chicharito. Shhhhhh. LOL.

  2. Tracy! I’m so jealous! What an awesome experience! Great pics and video. I could feel the excitement in the parade, got teary eyed hearing the national anthem of El Salvador (with so many Salvadorans singing it) , the I phone app was cool too! What a cool experience. Looks like it was tons of fun. I would love to share an experience like that with my man! Very cool chica!

    • Thanks for your comment, amiga :) I hope you and your husband get to attend a game and see El Tri play – I know you’ll love it.

  3. I loved it, and even though I only met you for a brief second, it was amazing. I wanted to have a couple of pictures taken with you, but didn’t want to feel your hubby uneasy or myself for that matter. Right away I picked both of you in the crowd. I think you were in our section by looking at the pics. We were in 210 row 4. I was also proud and really surprised how much the Salvadoreans (not Salvadorans) how much they supported the US team. Glad you had fun, told you not to take metro, single tracking, Nats game and the triathlon. I should of told you about how companies set up stands for their own ticket pick up (will call). I’m glad you had fun.


    • LOL – I was wondering why you were so quick! … Now that Carlos knows you a little, we will have to meet up at another event and take photos next time.

      We were in the same area of the stadium! We had section 209, row 11.

      Thanks again for all the advice. (And even though Metro was crazy, I don’t regret taking it. It’s part of the experience. LOL.)

  4. Oye, lo del himno y estar rodeado asi con un monton de compatriotas siempre es algo especial. Cuando tenga chance voy a subir un video de la aficion cantando el himno en el Cuscatlan.

    Es dificil describir en palabras el sentimiento, como decis. Yo por lo menos tengo el lujo de poder visitar mi tierra cuando lo economico me lo permite, pero tambien hay muchos en USA que no pueden por cuestiones legales. Ha de ser doble la emocion para ellos poder tener un poco de guanacolandia en su propio patio.

    • Ezzy – first time for everything! This was my first one too and I’ve loved the sport since I was a teenager. Hope you get out to a game sometime soon. It is really a worthwhile experience.

  5. Wow that’s way more exciting than how I watched it!!! Haha we only saw the end because we weren’t sure what time it started and we had to watch it en vivo on the computer. It was a pretty crushing loss for my hubby, but I think he’s getting over it.

  6. Wow Tracy, qué experiencia,tanto para ti como para Carlos. Me imagino el ambiente en el estadio! Cuando escuché el himno sentí que se me estrujaba el corazón. Es muy emotivo.
    Me alegra que las guanacos se hayan divertido y comportado ok a pesar de haber perdido. Ojalá que para el equipo haya sido una buena experiencia y que se den cuenta de lo importante de una buena preparación física y emocional (vi a unos jugadores gritándose como muy molestos) antes de enfrentarse con un rival.
    Qué weid eso del chavo gritando en el Metro que era guerrilla! Gracias a DIos yo no estaba cerca!!!!!

    • LOL, el hombre gritando en el Metro solo estaba jugando.

      Yo también espero que este fue un “learning experience” por los jugadores de la Selecta.

  7. It surely was an exciting/prideful time. Hearing what seemed to be the entire RFK stadium singing the Salvadorean anthem brought me goose bumps. My father has shared plenty of stories of what a futbol game in El Salvador is like when the team is playing for something. The crowd was electric, the stands were covered in blue & white, what a feeling of pride. Sadly out team couldn’t close the show, and as hard as it is to say, you have to give Panama credit, they kept pushing the ball, made a few more plays then we did and got the win. Oh and pitbull, that score Panama had at the end was a goal, I saw the replay from the back of the net, and our goalie was inside the box and the ball had crossed the line when he got his hands on it. I’m more upset that we missed that 1st penalty kick (not the one PK’s, the one called in the 1st half). You can’t leave easy points on the filed, especially in futbol. Despite that, I agree with your title, it was a day to remember.

    P.S. Great pics and video.

    • Agreed on all points …though with the goal, (not to beat a dead horse) – even if the ball crossed the line – it looked like it was hit with the forearm or hand, which would mean it’s not a goal, of course. Anyway, even for those of us who are skeptical, no vale la pena to obsess over it… Panama did play hard – it was a good match.

      Thanks for your comment, Orlando.

  8. Ay, amiga – I love you! I’ve read this twice already. Thank you for capturing the moment and letting us re-live it. Wow, I would have done almost anything to be there. Sunday estuvo a todo dar, con la familia viendo el partido–super emocionante! The fan that ran across the field was classic. Mi tio said Ese pobrecito va llegar al Salvador mas rapido que el equipo, de un solo verg@$o pa la migra, papa! Jaja, que bayunco! It was comedic relief for all of us.

    I’m still dreaming of what could have happened if El Salvador would’ve advanced to play USA; I’d probably be surrounded by THOUSANDS of Salvadorans right now!–since I work right next to Reliant Stadium where the Gold Cup semi-finals are ’bout to go down.

    Pues mi modo. Asi fue. USA all the way now! Salvadorans have always been for the Red, White & Blue in futbol. We still proud of #LaSelecta!

  9. Looks like so much fun!!! I’m definitely going to look in to this for my husband…I’ve suggested it in the past, but he always acts like he wouldn’t like to go. I KNOW he would have fun. Loved all your pictures and videos!

  10. “Tailgating in peace” that caught me as funny because I don’t equate tailgating with being peaceful, but in comparison to the impromptu parade, I guess it is! :-) I also loved the Donovan and ES #1 foam finger photo. That would’ve been me at the match. I didn’t realize that the ES Himno nat’l was so beautiful. I actually teared up (although pretty much all national anthems do that to me though). When we used to live in DC, I used to tease and say there were more Salvadoreños in the DC area than in the entire country of El Salvador, so I’m not surprised that the stadium was packed. That is awesome. I’m so glad you had such a great time. We were watching the game and I was thinking of you! We were also greatly disappointed by their loss, and especially by the loss of Guatemala. :-( I guess next for us is Honduras and the US!

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