Fan Culture

A memorable day for Pumas fans despite the loss

Photo: Casey Pladus

From the start, head coach Juan Antonio Torres Servin believed that Pumas UNAM would attract a highly supportive crowd to PPL Park as the Mexico City-based team faced the Philadelphia Union in a friendly Saturday night.

“If there is a Mexican population in Philadelphia, there are definitely Pumas fans here,” Servin said.

The stadium didn’t come close to maximum capacity, though this didn’t seem to have any effect on the energy of the crowd or the intensity of the game.

Within the first two minutes of play, a scuffle erupted between both teams that caused all three refs to separate the two sides. More scrappy play ensued throughout the match, and both sides ultimately received three cautions each by the close of the game.

“A couple of players start getting into fights,” forward Luis Garcia said. “After that everyone starts looking for that. It isn’t nice, but it is football. You have to get used to it.”

While the Union came out on top, outscoring their opponent 1-0 with a goal from Michael Farfan, the quality of play from both teams seemed, for the most part, evenly matched. The game had very few spectacular moments, although there were some impressive saves by both goalkeepers.

“The first half was a bit tough for both teams; the second half both teams improved,” Garcia said. “They were pressing and didn’t let us go onto our pitch.” The Spanish-born player has competed in some of the top leagues in the world, playing professionally for FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid of La Liga and Liverpool of the EPL.

“I think they [Union] are improving,” Garcia said. “They are only a few games into their season and have more work to do. They have quality players and they showed today. Of course we don’t know too much about them, but there are a couple players that I like how they play.”

Pumas fans

It was the fans who endured a chilly Saturday evening that proved to be the real winners of the match. It was no surprise that the Union fans in attendance made their passionate support for the home team heard.

It was Pumas fans, however, that seemed to have the most at stake in the game. While small in number, their dedication to the team far surpassed the lack of bodies present in the stadium.

For many of the fans, it would be their first time seeing their favorite team play in person.

“We are surprised that this team traveled all the way here to beat Philadelphia Union,” Manuel, a devoted Pumas fan, said before the match. “I am crazy happy about this because this might never happen again.” Manuel, who traveled with eight other Pumas fans from Maryland to come to PPL Park for the first time, said that he follows the team faithfully.

“TV, radio, internet, whatever it is,” he said. “But today, this is actually my first day seeing them play in person.”

Manuel wasn’t the only Pumas fan who had never seen the team play in person. Brothers Felipe and Victor made the trek to PPL Park from Delaware, a trip that they had done several times in the past to support the Union. This time, however, it was for a much different purpose.

Felipe, a devoted Pumas fan, stood side by side with his brother, a Chivas de Guadalajara supporter, during the match. It was only two years ago that they had made the trek to see the Union host Chivas.

The ultimate score of the match Saturday night didn’t have much of an effect on Felipe’s positive spirit.

“This is the first time I saw them live. It was very exciting,” said Felipe.

Delfino, a fan from South Jersey, said that he has been following Pumas “since I was a baby.” The PPL Park regular said many Pumas fans in the area were excited that the team made the trip to Philadelphia. Like Manuel from Maryland, Delfino believed that Pumas would easily defeat the Union.

The match itself may have seemed unmemorable especially in the wake of the epic snow-covered World Cup Qualifier the night before in Colorado.

For Pumas fans, however, it was a game that many of them will never forget.

“It was a nice stadium, and I think it’s a nice crowd, so we enjoyed it,” said Garcia. “It’s nice to come over to The States and have fun. I think more leagues should do that.”

 

One Comment

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