La Celebration

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It is Sunday. Outside the stadium those left behind linger, listening, the rhythm that had floated among them in the dirt lot having drifted into the stands.

Young boys weave through gaps between men and women, cup after cup of beer rising above their darting heads on the concourse. A father, surrounded by women in tight clothes emblazoned with the name of soft drink, hoists his daughter upon the shoulders of a plastic and heroic xolo. Nearby another woman entices a security guard into moving with her as she rocks her hips gently in time with the music. Boom, boom, boom, boom.

The players arrive on the field now. The opposition is introduced. And harassed. They are men in anatomy only.

No one is seated.

Quickly the boys of Tijuana press their advantage, imposing themselves on the striped shirts from Monterrey. Despite their initial miscues and confused runs, the Xoloitzcuntles overwhelm their opponents in the midfield. Challenges for the ball are sloppy. But won.

Ruiz streaks down the right unmarked, unabated. Unseen by Riascos and the attack must start over. But they are moving the ball. Possessing the field. The crowd roars its approval.

For 90 minutes members of La Masakr3 sing, willing their team to victory.

Again a hard challenge is won and the ball is sent up the field. La Masacre waits. Anticipates. Everyone behind the goal stands on their seats relentlessly singing and willing the ball toward them.

Riascos finds it. Makes contact with it. Strikes the ball with the force of a small blast and watches it move in a straight line at the top of the crossbar. And over. And into the stands.

But the people love it and their singing grows louder and their commitment deepens.

It is their evening. They and their team belong here tonight. Destiny has escorted them to this stage, two rounds removed from the championship match.

Outside the stadium they listen and linger.


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