Cruz Azul, Tigres fans swarm to Mike A. Myers Stadium
July 18, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- The story Saturday night was obvious. The colors told it.
A female soccer fan sat underneath the July sun at Mike A. Myers Stadium wearing a burnt orange "O Who" shirt with a yellow Tigres bandana. Not very far away, a young boy swirled a Cruz Azul towel over his Texas Longhorns ball cap.
Maybe burnt orange does go with yellow and blue -- that's what the inaugural State Farm Copa Aztex presented by H-E-B showed us.
UT Athletics teamed with the Austin Aztex professional soccer club to bring international soccer to the Forty Acres for the first time, and this year's match, the first in a three-year engagement, pitted Mexico City's Cruz Azul against Tigres of Monterrey.
Despite the summer's grueling heat wave, and the Mexican national team's event in Dallas on Sunday, thousands jammed into Myers Stadium to witness history. Cruz Azul and Tigres share a rivalry in their country like that of Red Sox-Yankees or Cowboys-Redskins.
"This is very relevant," said Dr. Ruben Pizarro-Silva, the Univision sports broadcaster who provided color commentary for the match. "The Hispanic community in Austin doesn't usually have access to see something like this in person."
The fans enthusiastically played the part. Blue and yellow blow horns had the stadium buzzing like an open-air bee hive. When Tigres took the field in their yellow uniforms, a cluster of fans in the north end of the stadium set off balloons and sprayed chunky confetti.
It was homemade, torn up bits of a phonebook -- the Yellow Pages, of course.
As some Texas Soccer student-athletes tossed Longhorns T-shirts into the crowd, they eagerly swallowed them up. But even that was a reminder that Saturday wasn't so much about The University of Texas, but what The University of Texas can do.
"Being at a place like Texas, you have the chance to impact your sport," Texas Soccer coach Chris Petrucelli said. "You get to look outside your own little world for awhile, and impact the game in another way. This was a great experience."
And a historic start for State Farm Copa Aztex. Cruz Azul is one of the Big Four in Mexican soccer, and owns eight championships. Tigres is a building dynasty with one of the most loyal fan bases in the league.
They were well-represented on Saturday, and helped turn the Forty Acres into a spectacle of burnt orange, yellow and blue.
"This is exactly what a university should do," UT Women's Athletics Director Chris Plonsky said. "We have a chance to affect the community in a lot of different ways, and there were probably people here tonight who had never experienced anything on The University of Texas campus before."