“Imaginemonos cosas chingonas!”
Let’s imagine bad-ass things, a frustrated Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez replied to an incredulous interviewer who had just asked the striker before the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup if he really believed the Mexican national team could win the tournament. Weeks later, on June 17, Hernandez would provide the assist to Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, whose lone goal in the 35th minute of play would give El Tri a stunning 1-0 victory over reigning world champion Germany in their opening match of group play.
Mexico would eventually flame out of the tournament, losing to Brazil in the first round of the knockout phase, marking the squad’s seventh consecutive exit at that stage of the tournament. But for players and fans, the Germany match is one they will never forget.
“This was the best victory in a World Cup for Mexico, playing against the world champion,” Rafael Marquez, a longtime staple of the national team, said moments after the match.
Two years later, Wiso Vazquez still remembers what it was like being in the stands of Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. Vazquez, 38, is a multicultural marketing director in Phoenix and founder of Fut Mex Nation, a site that focuses on Mexican soccer.
“My body somehow reacted to the goal without my brain really processing,” Vazquez told The Times.”Then when it finally registered, I jumped out of my seat and fell [on the] people in front of me, spilling their drinks. No one cared because of what happened.”
For Edgar Navarro, a 41-year-old senior human resources manager from Los Angeles who traveled with college friends to Russia for his first World Cup, it was the crowds that stood out.
“I had heard stories about Mexico fans being in Moscow for the game,” he recounted. “It wasn’t until I walked into the stadium that I realized that 70% or 80% of the people there were for Mexico.
“The team fed off of that energy.”
In Los Angeles, where the Mexican national team enjoys overwhelming support, fans rejoiced at watch parties held throughout the region.
“So many things came together perfectly that day,” recalls Ivan Fernández, a 38-year-old freelance journalist and member of the L.A.-based supporter group Pasión 1927, which organized an event at the now-defunct downtown restaurant Don Chente. “There were fans dancing on tables, everyone singing and cheering together, total strangers high-fiving and hugging each other.”
Fernández noted that the match coincided with Father’s Day that year.
“There were families celebrating [with us], including some who’d brought their kids out to their first watch party ever. It was some of the best, most positive energy I’ve ever felt at a watch party.”´
On the two-year anniversary of Mexico beating Germany in the World Cup, here is the LA Times sports cover. Proud that we used a headline in Spanish pic.twitter.com/JQI8ij7b6b
— Angel Rodriguez (@ajrod) June 17, 2020
Those who want to relive this match are in luck. In April, FIFA uploaded the entire match on YouTube as part of its #WorldCupAtHome campaign.