Donald Trump’s election and incendiary rhetoric about Mexicans cast a shadow over Friday’s game, but a win for El Tri in the World Cup qualifier restored optimism.
Mexico captain Rafael Marquez hopes his last-gasp winner against the United States will help to lift his compatriots at a “time of intolerance”.
Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Columbus was played out against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential elections.
The controversial Republican candidate used incendiary rhetoric against Mexican immigrants to the United States during his campaign, pledging to build a wall across the 2,000 mile border separating the countries at the Latin American nation’s expense and accusing Mexicans entering the US of “bringing drugs, bringing crime… their rapists”.
Veteran defender Marquez was on hand to glance home an 89th-minute corner from Miguel Layun, whose 20th-minute opener was cancelled out by Bobby Wood early in the second half, as Mexico handed the USA a first ever defeat at Mapfre Stadium, and the match-winner acknowledged it was a victory that would resonate beyond football.
“Maybe now there [has been] a bad time,” Marquez said. “I don’t know about bad time, but a time of intolerance.
“But now, with this win [Mexicans] can forget a little bit about what happened here in the United States.”
Mexico lost 2-0 in Columbus during each of the past four qualifying campaigns, prompting the mocking “dos a cero” chant from US fans.
“As one of our assistants said well, we’re not trying to change the history, because it’s impossible to change it, but we’re trying to make our own history,” he said.
“In this match, we showed that we have the mental fortitude to compete anywhere, that the team is able to overcome adversity, that it’s capable of winning games in the last minute like many good national teams do on the international level.”
Marquez added: “It was the best opportunity to change this story. It was what we were thinking about the last couple of days.
“There were a lot of times we didn’t have a good game here and right now we are very happy. It is very important for us.”