Canada – Mexico

16 10 2008

I’m on a little vacation, spending about 5 days in Edmonton visiting friends and family. I know what you’re thinking – Edmonton, a vacation destination? Well, it may not be known as a culinary hotspot (or any type of hotspot at this time of year) but I’ve already had the best nachos at my favourite Mexican restaurant (Julio’s Barrio), the best Thai restaurants I’ve ever been to (Viphalay – and that’s saying a lot because Vancouver has some great ones), and some great dim sum this afternoon (I’m getting more and more accustomed to the stuff). Tomorrow I’m going for hot pot, Saturday is likely to be a steakhouse with my pops, and Sunday is shaping up to be some tummy Indian food. If thats not enough, i have to stop at Bad Ass Jacks before flying home for the absolute best wraps (one for me and one to bring back for my wife. Yes they’re that good, even cold). When not drilling for oil, Edmontonians make great food. Who knew I’d find a world of cuisine in northern Alberta?

The timing was perfect for this little excursion. Having just won the title, it’s nice to step away from the office for a bit, before an offseason of budgeting, researching and planning is underway. But yesterday also marked Canada’s latest World Cup qualifying match, against Mexico at Commonwealth Stadium. And although they have underwhelmed in many of their matches, they did play hard in Mexico a few weeks ago and I expected a prideful Canuck side to put on a good show.

Walking into the stadium, I was shocked to see how many Mexican supporters were there. It probably wasn’t an 80/20 Mexico/Canada fan split, but with all red, green & white flags, costumes, and face paint, it sure felt that way. I later learned that there are indeed a lot of Mexicans in Alberta as some type of labour outreach program, so good on them for supporting their homeland so vividly.

At the beginning of the game the Mexican fans drowned out the Canadian, but as the first half drew on, the Canadian side seemed to draw inspiration from it. A game that was all Mexico in terms of possession saw Canada strike first. Our guys were still hanging on throughout the first half and entered the break tied at one. The second half was much more balanced and wildly entertaining as both sides had their chances. Again Canada scored early and Mexico fought back to tie. I was in line ordering a beer when Canada’s second goal was scored (hey, I’m on vacation!) so I only caught the replay. But the Mexico fan behind, dressed as a self-described ‘red grasshopper super hero’ was convinced it was because he wasn’t back in the stands.

The final result did little in changing the fortunes of either side – let’s face it, Canada is not heading to South Africa while Mexico can start looking into hotel reservations – but both sides played hard and ultimately left their fans entertained and proud. Given Canada’s recent (or is it longstanding?) turmoil on the national team front, I suppose that is all we can ask of them at this point.

Two other highlights for me: the chant that Mexico fans made everytime keeper Lars Hirschfeld attempted a goal kick (I don’t know what they say but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my first guess, ‘Menudo!’); and seeing Charles Gbeke get in the game. What a week it’s been for Charles and it was nice to hear fans acknowledge his contribution to the Whitecaps title, as they gave him a particularly loud applause.

Audio and photos are below. I’m off to heat up some leftover Thai.

http://media.cellspin.net/user/d8633cbf8c/media/32969

It kinda sounds like Menudo!?!?

Decent turnout for a brisk autumn night in Edmonton

The Mexico fans were in full force

Red grasshopper superhero man!

Remnants from dim sum this afternoon.  I should put the camera away now.

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