Columbus, Ohio - The U.S. men's national soccer team has no fiercer rival than Mexico. But before Friday's World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, players from both sides came together to make a statement of unity.
The unstated context, of course, was the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency earlier in the week. Trump began his campaign last year by making derogatory remarks about Mexicans, and his promise to build a wall between the two countries was a staple of his rhetoric.
On Friday, U.S. and Mexican players built a different wall. After each side had posed for its traditional pre-match team photo, an unusual photo was taken, featuring the on-field antagonists standing alongside one another on the field, putting their arms around each others' shoulders.
During the match, there were few reports of politically motivated chants or signs among the sellout crowd of 24,650 at Mapfre Stadium. Mexico, predictably, was greeted with "Dos a Cero!" from many in the throng, a reference to the 2-0 score lines in each of the four previous World Cup qualifiers played in Columbus over the past 15 years.
A prominent USMNT fan group, the American Outlaws, sent a message before the game about remaining respectful. It tweeted out its code of conduct, one that states, "Racism, discrimination, sexism, homophobia, disrespect, and physical or verbal assault towards fans of other teams have no place in AO" and includes a ban on "disrespectful and/or hateful speech online and offline."
Mexico went on to win, 2-1. After the game, El Tri's Oribe Peralta apparently posted, then deleted, a tweet with the message, "No hay muro que nos detenga" - "There is no wall that can stop us."
The most meaningful posing, however, had taken place before the match, with a compelling statement of mutual support and respect by the soccer players representing the two countries.Original article by Des Bieler, who writes for the Early Lead and the D.C. Sports Bog, scouring the Web to bring readers items of interest, both serious and amusing. He also covers fantasy football, as well as fitness topics for the MisFits. Follow @DesBieler