Mexico is the darling of the World Cup, but can it win?

Published 6:11 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2018

I had a funny feeling Germany was going to make that goal.

In stoppage time, tied 1-1 to Sweden, the Germans pulled a cute little trick on a free kick to send the ball straight through a wall of defenders and out of the Swedish goal keeper’s reach, netting it in the top right corner.

I was at a Mexican restaurant filled to the brim with soccer fans, and the place went nuts. Mostly out of anger. But there were a couple guys in there raising the roof for Germany’s now almost certain victory. Maybe they were studying abroad in the U.S. or something.

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It was the do-or-die game of Group F. Germany wasn’t going to let it get away that easily. And so now the 2014 World Cup winners escape by the skin of their teeth and live to see another match, which appears to be Brazil.

But Germany’s near collapse isn’t what everyone is writing home about all the way over there in Russia.

It’s the Cinderella story of the tournament.

It’s our fellow North American country: Mexico.

Germany started the tournament a couple weeks ago matched against the intimidating Germans, who were the pre-tournament favorites to win the whole World Cup. Nobody thought Mexico would survive the first half. But Mexico won the match 1-0, then went on to beat South Korea.

Now Mexico has won Group F and will charge head-on into Switzerland for its first Round of 16 game.

I got to say, this scrappy Mexican team, with their sheer will to win and stout defense, have won me over. I would love to see these guys make a run for it. Mexico’s history with the World Cup is a tragic one. For a country that is so devoted to the sport, it’s only reached the quarterfinals twice (1970, 1986) in 88 years. An upsetting record for its fans.

Since the U.S. couldn’t even qualify for the tournament, I have no problem cheering for a fellow North American team. If they lose, though, I’m not sure who I’ll turn to.