Juarez cheers Cinderella Soccer TeamPosted: Updated:
The Indios won Sunday's game 3-1 against Pachuca, a team that had been invincible. But the Juarez team's month long miracle run ended because the Tuzos had a final 4-3 overall series victory (adding up the two matches.) The Indios needed a 3 goal lead to make it to the finals.
But these underdogs can hold their heads high. The "Indios" stunned Mexico by making it into playoffs and then semifinals of the Mexican Primera tournament taking on and beating some of top teams (Chivas, America, Toluca and now Pachuca).
"They were expected to go down back to the minor leagues and they didn't expect them to succeed, fan Victor Quintana told me. "They were just trying to stay alive." Quintana had just finished getting a tiny Indios image painted on his cheek Quintana crossed the border from El Paso with a group of buddies to attend the sell out game. They gathered outside the stadium early to chant "Go Indios!" with glee.
This is about much more than team spirit. It's been Juarez's saving grace. As drug violence surged and Mexico's President ordered thousands of troops to the border city to restore order, Juarez residents found a sanctuary in soccer. Even when murders peaked -- and most Juarez residents kept to a self-imposed curfew to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, families still crowded the soccer stadium to support the team.
El Pasoan Nancy Ornelas told me, "It's really good. It brings everybody's spirits up with all the violence, you know, and to have something good in the city. It's really good"
She was there with her boyfriend Juarez native Victor Estrada who said he had not missed a game all season.
It was an amazing scene on Thursday night for the home game when the Indios played the first in a two game series against top seed Pachuca. The dozens of soldiers posted outside were a grim reminder of the violence, but nothing could dampen spirits as the crowd chanted Indios! Indios ! Indios! A group fans pounded on a giant drum from high in the stands.
There were also mother's bouncing babies and fathers with older children, teens - entire families came to the sold out game. Sitting in the stands cheering on the team with his young son Jorge Jr., Jorge Barousse of Juarez said . We're right here trying to celebrate a little watching the Indios try to win.
Storm clouds gathered over the mountains near the stadium in Juarez during the last home game of the season. But it never rained. The wind whipped a banner wildly at times. It read "Todo es possible," Anything is possible. And thanks to their amazing season, the Indios helped this border city once again -- believe.