Mexican women’s national team rewards fans
Mexico caps MexTourW with 5-1 victory over Houston Dash
HOUSTON – Mexico is accustomed to playing at home in the Bayou City and throughout the United States. Therefore, the reception for the Mexican women’s national team was not surprising Tuesday night at Shell Energy Stadium.
It was different, though. The intimate crowd of 6,155 included a large percentage of women and girls supporting the Mexican women’s national team against the hometown Houston Dash.
History will show that Mexico routed the Dash 5-1. The MexTourW exhibition cannot be defined by the score or even the action on the field, though. The inaugural MexTourW was more about inspiring young Latinas – especially Mexicans and Mexican Americans – in the United States.
It was about investing in the Mexican women’s national team, which is trying to rebound after failing to qualify for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Olympics. Mexico showed an exciting brand of attacking soccer against a young Dash squad missing two of its best forwards.
Mexican women’s national team aims to be role models
“Obviously it’s very important to have those little girls come out here and see their Mexican national team and then representing Houston,” said Maria Sanchez, the Mexican national team forward who plays for the Dash. “Hopefully being able to get them back out here supporting the Houston Dash, I think to make that connection so that they (know they) have now three Mexicans on the Houston Dash.
“They can come and support and look up to and hopefully (we can) be their role models as Mexican athletes on the Dash.”
Sanchez and fellow Dash forward Diana Ordoñez started the Mexican national team. El Paso native Emily Alvarado, the goalkeeper the Dash acquired this month, was on Mexico’s bench.
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Houston Dynamo captain Hector Herrera, who captained Mexico’s men’s national team, attended the match with his family. He wore a replica of his green national team jersey.
Fans cried out for Herrera’s autograph as the Mexican women’s national team players signed along the railing after the game. Hearing the calls for Herrera, multiple El Tri players rushed to take a selfie with him on the field.
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“Truly, we experienced a very happy atmosphere,” Mexico’s Jacqueline Ovalle said after scoring two goals. “I think the Mexican fan base showed up today. That was of great importance for us to get this result. …
“First of all, it was motivating because we were obviously little girls and we imagined ourselves playing with the professionals. Now that they have the opportunity and we’re opening the path for girls around the world, I think it’s great motivation to have them here supporting us.”
Ovalle gave Mexico the early lead in the ninth minute when she kicked a loose ball into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box. Cameron Tucker tied the score in the 28th minute with perhaps the prettiest golazo of the night.
Tucker maneuvered brilliantly with a run through the left side of Mexico’s defense, cutting into the 18-yard box to deliver a rocket into the far post. Unfortunately for the Dash, Mexico countered with four unanswered goals.
Charlyn Corral scored a minute later. Then Ovalle made it 3-1 in the 38th minute. With a game scheduled for Friday against the Portland Thorns, Dash coach Sam Laity rested some of his key players. He gave six players their first appearances with the club.
The Dash was also shorthanded without its three Mexican national team players. Nonetheless, the result was a victory for those who want to grow women’s soccer, and the Dash and Mexican women’s national team brands.
Laity described the atmosphere as “outstanding.” Although his main focus was on trying to win, he couldn’t ignore the energy.
“We certainly heard the crowd and we could feel the optimism and we could feel the excitement,” he said. “And long may that continue. You could see it, especially for those rooting for the Mexico team.
“At times when some of their players did some creative things they really, really lifted the crowd. I think that was a good thing for our players to experience because if we can bring a little bit of that we can excite the crowd a little bit more.”
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