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World Cup: Mexican soccer fans love the U.S. -- for the time being

October 16, 2013|By Kevin Baxter

Imagine a Giants fan saying something nice about a Dodger fan. Or a Yankee rooter complimenting a Red Sox booster.

Now multiply that by about a million and you'll get an idea how rare it was to hear Mexican soccer fans praising -- and thanking -- the U.S. team Tuesday.

But then they had reason to put aside decades of animosity because with two goals in stoppage time, the U.S. beat Panama 3-2 in its final CONCACAF World Cup qualifier, allowing Mexico to stave off elimination in its quest to secure a berth in Brazil next summer.

Entering the day, Mexico needed a win or tie in Costa Rica -- where it hadn't lost in 21 matches -- and the U.S. had to beat or tie with Panama for Mexico to advance to a two-leg playoff against New Zealand for a final World Cup berth.

So when Mexico lost 2-1 and Panama took a 2-1 lead over the U.S. into stoppage time, it wasn't looking good. But the Americans rescued their neighbors to the south by scoring a pair of stoppage-time goals a minute apart.

Mexican TV commentators erupted in cheers at the first U.S. goal by Graham Zusi.

"Gol de Estados Unidos!" one screamed into his microphone before switching to English. "We love you! We love you forever and ever! God bless America!"

(Watch and listen above.)

Aron Johansson then added an insurance goal seconds later and the cheering continued.

Don't expect the lovefest to last long, however. After all, this is a country whose fans whistle and jeer during the U.S. national anthem -- before games in the U.S. Which explains why U.S. Soccer sent out its own sarcastic tweet Tuesday night.

The U.S., Costa Rica and Honduras are the region's automatic qualifiers for Brazil. Mexico, which hasn't missed a World Cup since 1990, must beat New Zealand on aggregate goals in its home-and-home series next month to join them.

A Mexican sports marketing expert has estimated the Mexican soccer federation along with sponsors and businesses affiliated with the Mexican team could lose more than $600 million if Mexico fails to go to Brazil.

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