We were part of the raucous record crowd of 70,080 that was in attendance at last night's Herbalife World Football Challenge soccer match between FC Barcelona and Chivas Guadalajara at Sun Life Stadium. And holy assballs was the place one gargantuan soccer party complete with trumpets, fireworks, and fans yelling expletives at the players of both clubs in Spanish! A lot of the mayhem was fueled by alcohol, but most of it was brought on by the sheer excitement of the world's greatest fútbol team playing in our very own backyard. Then the world's greatest fútbol team went and got their asses dented, Mexican style.
But it was still a kickass match that featured a David Villa goal set up by Shakira's boyfriend, and two spectacular SportsCenter highlight reel goals scored by Chivas' Marco Fabian.
It was the kind of crowd you'd normally see at a Dolphins game, except livelier because there were actual points scored here. A massive throng of Barca's iconic blue and maroon striped jerseys clogged the Sun Life stadium rafters with a mere scant number of red candy striped Chivas jerseys dotting the seats here and there.
Barca's patented laser precision passing game was in full effect throughout the match, moving the crowd to shout "Ole!" in unison after every pass. And even without uber-star Lionel Messi -- who is apparently on vacation -- Barca still put on a fantastic show, until the muggy Miami air started getting the better of them, and the club began subbing guys like Villa and Xavi out of the match. That South Florida humidity is a menace!
For those unschooled, FC Barcelona is basically the Miami Heat of soccer (except they actually win championships). It's a team filled with super stars, a team that is flash and fury and dangerous. A team that is either beloved or hated. But they draw (largest crowd to watch a soccer game in Miami ever). And they are always expected to come in and crotch-bust the competition into submission.
But Chivas decided they had other plans by winning the crap out of this game with an onslaught of second half goals.
If you blinked (or arrived late along with about 25,000 other people), you missed Barcelona's one and only goal of the match when Villa made a gorgeous move off a pin point pass from Gerard Pique. Villa got past Chivas' keeper, and finished things off by putting the ball between the pipes in the third minute. Barcelona had plenty of opportunities to put the game away from that point on, but missed a couple of open chances towards the end of the first half. This would prove to be unfortunate for the Spaniards.
When the second half came, Barca began subbing out some of their most notable starters such as Villa, Pique and Xavi. The underdog Mexican club took full advantage by using their speed and aggressiveness, giving the small pockets of Chivas fans plenty of reasons to cheer and sing and wave Mexican flags in their Barcelona fan neighbor's face.
The game's equalizer came in the 60th minute when Fabian's 25-foot rocket pierced the thick humid air and blasted into the top left corner of the Barcelona net. It was a monstrous shot that stunned Barca, and the crowd, and announced that Chivas was not here to fuck around.
Just three minutes later, Chivas' Omar Arellano took a pass and put on a burst of speed that left the Barcelona defense reeling. With the crowd anticipating a shot, Arellano instead sent a cross rocketing towards the opposite post where a waiting Fabian met the pass with a spectacular scissor-kick shot that thundered off his foot and into the back of Barca's net (see video below). The entire building shook in awe at the astonishing strike. It was pure spectacle, and sound and fury and awesomeness all rolled into one.
Chivas would go on to add two more goals, to make it a 4-1 final.
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This match was more than soccer. It was an event. And while the majority of the fans left disappointed with the final score, there's no doubting that Miami's seemingly colossal soccer loving thirst was quenched, at least for one evening.
Here's to hoping we get to see some Messi magic the next time around.