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Jun 14, 2014

Mexico's relief after cagey opening win

I still don't have cable, but I do have two feet.

Yesterday morning, I realized that my best option for watching the Mexico versus Cameroon game was the local bar. On went my Mexico jersey and El Tri scarf as I debated whether I could honestly justify a pint of beer at 9 a.m.

By the way, that was the least excited I had ever been while wearing a Mexico jersey. Maybe it was the cold. Maybe it was because I was half-awake. Mainly, though, it was because deep in my futbol-loving heart I knew the true answer was fear.

Fear that Mexico would lose. Fear that after years of riding an emotional soccer roller-coaster, the national team would be the first squad knocked out of the World Cup. I gradually became excited as the game inched closer but still remained worried and scared. It was an odd sensation, and I distinctly remember my girlfriend asking me if I was talking to myself during various moments before the game.

- Carlisle: Perseverance pays off for El Tri

In a way, I was slightly jealous of her cool and calm demeanor. She was tagging along and was in fact wearing a green jacket for support but it didn't matter to her how Mexico did. I was envious. If Mexico lost 8-0, she would be fine. In fact, she could have still had a fantastic day after watching that loss. She was able to knit and watch the game. Knit! If I had tried that I would have ripped every piece of yarn.

Only four people were at the bar, and I probably looked like a sketchy character with my laptop, notebook and unshaven beard.

It didn't matter at that point. I was there. I was watching the game. Years of worries, borderline breakdowns and anticipation all lead up to that moment. That moment when my nerves reached their peak. The first whistle for Mexico's first World Cup match. Then, soon after, relief.

If you would like a one-word summary of Mexico versus Cameroon for me, it would be "relief." Well, relief after the match.

Although Giovani dos Santos had two disallowed goals, things could have been much worse. Cameroon seemed to have studied the 2013 Mexico tapes and decided to sit back and absorb Mexico's pressure. They utilized the CONCACAF technique used so many times last year, but failed to recognize that Mexico has completely revamped the squad since then. Their counterattacks were also horrific, so that too was a godsend for all El Tri fans.

MexicoMexico
CameroonCameroon
1
0
FT
Match 2
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To be honest, Mexico didn't look like a squad that has been playing together for just about a month. It looked like a well-oiled machine. It's not the most impressive machine in the market, but three months ago Miguel Herrera didn't even have all the pieces to it.

Let's also not forget that the match was on Friday the 13th. I'm not even superstitious but I couldn't help thinking of the date every time Mexico missed an opportunity or was given a bad call by the referee.

Given the qualifying run, coaching changes, Carlos Vela drama and anything in between, I'm relieved. I can't say I'm happy. I am to an extent, but I'm mostly reassured knowing that Mexico didn't crash and burn during its first game of the World Cup.

It was also beautiful to see the squad fight back. Last year two disallowed goals would have left Jose Manuel de la Torre confused and the squad unmotivated.

I'm not sure what has brought about this newfound energy and inspiration but it's very apparent on the pitch. Perhaps 2013 was a much-needed wake-up call for Mexico. Perhaps Miguel Herrera is the emotional catalyst the team has been looking for. Maybe it's all a variable of everything coming together, but something has once again awoken this talented Mexican squad.

Going back to the idea of Friday the 13th, the bad luck has actually fallen upon me, not Mexico. As mentioned before, I'm waiting for cable to be installed for the first time in my apartment, and I have had trouble with my Wi-Fi at home. Local bars and restaurants have become my office, which is somehow bittersweet.

It's now 1 a.m. here in California and I'm stuck in a rowdy and raucous restaurant filled with drunk clientele. I'm only here for the Wi-Fi, and maybe a beer or two. As I sit here and think about Mexico's immensely important game against Brazil, I can't help somehow feeling calm after the earlier match against Cameroon. I just hope that Mexico feels the same.