Citi Field was transformed last night in to an international arena as fans of Mexican side Club America gathered along with supporters of Italian giants Juventus as this summer’s World Football Challenge hit New York. With an announced attendance of 20,859, exuberant fans of both teams were vocal and colorful with the stands awash with the yellow jerseys of Club America and the black and white stripes of Juventus.
The first half action was pretty even with the best chance on goal coming from Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero who sailed a shot just over the goal in the 24th minute.
In an event rarely seen in soccer, play had to be stopped in the 31stminute as heavy rain mixed with lightning brought about dangerous conditions for both players and fans. Despite a 37 minute delay in the action, the crowd stuck around and continued to make noise as the familiar sound of vuvuzelas filled the air.
The only goal of the game came soon after play resumed. While making a save, Club America goalkeeper Armando Navarrete, inadvertently punched the ball in to the path of Juventus forward Cristian Pasquato who scored an unassisted goal with a shot in to the top right corner of the net.
Club America outshot Juventus 13-9 with longtime Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon keeping a clean sheet.
For brother and sister Sergio and Lillian Cabrales and their friend Enrique Guerra of Elizabeth, New Jersey, seeing Club America live in New York was special. “This is awesome”, said Lillian. “It’s the first time they’ve been in our area; they’re always on the west coast.”
Born in Mexico, Sergio explained “when we were little our uncle always brought us to games and we still keep up with the team today.”
Friends Victor Todaro of Mount Sinai and Tony Mussumeci of St. James were part of a group of eight clad in Juventus gear and predicting a 3-0 victory for the Italian side. Originally from Catania in Sicily, Todaro said he was excited when he heard that Juventus was coming to Citi Field. “My six year old son Giussepe plays football and I wanted him to see them play.”
Teresa Morales of New Rochelle was amongst a group displaying a Club America banner. “Since I was a little kid I have followed the team as my dad is originally from Mexico”, she stated.
Then there were those who were there just for the love of the game. Lennie Lopez of Queens was joined by his friend and their two sons. In addition to the game at Citi Field, the group had seen Manchester United in Foxborough versus the New England Revolution and Real Madrid at the Philadelphia Union. Lopez simply stated, “We are here because we want to see the best teams in the world.”