There was some yellow in a sea of red, white and green. And even Charlotte FC blue. As the men’s soccer teams of Mexico and Ecuador faced each other in Bank of America Stadium, flags and clothing representing both countries filled the stadium that will soon be home to Major League Soccer. Oscar Robles said that Wednesday’s match was “like once in a life time”. He had Mexico’s flag draped across his shoulders. Robles, 23, was there with his sister Rubi Robles (24), as well as their father, an Ecuadorian, and their mother, a Mexican. They said that the match was very special because of this. It was a rare chance to see both teams face off in Charlotte. Rubi wore Ecuadori’s flag on her face.
The family was one of the 39,887 people who attended the #MexTour late-night game that ended with a 3-2 victory for Ecuador. After previous stops in Los Angeles, Nashville and Atlanta, this was Mexico’s fifth U.S. stop before a World Cup Qualifying match against America in November. Despite the friendly nature of this latest event, both teams played a little over 90 minutes of high intensity soccer in front of a large fan base.
Janner Corozo, Ecuador’s midfielder, rolled a shot at the far post after Ecuador had scored one goal in the first five minutes. Osvaldo Rodrigo from Mexico later scored the goal from the box. Ecuador’s offense, however, was explosive. Walter Chala scored the last goal of the evening for La Tri. The match was attended by many supporters, some dressed up. It felt like everyone cheered in an atmosphere that exuded excitement and energy for soccer in the city. The game was not the only one in Charlotte that Mexico’s national soccer team played. This is what usually draws a crowd. Will they continue to turn out for MLS soccer matches in the city? Rubi stated, “There’s an up-and-coming (team).” “I saw it in an email about this game.”
Others, many of them speaking only Spanish, shared similar knowledge about Charlotte FC. They had a general awareness and a slight interest in the club, which is set to begin competition in 2022. Charlotte FC wants to increase its Hispanic fanbase before kickoff. The MexTour match was an opportunity to promote Charlotte FC to a packed crowd of Mexican supporters.
Roberto Paredes (39), said, “We are soccer fans and I have my season tickets already, so we’re really excited.” “I can’t WAIT!” Paredes, a Peruvian husband and wife, said that he has lived in North Carolina for over 20 years. Paredes, unlike most people in attendance, wore a Charlotte FC baseball hat. Paredes stated, “I used to play Panthers and Hornets but now that soccer has arrived, I can’t wait.” “I’m telling,” Charlotte FC has set ambitious attendance goals for its inaugural season. It aims to host at most 74,000 fans at one match and consistently fill the stadium’s lower bowl, which equates to around 30,000 at home games. The atmosphere at MLS games will be different with fans dressed in their team’s blues and blacks and digital signage being used on broadcasts. Renovations to soccer-specific stadiums include a new tunnel in the center for player entry and new signage.
Locker rooms are also expected to be finished by that time.
The team currently has eight players, with two being from South America. Jordy alcivar, a 22-year old central midfielder for Charlotte FC, was added to the team’s roster recently. Alcivar, a Manta, Ecuadorian midfielder, was considered a possible call-up for Wednesday’s national team match. However, Gustavo Alfaro, head coach, stated that Alcivar could not be called up due to technical issues. Alcivar was not present, but Guzman Corujo, a Charlotte FC defender, was there from Rodriguez, Uruguay, even though he did not suit up. Corujo arrived in Charlotte in the last few days to prepare for Charlotte FC’s inaugural campaign. He was similar to Miguel Angel Ramirez (a Spanish coach who previously coached Ecuadorian team Independiente del Valle).
Sergio Ruiz, Charlotte FC’s central midfielder, is also Spanish. However, so far, no Central American player has been signed to this team. A Mexican player could attract new fans, according to some who were there for Wednesday’s match. Some others said they are content to just watch the games because Major League Soccer will finally be played at Bank of America Stadium.