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Philly sports fans were spoiled for choice Tuesday night, with the Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field, and Citizens Bank Park all hosting games. The city’s transit and parking systems were pushed to their limits to accommodate it.
The Mexico men’s national team took on its German counterpart, in the second match of each side’s U.S. friendly tour during one of world soccer’s international breaks.
In a thrilling 2-2 draw in front of 62,284 fans, the city got a preview of the top-level international soccer that should be on offer during the 2026 World Cup, and some of the transit logistics that will come with hosting it.
While both teams playing in the Linc hailed from lands far from Philly, the atmosphere surrounding the match surpassed the Flyers home opener and rivaled the Phillies obliterating the Diamondbacks in Game 2 of the NLCS.
In the afternoon leading up to the game, waves of people flowed into South Philly’s Sports Complex, mainly wearing the red, white, and powder blue of the Phillies, the orange and black of the Flyers, and the green and red of Mexico.
As fans approached the Linc’s Lot K, Mexico’s colors were in full prevalence, along with a tailgate any Eagles fan would be proud of.
”Everyone has music. Everyone’s cheering, having fun, singing, dancing,” said Juan Toral from Freehold, New Jersey. “During the game, everyone knows what to chant at certain times. Everyone’s friendly with everyone. So it’s a good time.”
Mexican music blasted from speakers at various spots as crowds sang, jumped, and danced near them. At certain crescendos, drinks were sprayed into the air and flairs were lit to everyone’s excitement. People waved Mexican flags, and donned ponchos, sombreros, luchador masks, and traditional dresses. A wide assortment of freshly prepared food and drinks added to the good times.
Sprinkled in among the Mexico tailgate were some Germany fans. Jeffery Knott from Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, joked that being heavily outnumbered was just a little daunting.
“Just a little bit, but it’s great to see them,” he said. “It’s nice to see people enjoying soccer.”
Heike Gels, who traveled from Frankfurt, Germany to see both of Germany’s U.S. games, said she noticed soccer in the U.S. has come a long way since when she was here for the 1994 FIFA World Cup matches in California.
Like probably many Phillies fans who opted for soccer, Leas was going to keep track of the baseball game while also supporting Germany at the Linc.
”I have my ESPN alerts on so I will be watching my Phillies on the phone and Germany in the stands,” she said.
Inside ahead of kickoff, a DJ amped up the crowd and fans were urged to switch their phones on for a light show. The game was delayed 15 minutes after teams got stuck in traffic getting to the stadium, pushing its start to slightly after the first pitch of the Phillies game.
The two sides last faced each other in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, where Mexico stunned the defending world champions with a 1-0 victory, which contributed to Germany’s failure to advance from the tournament’s first stage.
During the national anthems, a small pocket of Germany fans emerged waving flags behind one of the goals. The Mexico national anthem was sung by thousands across the stadium.
The first goal came for Germany, when Antonio Rüdiger scored on a header from the back post in the 25th minute.
Uriel Antuna slotted in Mexico’s equalizer in the 37th minute from a cross by Hirving “Chucky” Lozano — the goalscorer in 2018 — barely moments after Germany veteran Thomas Müller was ruled offside for what briefly seemed like Die Mannschaft’s second of the night.
Two minutes into the second half, Érick Sánchez put El Tri ahead by getting ahead of Germany defender Niklas Süle for a diving header.
In the 51st minute, Germany leveled with the last goal of the night when Mexico goalkeeper and captain Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa’s acrobatic save of Florian Wirtz’s header fell to Niklas Füllkrug to smash in, leaving both sides to settle for a draw.
Throughout the game, the crowd kept the mood lively with chants and cheers for Mexico. A stadium wave went across the stands at various points. After the match, Mexico head coach Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano compared the atmosphere to that of a Super Bowl.
“I think it’s amazing playing here,” Mexico goalkeeper Ochoa told The Philadelphia Inquirer after the game. “We have to play more often here, because the people always get crazy. For us, this support is always important to play in our game.”
Saturdays just got more interesting.