Drums, vuvuzelas, wooden matracas and trumpets belted out a steady buzz Thursday night at Chukchansi Park, as a pumped-up crowd of 13,013 watched Mexican soccer teams Club America and Monarcas Morelia go head to head in an exhibition.
Firecrackers and smoke bombs filled the sky above the stadium, periodic vibrant pops of each team's colors as diehards from America's fan clubs "L.A. Muno" and "Ritual de Kaos," and Morelia's "Locura 81" from the Bay Area managed to sneak them through the gates.
Many arrived clad in America's yellow and blue or Morelia's red and gold. But for some, it was about more than watching two top-tier Mexican teams — the second half of a doubleheader that also featured the hometown Fuego.
It also was a way to escape the heartbreak that was Mexico's World Cup exit Sunday.
Hundreds of fans sported El Tri jerseys, flags and hats.
Jose Ramirez and his family, all from Fresno, held up posters that together read "No era penal," or "it wasn't a penalty," calling out Arjen Robben's flop that led to the winning penalty in Mexico's 2-1 loss to the Netherlands.
"We want the whole world to know that it was the wrong call," said Ramirez, celebrating his 44th birthday. "That the better team wasn't the one that won."
For sisters Elizabeth, 23 and Karen Rodriguez, 15, the statement rang true as they also both still felt the heartbreak of defeat.
"We're hoping the game picks up our spirits up a bit," Karen said. "We've loved watching the Cup and we're here to catch some more excitement."
Exhibitions featuring Mexican club teams generally are played once or twice a year at the downtown Fresno stadium.
Thursday's was a first for Santos Camacho, 33 of Kerman, who has caught "World Cup fever."
"I don't like either team. I'm just here to watch some good soccer," he said. "I've watched the World Cup as much as I can, almost every game, even when I'm at work."
For Margarita Avila, it was the chance to bring her two children, Eduardo and Juliana, to their first professional match.
They, along with Avila's husband Juan Alcala, made the 40-minute drive from Armona.
"It's a unique experience," she said. "It's not every day we can watch these teams play so close. And with the World Cup, it only adds to our excitement."
Monarcas and America staged a thriller, playing to a scoreless, yet physical, first half.
Fans jeered and whistled at fouls, near misses and slide tackles, eagerly awaiting a goal.
Tensions ran high in the second half as Morelia's Duvier Riascos was red-carded after arguing a foul call in the 72nd minute.
America took advantage playing a man-up, as Luis Gabriel Rey headed in a shot on the receiving end of a corner kick in the 76th minute. In the 85th, America made it 2-0 on a penalty from Martin Zuniga, and that held for the final result.
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