LEVERKUSEN, Germany -- Team Mexico may not have been present on the pitch during its devastating loss to Japan 4-0 on Friday, but the country was well represented on the sidelines.
"I love Germany, there are a lot more people in the stands than when I was here a year ago for U20s," fullback and Stanford University sophomore Alina Garciamendez said. "I never knew how many Mexicans or people who like Mexico were in Germany."
Garciamendez shouldn't be surprised by the support. Germany has the highest Mexican population in Europe, larger even than Spain.
Representing their native country with painted faces and flags draped over their shoulders like capes meant a lot to Lisa and Omar Moncayo, who moved to Burscheid from Mexico City three years ago. "We were very proud when we heard the anthem. It was a very emotional moment for us," Lisa said after the game.
Mexican support was heard loud and clear throughout the match in spite of the disappointing outcome. "There are a lot Mexicans who live in Leverkusen and Wolfsburg because of the car companies. That's why the Latin American games are all scheduled for those stadiums," Omar said on a bus ride back to the train station.
Moncayo, a supplier for Ford, explained that Ford and Volkswagen both employ a lot of Mexican engineers, suppliers and automotive professionals because both companies are assembled in Mexico and they both have headquarters in Germany. Omar also happens to be the first Latin American player since 1911 to play on BV Burscheid, the local football club where they live.
As for his country's loss? "It's better to participate and lose than not to try at all."