By Jeff Reuther
The USA South team arrived in Mexico City on Thursday, April 7th, and did a light workout to loosen the joints. On Friday the squad had a two hour moderate session at the pitch. The team chemistry and camaraderie were falling into place nicely.
After a good supper Friday night, the squad met for an inspiring jersey ceremony and meeting.
On Saturday, the match was set for 4pm CST. It was a clear, warm, dry day with a 10-15 mph wind. The field conditions were dry and the altitude was 7000 feet. A good natured, spirited crowd was in attendance.
Both sides entered the field single-filed and simultaneously through the main tunnel. The National Anthems played as the players sized each other up. The first half started at high pace with some back and forth for roughly 5 minutes. After that, the USA South squad dominated possession and territory but missed some opportunities to put some early tries in. USA South went into halftime up 6-0 with two penalty kicks.
In the second half, Mexico evened out the possession and territory as they had control of the wind. The USA South squad lost focus and pattern for a while as they became anxious to put a try in. Mexico then broke the defensive line of the USA South for the first try of the match, but missed the conversion. The reserves came on for the South, but it was not enough as the altitude caught up with the squad around minute 60. Mexico made two penalty kicks in a row to go ahead. USA South valiantly fought back but turned the ball over to Mexico several times, which resulted in quick breaks and tries for Mexico. Final score was 25-9, Mexico.
Team Mexico were marvelous hosts for the tour and after party. USA South played their hearts out until the last minute and represented well.
Coaches Paul Barford, Dave Conyers, and Jody Hensley did an excellent job of preparing the squad with a clear, unified game plan for the match.
Trainer Sean Borman worked tirelessly and did fantastic work.
Kevin Kitto and John Devonport organized an amazing tour.
Captain Shawn O’Brien led the squad decisively and positively.