Friday, February 19, 2010

El Poderoso de la Montaña

"With a name like that, how can you lose?" proclaimed my buddy Dryan, in refrence to the alias of Deporte Independiente Medellín's soccer team (DIM): "The Mighty Mountain." Being that the owner of Casa del Sol is a DIM fan, when he takes us to games, we sit in the fan section, called the "hincha." The hincha is more than just the a place for the fanaticos, it's an organism.

When the opposing team comes downfield, the hincha is filled with jeers and whistles. When the opposing team has to kick from one of the corners, the hincha hurls water bottles and toilet paper over the fence at the player, only to be blocked by policemen holding their riot shields. Drums bang, trumpets sound, the center of the hincha is in constant song throughout the entire game. And speaking of songs, there are at least 15 different canciones that pump up the fanaticos de la norte. My favorites involve jeers towards the opposing team which were particularly barbed during the Antioquian Clasico against city rivals Nacional: "Todos antioqueños hijos de la tierra, los p*tos de verde son de Bogota" (all Antioqueños are children of the earth, the $#$% in green are from Bogota). Destiny would only pit two city rivals of Red and Green and North and South against each other. Nacional used to be good and has more overall champioships,  however, DIM won the championship in Colombia only a couple months ago.

For me, the Clasico was much more about the crowd and the spectacle, rather than the game. DIM scored 3 minutes into the game, which is pretty rare for soccer. Nacional came back to even the score just before halftime, but DIM scored with 15 minutes left to win the 261st Clasico between the two. Observing the crowd was just as interesting for me, some fans climbed up on top of the backstop, a few were taken away for rowdy behavior and of all the people waving flags from other countries, a colombiano who happened to be waving the old stars and stripes was right in front of me
Though no riots or gas came after the game, as is frequently common with Clasicos in Argentina, the police did a pretty good job of separating the North and South sides with barricades to prevent any potential conflict. The game I saw last night, I paid much more attention to the gameplay. Cali was the opponent, and IMO, a much tougher opponent that Nacional. The first half was frustrating for many in the hincha as there were several shots on goal, but none made in the first 45. Much of this has to do with Aldo Bobadilla, DIM 's best player and consequently, the goalie. "El Paraguayo," is a pretty entertaining player to watch and you can check out some of his highlights here. As good as he is, he gave up a tough shot with 60 minutes into the game, at which point, you could see the fatigue and frustration on the side of DIM.

This is where the Poderoso de la Montaña finally found their rhythm, after several miscommunications on their offensive end. With 15 minutes left in the game, the hincha began to chant:"Vamos vamos poderoso, que esta noche, tenemos que ganar!" (let's go Red, because this night, we have to win). Most amazing to me was that the band and hincha sang on, despite bad calls and a near-score by Cali. This chant persisted to lift up the struggling DIM to tie the score with 6 minutes left in the game. The hincha erupted, celebrating, but still preoccupied with making it to extra time. However, during extra time, Cali committed a penalty inside the scoring area meaning that DIM was entitled to a penalty shot. With two players running misdirection, DIM cleverly shot the ball straight down the middle while Cali was off guard, making one of the smartest shots I've seen in soccer. This time the hincha exploded and strangers in red hugged other strangers in red as DIM squeaked out an impressive victory with little time left. The clapping and singing persisted throughout the stadium, led by their Vallenato victory song: (check this out if not for the song, just to see how awesome their coach's hair is)

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