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Mexico fans band together after World Cup loss

SoccerFIFA World CupAeromexico
Huntington Park police made no arrests after Mexico's 2-1 World Cup loss Sunday
Mexico's fans react after World Cup loss to the Netherlands on Sunday

Whatever the outcome, Huntington Park police were ready.

They closed a three-block stretch of Pacific Boulevard. They put extra patrols on the street, including officers on horseback. Emergency response teams throughout the county were placed on alert.

And for a brief moment after Mexico's 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in Sunday's World Cup soccer match in Brazil, it looked like there could be a repeat of the unruly behavior that erupted on the city's streets after Mexico's victory against Croatia on June 23. That incident resulted in several arrests.

This time, hundreds of soccer fans gathered on and around Pacific Avenue about 11 a.m. after the disappointing loss, waving Mexican flags, honking horns and chanting for their team. Police in riot gear stood down one boisterous group gathered at the corner of Florence Avenue. Another band of revelers shook a passing car; others jumped on a flatbed truck.

But there were no arrests, and by 2 p.m. the crowd had dispersed.

"I'm saddened by the loss," said Armando Durante, 30, who along with dozens of others chose to watch the game at the Plaza Mexico shopping center in neighboring Lynwood that also has a large Latino population. "But that's futbol. We had it and then lost in the last 90 [seconds] of the game."

Unlike for previous games, there was no jumbo television screen set up in the plaza. Security officials said crowd control became a safety issue after last Monday's game between Mexico and Croatia.

Instead, fans gathered around small televisions placed outside several restaurants. Eva Ortega, 45, of South Los Angeles brought her family out to cheer on the Mexican team.

"We were thinking of heading home" because there was no large screen, she said, "but the ambience is here."

In Mexico, a few fights broke out in the central square of Mexico City, but there were no serious injuries. Hundreds of fans showed up at the capital city's Angel of Independence monument — a "sad celebration," the Reforma newspaper called it — singing in support of El Tri, which had earned broad praise for its gritty play, and particularly that of goalkeeper Guillermo "Memo" Ochoa.

The team's coach, Miguel Herrera, whose nickname is "El Piojo" or the flea, lamented the loss, telling reporters that the team wasted an opportunity to beat its maldicion (curse) of not being able to get past the round of 16 in the World Cup.

"We gifted an opportunity to a team that hadn't been able to do anything," Herrera said

On Twitter, many Mexican fans played with the surname of Arjen Robben, the Dutch player who either flopped or was fouled in the penalty box to allow the Netherlands a penalty shot it converted to take the lead. In Spanish, "Robben" is similar to the word for steal.

Airlines also took to Twitter after the game. Dutch carrier KLM posted a tweet with a sign for departures that said, "Adios Amigos!"

Later, Mexican air carrier Aeromexico posted a tweet with an arrival sign: "Thanks for this great World Cup. We're proud and we're waiting for you back home. #VivaMexico."

Ruben.vives@latimes.com

Hector.becerra@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATvivesi and @hbecerraLATimes

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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