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Game Faces

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Soccer fans across Orange County arose early and eagerly to watch Mexico take on Germany in Monday’s crucial World Cup game.

But for Mexico’s fans, their exuberance turned to disappointment as a determined German team rallied to tie and then take the lead late in the game, ending Mexico’s aspirations of advancing to the quarterfinals in France.

“I thought we would take it all the way,” said Gonzalo Tapia, a Santa Ana resident who watched the game at Los Panchos restaurant on Broadway. “But things were turned around in this game. In previous matches, Mexico started out weak and came from behind to win it. [Monday], they took the lead first, but Germany came back and took the game away.”

Blanca Villareal, another fan from Santa Ana, was subdued as she finished her breakfast.

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“It’s always sad when our team loses,” she said. “We are passionate about the game, but even when they lose, we remain loyal. We are still proud of them.”

The match, which ended with Germany winning 2-1, was punctuated with some dazzling footwork by the Mexican team, which scored once but then blew a chance to put the game away. Germany came back aggressively in the second half and broke down Mexico’s defense with accurate passing deep in Mexico’s territory. Waitresses stopped mid-stride to catch the action on television, and customers groaned and covered their faces in frustration as Germany overtook Mexico.

When the game was over, they sat silently, shaking their heads and shrugging their shoulders.

“Well, it was a great game,” Tapia said.

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Meanwhile, at Anaheim’s Phoenix Club, 130 revelers cheered for Germany.

“It was very exciting. There was lots of yelling and celebrating, naturally,” said Erwin Simons, general manager of the German American social club. “We usually open at 11 a.m., but on special occasions like this, we open early. It was a tight game, no?”

In Santa Ana, police were on alert in case joyous celebration or devastating disappointment should turn into a disturbance, but the streets were quiet. The game began at 7:30 a.m., and when it ended about two hours later, most shops were still closed and restaurants all but empty along 4th Street.

“We had about 40 officers ready to go out and monitor Main Street in case anyone ran out in the streets and created a dangerous situation, but nothing materialized, so the officers weren’t called out,” said Santa Ana Police Sgt. Steve Despenas. “It was a quiet morning.”

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Authorities were concerned about violence breaking out as it did in Huntington Park last week after Mexico’s unexpected comeback against the Netherlands, when the team tied the game at 2-2. The spontaneous celebration in the streets of the Los Angeles suburb was marred by 31 arrests and several clashes with police. And on Monday, police were out in force again making more arrests for refusing to disperse.

Zeke Hernandez, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens’ Santa Ana chapter, said there was nothing antagonizing about the police presence in Santa Ana.

“They were taking precautions. They were just there to observe and make sure there were no problems with traffic and that everything went smoothly,” Hernandez said.

And things were peaceful in Santa Ana, with a just a few drivers and their passengers traveling up and down 4th Street, waving flags and honking horns.

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“They’re still our team. They played very well,” said one fan as he drove by.


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