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USA 2 -- Mexico 1 in the Battle of the Border

April 14, 2012 - Mazatlan, Mexico -- It was the stuff of dreams. It was the stuff of ledgends. Mexico's Team Zorros de Sinaloa scored on its very first shot in its very first game in competition - ever.

Mexico's Mazatlan squad had been training for months but had never played against another team. Coach Berc Zoraian invited the US National Amputee Soccer Team to face his Zorros on the pitch where it counted.

Team Zorros de Sinaloa were new to the sport and inexperienced in competition. The US Team included some very experienced players, but had not had the opportunity to practice together very often. Positives and negatives on both sides of the ball.

The anthems were sung and handshakes exchanged. The match began. Then, at the 9 minute mark, the improbable. In Team Zorros' very first shot on goal in competition, Juan Martin "El Chicharito" Diaz drilled a clean shot past USA Keeper Eric Westover.

The crowd and the sidelines erupted. History had been made. Zorros de Sinaloa scored first blood and were officialy members of the world sport, amputee style.

But Mexico's elation was short lived. Just one minute later USA rookie Nico Calabria headed the ball past Zorros' diminuitive but fearless goalkeeper Joaquin Anaya.

The score was even. The battle was joined.

"It's a fantastic game," said one American fan," much faster than the European game. Much more action. I can't believe how fast these guys are. Or how physical."

One fan quipped "It was great! It sometimes looked like a cross between soccer and demolition derby." Photo © Mike Baum.

With extreme intensity on both sides of the ball, something had to give. At the 20 minute mark seasoned veteran Dan Broome scored the game winner on a free kick.

Dan Broome, the USA's most experienced veteran, scored the game winner. Photo © Carl Calabria.

Stories Behind the Story

On the field drama: Zorros de Sinaloa scored on their very first shot on goal in competition. Team USA's youngest player, and Team USA's most experienced player scored. Hollywood would have turned down the script as too improbable.

But there was drama and heart behind the scenes as well. And every player has a story of power and passion.

For example: Zorros' exuberant midfielder Aaron Hernandez traveled three hours by train every Sunday to practice with the team. "I want to be an example for my children. To see their father and know that you can succeed in life, you can become somebody even if you do not have a leg," he said.

Alejandro Paredes, Zorros' first player, became an amputee after a crash while delivering pizzas. The accident left him bedridden and unable to continue a budding career as a professional boxer. "It (amputee soccer) changed my life," he said. "because Coach Berc Zoraian brought hope to us."


USA rookie Nico Calabria scored on a header at the 10 minute mark, evening the score. Photo © Carl Calabria.



Henry Sunday (19) and Keith Mann (12) navigate through Zorros' defense. Photo © Rick Hofmann.

There were player stories and deep emotion on the American side of the ball as well.

USA Captrain Ignacio "Nacho" Medrano. "I was born in Mexico but my heart is in America." Photo © Rick Hofmann.

Ignacio Medrano was born in Michoacan, Mexico, then moved to the United states with his family when he was a child. A soccer player since he could walk, "Nacho" lost his right leg to cancer when he was 19. Then he discovered the amputee version of the game and has been hooked ever since.

A four-time Amputee Soccer World Cup veteran, Ignacio was named Captain of Team USA in Mazatlan.

It's a role he took very seriously, leading by example and taking care of his team with quiet strength.

"It was a match of mixed emotions," he said, "blood versus heart. I'm Mexican by blood but my heart is and will always be American."

In a match of heart, soul, blood and passion. Both sides ultimately won. Photo © Carl Calabria.

Notes and Appreciation

Sra. Maria Conchita Pena Gonzales, President of Mexican Women in Business, has been named President of the Mexican Amputee Football Association. Photo © Rick Hofmann.

Thanks from Zorros de Sinaloa and Team USA to:

Don Bennett and Carol Keller; Berc and Fabliola Zorian for their monumental contribution to these teams and to this event.

Mazatlan Mayor Sr. Alejandro Higuera & his staff.
Director of DIF Sr. Carlos Lerma & his staff. 
Director of Sports Sr. Victor Barbosa & his staff.
Mexican Amputee Futbol Asscoation - Sra. Maria Conchita Pena Gonzales, President; Sr. Edvin Jonsson, Vice President and his aide Sr. Francisco Mora
Sr. Jose Jimenez, Master of Ceremonies
Sa-Gol Owner and former Professional soccer player Sr. Said Godinez & his staff. (Practice fields)
Sr. Ing.Andres A.Cruz Canto and the owners of the Venados De Mazatlan Professional Baseball Club
Noroeste Newspaper and Sr. Francisco Cuamea Lizarraga Sr. Jose Abraham Sanz & photographer Sr.Luis Brito
Sr. Silber Meza Eme-Equis Magazin & Miss. Zorayda
T.V. Notas & Sr.Aldo Santiago Lopez
Primera Hora Newspaper
Debate Newspaper
T.V. Azteca
T.V. Canal 7
Televisa T.V & Sr. Luis Pavon Vasquez
Hotel Playa Mazatlan
Costa Bonita Resort


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