PALMETTO — Maria Sanchez, owner of El Molcajetes Mexican Restaurant in Palmetto, had plenty of icy cold beverages stocked up for Sunday’s World Cup game between Mexico and Argentina.
But the large crowd that packed the restaurant for the 2:30 p.m. televised opening of the match dissipated by halftime to just one loyal fan, 25-year-old Jaime Garza of Palmetto.
That’s because Mexico quickly fell behind 2-0 in a sport where making up one goal is tough enough.
“We gave up a header and a short run past our goalie and it’s done,” Garza said.
“They all got frustrated and went home after Mexico gave up those two early goals,” floor manager Jaime Rodriguez said.
It was the same situation in other locales around the area where fans of Mexico’s soccer team soon retreated from public view after coming out to celebrate together.
At El Durango’s Mexican Restaurant in Palmetto, the precious seats in front of the TV were open by halftime with the game already one-sided.
“I am disappointed,” said restaurant employee Brenda Martinez, who wore a green team Mexico jersey for the occasion.
Martinez had one happy moment, when Javier Hernandez blasted a goal into the upper reaches of the Argentina’s net at the 71st minute, making the score 3-1.
But even that was cause from some sarcasm.
“Three more and we win!” said cook Reno Martinez, drawing boos from his fellow workers.
Mexico played hard and frantic soccer for the next 10 minutes, but couldn’t score again.
“I don’t know why we couldn’t have played that way the whole game,” Martinez said. Mexico ended up falling to Argentina 3-1 to be eliminated from the World Cup. Argentina moves on to a quarterfinal match against Germany.
The loss was especially hard to take because it appeared an Argentine player was offside when headed in a pass 26 minutes into the game. Just seven minutes later, Argentina scored again for a 2-0 lead before halftime.
“The first goal, OK, we thought maybe they will come back,” Jaime Rodriguez said. “But after the second one, no. It is very difficult in soccer to come back from two goals down.”
Rodriguez, a student of the game, said that Argentina seemed sharper than Mexico on this day.
“Argentina took time with its passes and its shots were accurate,” Rodriguez said. “Mexico appeared a little too desperate. They needed to calm down.”
Over at Alvarez’s restaurant in Palmetto, server Stephanie Gonzalez was calling home every few minutes to get updates from her husband, Christian, since Alvarez’s didn’t have a TV.
“I feel badly for my husband and his family because they are huge fans from Mexico and this is very tough,” Gonzalez said.
Brenda Martinez’ sister, Cely, was watching the match at home and Brenda was worried about the fate of her sister’s TV set.
“She’s probably mad and cursing it,” Martinez said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.