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Atlas outlasts Chivas on a night many fans won’t forget

July 6, 2017 GMT

After losing in to Chivas Guadalajara in the quarterfinals of Liga MX’s playoff in May, Club Atlas got a small bit of revenge Wednesday at Toyota Field.

Atlas defeated its archrival 2-0 in a friendly in front of a crowd covered in Chivas’ red and white.

More than 8,000 fans watched the two Guadalajara clubs separated by nine miles go at it. For some fans, it was their first chance to see the club they’ve loved since they were children.

“Heck yeah, it’s a big deal for me,” said Alejandro Cabrales, who came down from Austin to see his beloved Chivas play live for the first time Wednesday. “I used to live in Florida, and they never really went over there. Now that I moved to Texas, it’s my first time seeing them.”

David Najer traveled from Laredo to see Atlas play for the first time. Born into an ardent Atlas family, Najer has been a supporter since birth.

For him, the feeling of finally seeing his team play live was difficult to put into words.

“I’ve waited so long. Too long,” he said. “I can’t explain it, but it’s very good.”

Najer’s club gave him a match he won’t forget, starting it off with a strike about 25 yards out from Edson Rivera that found the back of the net in the 15th minute.

From there, Atlas held its ground, grinding out a clean sheet and securing the win in the 71st minute with a perfect penalty kick from Matías Alustiza that gently nestled into the goal’s bottom right corner.

But the game wasn’t just for Chivas and Atlas fans. Some simply enjoyed seeing Mexican teams north of the border.

Jasiel Mora, a Club León fan, came to the game without an allegiance. He moved to San Antonio from Mexico three months ago, and getting to relive the soccer atmosphere from home was a treat.

“(It’s fantastic) to be able to see Mexican teams,” he said. “Atlas and Chivas are the most important teams from Guadalajara. It’s really nice to feel the rivalry.”

Some tension in the crowd was noticeable despite Chivas fans making up at least 90 percent of the audience. On the southeast side of the stadium that the flag-waving, drum-beating Chivas supporters called home, Atlas shirts were met with some side-eyed stares.

But late in the game, even after Alustiza drove the dagger into the striped supporters’ hearts, a Mexican flag was unveiled in a section of the most boisterous fans.

Even in a game between two of Liga MX’s biggest rivals, the main message was one of Mexican unity.

jmeyer@express-news.net

Twitter: @jmeyer1897