Local News

Soccer Fans Even Climb Trees to Catch RailHawks' Match

Posted July 25, 2007 10:52 p.m. EDT
Updated July 25, 2007 11:48 p.m. EDT

— The Carolina RailHawks soccer team took on Cruz Azul, one of the top professional teams from Mexico, Wednesday.

The Cary-based team used the exhibition match to tap into soccer's popularity among the Triangle's Hispanic community.

More than two hours before game time, fans lined up outside SAS Soccer Park to see the teams play.

“Cruz Azul is huge,” said Hans Burt.

“For me, it’s a big deal,” said fellow fan Elmer Molina.

The game caught the attention of David Reddy and his son Daniel, who drove down from Virginia.

“We heard the team was huge, and we wanted to see for ourselves, and of course support the RailHawks,” David said. “I hope they do well, but we want the RailHawks to do better.”

For Triangle soccer fans from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, soccer is No. 1. Rodolfo Garcia and his family live in the Triangle. For him and so many fans, the game brings a piece of their sport's culture to the place they now call home.

“We don’t have too much opportunity to see games, so I’m happy,” Garcia said.

Fans who couldn't get into the game found other ways to get a view of the action. Some climbed trees to see the match.

“There was no way I was going to miss this,” Molina said.

In their first year, the RailHawks are averaging a little more than 4,000 fans per game. More than 8,500 fans filled the soccer park for Wednesday night’s match, and that’s not counting the ones in the trees, on the side of the hill and those standing on cars in the parking lot.

“We did it with Chivas (soccer team) not too long ago,” said Marco Rosa, RailHawks spokesman. “Most of the fans were Latino/Hispanic, and they were all wearing Chivas jerseys. But by the end of the game, they were all wearing RailHawks jerseys.”

Cruz Azul came away with the trophy Wednesday as they beat the RailHawks 2 -0 with goals by Cesar Villaluz and Adrian Cortez.

Next, the RailHawks will face Miami FC at SAS Soccer Park in Cary at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.