Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Great American Hope

Herculez Gomez will play at Estadio Azteca tonight for Estudiantes. Azteca is of course the most hallowed ground in all of Mexico. One of the nation's most popular club teams plays there as America calls Azteca home. But more significantly, Azteca is home to the Mexican national team.

Azteca though has been conquered by Americans before - at least individually. The U.S. has always done miserably there but Eddie Lewis and Charlie Davies have scored goals there in World Cup qualifying matches.

But have any Americans scored there in a club game? Might Herculez become the first American to score there for a club team?


If he scores there, it will be a great accomplishment both for himself and for Americans abroad. But he will join a list that has already been started.

Cle Kooiman scored for Cruz Azul in a Clasico Joven at Estadio Azteca on Nov. 29, 1992. Match stats here. Funny thing is, the Ontario, Calif.-born Kooiman scored three goals during his career in Mexico and one of them happened to be in Azteca.

But is Kooiman the only American to ever score a goal at the Azteca for a club team? I don't even know if that information exists as to how many Americans have scored goals for club teams there but so far Kooiman is the only one I can think of or discovered when researching it.

Kooiman was a bit of an oddity. He captained Cruz Azul during his time there, in the early 1990s. For an American to be on such a high-profile Mexican club then was very rare but to be captain... I remember finding out that he was American. One of my aunts - a staunch Cruz Azul supporter to this day - defended him and said he was one of their toughest players and how she was a big fan of is. I wonder if she had that defensive position right away because Azul fans had to defend an American as captain or if she just had a thing for the guy and stuck up for him because of that.

Anyway, Kooiman so far as in the list, and Herculez Gomez could make that at least two Americans who've broken through at Azteca for a club team.