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Mexico fans boycott third-place game against Panama after USMNT defeat

The Mexican fans showed their feelings towards the national team with an abysmal turnout for their third-place playoff against Panama.

The Mexican fans showed their feelings towards the national team with an abysmal turnout for their third-place playoff against Panama.
Adrian Macias

3:28 said the clock that ticked along sheepishly on the scoreboard of the giant, black bowl, plonked in the sand like it had fallen from the back of a spaceship; Allegiant Stadium will not host a game at the 2026 World Cup, and it will probably never host a game like Mexico vs Panama. After just a few minutes, Jesús Gallardo turned the 0 into a 1 for Mexico yet the silence radiating through the stands that circled effortlessly around the pitch was what grabbed the attention of the few people actually watching it, eyes slicing from side to side: are we allowed to cheer?

Mexico’s slump to a devastating defeat against the USMNT in the semi-finals of the Concacaf Nations League is already presenting the consequences. Diego Cocca’s side took on the other losing semi-finalist, Panama, who fell to Canada, in the third-place playoff. El Tri’s game in the semi, before being marred by violent scenes, red cards and homophobic chants, was characterised by the ferociously passionate fans that had turned out to support their team in green, white and red.

Then the patience ran out.

Mexican fans boycott Allegiant Stadium

Against Panama, the Mexican fans did not show up, with the good feelings towards their team finally using up all the fuel that was left to burn as the black seats inside Allegiant Stadium just moments before kick-off, in stark contrast to the game just days before, stood as 61,000 reminders for the players what they were responsible for.

The fans have had enough of the lack of direction from the FMF, the management and the on-pitch decisions, with even the players seemingly at odds with what message they want to put out. Edson Álvarez claimed that fans and journalists have “no patience”, while Santi Giménez said that Mexico “weren’t up to the task” against a far superior USMNT. Confusion is seeping from all sides of the divide.

What did Diego Cocca say after the game vs USMNT?

Diego Cocca has been criticised heavily since the defeat, with rumours of a player boycott circling. Ahead of the game against Panama, the Argentine coach spoke of the analysis post-USA game and how Mexico plan on turning things around: “This is football and it lets you have revenge. The night of the game against the United States was tough, it hurt a lot, but we got on with analysing our mistakes, to see what we did well and badly, what we need to learn to not do the same again. We talked about individual and collective errors; we took responsibility for it and agreed on what to do. Then we analysed Panama”, he said.

“Tomorrow (18 June), we are going to go out onto the pitch convinced we can do our best, believing in the project”, Cocca continued, “we have the chance to show we are alive and that we want the best for the National team. The players are all here, excited and wanting to turn things around. The players are hurt but the way to face up to it is taking it on, getting positive conclusions and trying not to make the same mistakes, to keep growing.”