Richard Sanchez checks in after winning World Cup title
Monday, July 18
It's been just over a week since the World Cup has ended, and I am a very happy person. The things that have happened in the past days are moments I will not forget for the rest of my life. It truly has left a HUGE mark on my life.
Before the final game started, I couldn't believe that what was once a dream had become a reality. Being able to represent Mexico, or to be able to play in the Azteca stadium was my lifelong dream. What better scenario than a U-17 World Cup to have accomplished these two things at the same time; and not to mention that the stadium was sold out.
I walked onto the field to start my warm-up. As soon as I looked up, there it was. The massive stadium filled with more than 100,000 people in green right before my eyes. I walked towards the center circle and made sure I took a good look around the stadium. The world has many beautiful places and many colossal figures, but this was just a sight to see. I took mental pictures of the stadium and began my warm-up.
Hearing Mexico's national anthem in Azteca, was music to my ears. 105,000 Mexicans came together and sang to the rythm of "El Himno."
The game started and my concentration was at its maximum. Uruguay had a chance early during the first half that could've put them in the lead but luckily the ball didn't go in. Later on in the half, we took the lead. It was off of a corner kick flicked on by Carlos Fierro, leaving it just outside the small box for the captain Antonio Briseño to tap in. A couple of minutes later, Uruguay got a chance just outside the 18, but were unfortunate enough to hit the post before the first half came to an end.
The second half started and again Uruguay got a chance inside the box one on one with me, but they hit the post again. There wasn't much action until the last minutes of the game when Giovanni Casillas scored the second goal, assuring us a World Cup title.
After four minutes of added time, the ref finally blew the whistle. I couldn't believe it. Was this actually true or was I still dreaming? I threw myself onto the ground screaming and shouting. I wanted to cry but couldn't. I wasn't sure of what I was feeling. I wasn't sure if I was dreaming. A couple of my teammates came running towards me and tackled me on the floor. I see my goalkeeper coach running towards me, screaming and shouting. He came up to me and screamed, "CAMPEONES DEL MUNDO!!!!" That's when I realized this was real. After dreaming of a World Cup title for seventeen years, I finally woke up from that dream. I was in a world of euphoria.
We were lining up to receive our medals and I was the first one in line. I walked up the stage dancing and acting a fool. I was so happy I can't even remember who I received the medal from. I shook their hand and they placed my medal around my neck. I went down the row of important people to shake their hands. I remember shaking Joseph Blatter's hand, then Justino Compean's (the president of The Mexican Federation) hand, and finally Felipe Calderon's hand.
As I approached the trophy, there it was! I acted a fool as I came close to it. I waited for the rest of my teammates to receive their medals. The last person to receive his was our captain. Once he got his medal, Joseph Blatter and Felipe Calderon walked towards us with the trophy in their hands. They placed the trophy in Antonio's hands and he raised it up into the sky! "CAMPEONES DEL MUNDO," I thought. We walked off the stage, and my family was there. They were all very happy! My parents got really emotional and so did my brother. It was an incredible moment!
We ran around the field with the trophy in hand showing it off to the fans as our thanks to them for supporting us. The captain and I decided to take the goal nets as a memory of the battle field.
Early the next day, we took a tour bus around Mexico City. As we drove by people were screaming and shouting and congratulating us! We drove all around until we reached "El Angel de la Independencia." More than 50,000 people were present and they all praised and congratulated us. They threw shirts and Mexican flags for us to sign. It was madness.
We then drove up to "Los Pinos" where the president lives. He talked to us and gave us a speech about how he and all of Mexico were proud of us. At the end, he gave each of us players a small flag as a gift. I was truly honored to have received one.
This is something I will never forget. Something I am going to keep locked in my heart for the rest of my life. I know this is just the beginning of many other goals that I have and I'm only hungry for more!
Thank you for all your support!
Wednesday, July 6
Richard here again, writing from the U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
The quarterfinal game against France on Monday was not an easy game at all, but we knew it wouldn't be in the first place. For this match, we knew we had to mentally prepare ourselves and keep playing the way had been for the past four games.
The whistle was blown and the crowd cheered on. We kept possession for a great while during the first half. Our first goal came around the 13th minute with Carlos Fierro sending a low cross into the box. Julio Gomez came in from the top of the 18-yard line and faked a shot to let the ball go past him. Behind him, Kevin Escamilla came in running and finished it from just inside the 18-yard line to give us a 1-0 lead.
After that, the French got possession of the ball. Their right back dribbled all the way into the box from the half line. He took on my left back and got past him, leaving me 1-v-1 against the French player. He pulled the trigger and took a shot to the near post. The shot went in to tie the game 1-1.
The second half came around and we were determined to take home this game. The ref blew the whistle and the second half started. Five minutes into the half, Carlos Fierro put one behind the French goalkeeper. He dribbled into French territory and inside box. The defense was on his back but he managed to get away and went 1-v-1 against the goalkeeper. The 'keeper came off his line, leaving Carlos practically no angle. Carlos, being one of our best forwards, was able to put it in the upper-ninety to give us the 2-1 lead!
Midway through the second half the French regained possession. Their forward came in from my right side 1-v-1. This was an opportunity for France to tie the game. The forward leans back, and tried to bend the ball to my left, but my body followed my arms as I made a big stretch to put a hand to it. I managed to keep my team in the lead.
For the rest of the game we kept possession and left no chance for the French to score. The 90th minute came and the ref blew the whistle to end the game. We were now assured a semifinal game against the Germans!
Thursday will be the day that determines whether or not we play for the championship. My team and I want to go all the way. For that we need you to support us by watching our game with "La Verde" at 6 p.m. (ESPN3.com)!
Saturday, July 2
Hello again everybody,
After an intense week of World Cup games, we have now made it into the quarterfinals and are only looking for more.
The game against Holland is a game that I will never forget. It was not an easy game, as the Dutch played really well with their one-touch style. We started off leading the game during the first half by a score of 2-0. A magnificent goal scored by Giovani Casillas (who is a player that I recommend you keep up with) around the 29th minute and the other goal scored by Carlos Fierro (another player I recommend you follow) around the 43rd minute gave us the lead.
The second half came around and two minutes into the half we committed a foul outside of the box. The free kick was for the Dutch with Memphis Depay taking the kick. He struck the ball with such power that the ball itself moved like a snake. It went over my defense, bounced right on top of the small box, hit the post, and went in. It certainly was a well-taken free kick.
Later on during the second half, Anass Achahbar earned a PK after sending a low cross in to the box. At that instant, one of my defenders slid but was unfortunate to mistime the tackle and accidentally touched the ball with his hand inside the box. The ref blew the whistle indicating a PK. All eyes were on me. I knew I had to stay composed in order to block the shot. I walked up to the spot only to try and make the Dutch player nervous. I backed myself up to the goal line and waited for the ref to blow the whistle.
At first I thought to myself, "This guy is shooting to my right." I second guessed myself and said, "No, he is shooting it to my left." At that point, a lot of things were going through my head. The crowd was chanting "PORTERO, PORTERO, PORTERO!" My heart was pumping fast, I took a deep breath, and waited for the ref to blow the whistle.
The ref blew the whistle and everything went silent. It was just me and the ball. Before I knew it, the ball was traveling to my left. I threw myself to my left and stretched my arms out. The ball hit my hands and rebounded into the feet of another Dutch player. He took the shot trying to chip me, but I saved it. At that point, I felt a sense of euphoria and couldn't believe that I blocked a PK during a World Cup.
The 94th minute came around and Arturo Gonzalez got a goal for us, ending the game with a 3-2 win.
This win will leave a mark on my life. I received a standing ovation from the crowd even though I felt that I had an inconsistent game. The standing ovation is something I will never forget. On top of that, my team was the first Mexican National team of any age group to leave the group stage of a World Cup with nine points. I was shocked when I first found that out and the fact that I was part of that made me really emotional! And it only drove me to want more.
Our next game was against Panama. It was a second stage game, round of 16 and if we lost, we were out. The field conditions were really wet after a whole week of pouring rain.
The game started and right off the bat, we were leading the game in the second minute. The goal was scored by Carlos Fierro off a corner kick taken by Julio Gomez. Panama had a couple of chances to score, but with the help of my defenders, we were able to keep ourselves in the game. There wasn't much action during the game until the 89th minute when Marco Bueno scored a goal off another corner kick. This assured our way into the quarterfinals.
Our next game is against France on Monday at 6 p.m. central time (ESPN3.com). I ask that you please support our team by putting on "La Verde" and tuning your TV to a channel where they will show our game!
Friday, June 24
It's Richard here, reporting from Monterrey. It has been a really exciting week, as we have won our first two games at the U-17 World Cup!
We started off shaky the first game because we were really nervous. Being down 1-0 in the first three minutes was a real bummer, but we managed to score three goals in the end. My teammates and I were all really happy to have pulled this win off. It relieved us from all the nerves that we held inside and gave us confidence to play better the next game.
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The second game was against Congo and this time we were more relaxed. We started off winning during the first half. Congo managed to tie us during the second half in the 73rd minute, but we came back minutes later to win the game 2-1.
Tonight we play our final group stage game against Holland. I ask that you please support El Tri, by watching our game as we kick off at 6 p.m. on Galavision and ESPN3.com!