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Poland And Mexico Tie In World Cup Opener — And City Of Chicago Wins, Fans Say

A World Cup matchup between the national teams of two of Chicago's largest immigrant populations brought out early morning fans across the city.

Mexico fans from the Southwest Side packed a neighborhood pub as their team took on a rival: Poland.
Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Mexico and Poland called it a truce Tuesday morning in what’s been dubbed “The Battle for Archer Avenue.”

The two countries saw their soccer teams face off in the World Cup. Chicagoans joked it’d be a divisive match, as the city is home to large Mexican and Polish populations. They poured into neighborhood bars to cheer and gasp into their 10 a.m. beers.

The match ended in a scoreless tie.

A group of old friends from Thomas Kelly High School crushed Hamm’s beers and brought their own carnitas to share at One City Tap, 3115 S. Archer Ave.

Juan Alejandre, who lives in Boston but came to Chicago for the holidays, said “there’s no better place to watch this game.”

Alejandre is Mexican and grew up in McKinley Park near Archer Avenue, he said. His wife is Polish and his sister-in-law was at a Polish history museum watching the game, he said.

Alejandre got his son a Poland jersey, “but he said he’s rooting for both,” Alejandre said.

“This game represents the heart and soul of the city. It was built by immigrants. And this is the best sports town in the country,” Alejandre said. “So to have the two teams play, with fans from the two largest immigrant groups watching, I think it’s pretty cool.”

Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
Poland fan Derek Chmura and supporters clad in red drink away the soccer anxiety at Keeper’s Pub, 6232 W. Addison St.

Julio Barradas closed his sneaker and barbershop to watch the game with friends at One City. He said he’s excited the Latino community can come together and support each other around soccer.

“Mexicans throughout the world are going nuts right now. There’s local pride, but we can also share in this everywhere,” Barradas said. “That said, there’s definitely a rivalry today, too.”

Polish immigrant Derek Chmura stepped out of Keeper’s Pub, 6232 W. Addison St., for some air after the match. With group favorite Argentina suffering an upset loss against Saudi Arabia, Tuesday’s tie could play in the favor of Poland and Mexico, who each earned one point in the group standings, Chmura said.

“I’ll call it a friendly game. And the whole city wins,” Chmura said. “We’re all friendly people, and this is an immigrant city, so we stick together.”

Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
A group of old friends from Kelly High School show out at One City Tap in McKinley Park for Mexico’s World Cup match against Poland.

Damian Castillo, of Brighton Park, said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about Mexico’s chances in the World Cup as he polished off a Hamm’s at Keeper’s.

Tailgating at Bears games has prepared Castillo well for the World Cup’s early morning start times, he said.

“I’ll cheer for Mexico until the day I die,” Castillo said. “And I got a lot of love for my Polish friends, too.”

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