The fireworks at Cashman Field Wednesday night had nothing on the ones that went off inside and outside Sam Boyd Stadium.
There were fights in the parking lot, fights on the field and fights in the stands as the El Super Clasico soccer “friendly” between Chivas Guadalajara and Club America at times resembled “Slapshot” on grass.
When the two teams did focus on soccer, they put on an entertaining show for the announced crowd of 14,600 with Chivas’ Giovani Casillas scoring in the 88th minute to break up a scoreless game and give the Goats a 1-0 win.
The intensity and dislike the teams and their supporters have for each other lived up to the hype. An hour before kickoff, fans from the two teams clashed in the Sam Boyd parking lot.
“It was a timing issue,” said promoter Tim Luce, who put on Wednesday’s game. “The fan clubs crossed paths at the wrong time, and unfortunately, a couple of bad apples upset the cart.”
Traffic to Sam Boyd Stadium from Russell Road was stopped at Boulder Highway and some fans were told the game was canceled.
But that wasn’t the case. The game proceeded as scheduled and the crowd was into it.
A few fans smuggled flares into the stadium, set them off and tossed them on the field. But the flares were quickly removed from the playing surface. A Chivas player was doused with beer by some America fans while attempting a throw-in which didn’t sit well with supporters of the Goats.
“I don’t know how they got that into the stadium,” Sam Boyd director Mike Newcomb said of the flares. “That’s not acceptable here.”
Then came the on-the-field brawl. A hard foul by America’s Paul Aguilar in the 36th minute led to retaliation by Chivas’ Giavani Hernandez.
Players from both sides joined in, and when order was restored, America’s Aguilar and Rubens Sambueza had been red-carded as had Chivas’ Hernandez and Hector Reynoso.
In all, nine cards were issued by referee Jesus Cisneros.
But as the game was winding down and headed toward a scoreless draw, Abraham Coronado took the ball down the right side and made a simple cross across the box to Casillas, who was left unmarked 8 yards out. He calmly deposited the ball into the goal, sparking a wild celebration among the Chivas fans, several of whom managed to jump onto the field and congratulate their heroes before the game officially ended.
When it appeared order was not going to be restored, both teams quickly left the field, ending a night that had the fans fighting again, this time on the field.
Players from Chivas immediately got on their bus and left without talking to reporters while the Club America postgame mixed zone consisted of a team executive who waited until the stadium was empty to appear. There also was a large police presence outside the stadium as the crowd exited.
Club America president Ricardo Pelaez said, “Nothing good came out of this, security- or soccer-wise. We’re going to have to rethink what we do in the future real hard.”
Luce said he’d like to bring the game back to Las Vegas. The question is whether Las Vegas wants to host the game. A bigger issue is whether Wednesday’s incidents will have a negative impact on the city’s quest to one day field a Major League Soccer franchise. There have been several soccer matches played in the city the past couple of years, and there was none of the violence and anger that was on display Wednesday.
“I’ve done soccer games for 25 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen,” Luce said.
“I hope it doesn’t put the city in a bad light in terms of its support for soccer.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.