Last May, at the Rapids' Hispanic Heritage Night -- while mariachis trumpeted and girls danced and swirled in traditional costumes -- brothers Carlos and Juan Morales patrolled the parking lot of Invesco Field. One was clad in a Rapids soccer jersey; the other sported the colors of that night's opponent, Chivas USA.
"We were thinking about cutting the jerseys in half and sewing them together," Juan said at the time, "till we realized that we couldn't really wear those jerseys much."
Though the Moraleses are die-hard Rapids fans, their parents hail from Jalisco, Mexico, land of the beloved Chivas. As a result, Carlos and Juan were raised with the Mexican club's games beaming into their living room via Telemundo. As if offering proof, Carlos pulled out the trading card of Ramón Ramirez, the star player who helped lead Chivas Guadalajara to the Mexican league title last year, and who now plays for the Major League Soccer incarnation of the team, Chivas USA. He gushes proudly about the man he watched navigate Mexican playing fields and whom he came to see take the pitch against his Rapids. But what if the Rapids and Chivas USA were ever to square off in an MLS championship?
"I don't know," Carlos said. "I love the Rapids, but I've loved Chivas since I was born."
The Morales brothers are exactly the sort of fans that Chivas owners must have targeted when they decided to take their brand al norteand establish a club based in Los Angeles. Shrewdly outfitting the U.S. version of the team in the signature Chivas red and white stripes, the owners found an instant fan base in the millions of Mexicans now living here -- firmly grounded in their new home, yet still pining for the traditions of their motherland. For Chivas fans, it doesn't matter whether the squad is Club Deportivo Guadalajara Chivas or the upstart Chivas USA. Chivas is Chivas. Odds are that both Carlos and Juan will be back tonight at 7:30 p.m. when the Rapids battle Chivas once again at Invesco Field.
"They're a team that throughout their history in Mexico has only fielded Mexican players," says Rapids spokesman Jurgen Menka. "Like a national team on a club level. That tradition carries over here, and it has really raised attendance."
Popularity, however, does not guarantee success: Chivas USA has struggled to adjust to the league, and the first-year franchise finds itself dead last. Hoping to go out with a bang, though, team owners have pulled up Juan Pablo Garcia and Juan Francisco Palencia from Guadalajara, leaving the Mexican sports media furious about the loss of these talented players.
Chivas remains the great experiment for the little-engine-that-could MLS, with the league hoping that a more international feel will lead to more international players and play, and an overall improvement of the quality of soccer. The popular Mexican club America has expressed interest in creating a U.S. squad, as have the Argentine Boca Juniors, and soccer sages predict that, given even limited success, Real Madrid and Manchester United won't be far behind, eager to break into that last untapped soccer market.
Way to Go
The Adventure Rabbi leads folks higher.
Once, long ago, I went to the mountains on Yom Kippur, where I sat on a rock and communed with nature in the crisp autumn air. There are two things about that day that I remember vividly: how I felt incredibly guilty, to the point of lying to my Jewish employer about which shul I went to (something else to atone for), and the fact that it's the one Yom Kippur observance I can actually remember. If only Rabbi Jamie Korngold, aka the Adventure Rabbi, had been around back then.
Korngold will celebrate the High Holidays today and tomorrow by leading a Rosh Hashanah campout at Glacier Mountain Ranch near Boulder. Along with religious services, the retreat includes hiking, biking and yoga; the cost, $125, includes meals. Call 303-417-6200 or go to www.adventurerabbi.com for details. L'chaim! -- Susan Froyd
To wrestle one's arm free from an alligator's clamped jaws, the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbookadvises punching the sharp-toothed reptile on the snout. To extract your arm from the grip of an 800-pound boulder that's left you trapped in a remote desert canyon in Utah, Colorado, climber Aron Ralston might recommend amputation with a dull pocketknife. Two and a half years ago, Ralston took that advice and lived to write about it in Between a Rock and a Hard Place. The survivor-turned-best-selling-author will read from his account and sign copies today at 6:30 p.m. at the Denver Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue. The free event is in the Level B2 Conference Center. For more information, call 702-865-1111. -- Drew Bixby
Do It Your Way
Run, walk, pedicab or sleep in today to show your support for the thirteenth annual Susan G. Komen Denver Race for the Cure. Über-athletes can compete in the 5K race, which starts at 7 a.m. at the Pepsi Center, while the less die-hard can choose from three slightly more sedate run/walks that begin later in the day. For the truly morning-impaired, there's Sleep in for the Cure. Donating cash in advance scores the T-shirt but lets you sit at home and sip mimosas instead of breaking a sweat. Or call on your inner artist and help create the world's largest puzzle. It's just a buck to purchase and decorate a piece. Race registration fees start at $30 for adults, with discounted prices for children, seniors and families. For more information, call 303-576-8705 or run to www.raceforthecure-denver.com. -- Debra A. Myers