Fans get chance to play with USA, Mexico soccer idols at Jimi Cup

Ten lucky contest winners got the chance to play in a fantasy soccer game in Mexico with and against some of their soccer heroes.
Brandi Chastain took the ball down the right flank and aimed a cross into the box. As the ball sailed well wide of the goal, Chastain exasperatedly motioned towards the crowd for a sub. In a move every soccer fan is now familiar with, she ripped off her jersey and exposed her black sports bra as she ran towards the stands.

Out of the crowd came a spectator, who put Chastain's jersey on over his polo shirt as he bounded onto the pitch. Wearing his jersey and a pair of jeans, he replaced Chastain in the lineup.

“As I was told by my teammates, my crossing was abominable at times,” Chastain said. “This game for me, it's been my livelihood, but it's also been my passion. It's what makes me feel good and I thought I'd share that.”

While a fan replacing a player during the course of the game would be slightly bizarre in regular competition, at the Jimi Cup, it was all par for the course.

Last week, el Jimador tequila sent 10 contest winners to play in a fantasy soccer match at the Casa Herradura distillery just outside of Guadalajara, Mexico. In addition to Chastain, former U.S. national team players Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman, and former Mexico national team stars Claudio Suarez, Ramon Ramirez and Monica Gonzalez also took part in the match.

With Lalas, Twellman and Chastain on one team and Suarez, Ramirez and Gonzalez on the other, the match, naturally, was Team USA vs. Team Mexico. Contest winners switched sides during the game and much to the delight of the assembled crowd, Mexico emerged victorious, winning 6-3 behind an inspirational performance by Ramirez.  

Aside from Chastain's liberal interpretation of the substitution rule, and contest winners switching sides mid-game, there was, shall we say, another quirk of the hour-long match: It was sandwiched between a tour of the distillery and a tequila-fueled lunch.

“I get to run around, drink tequila and play soccer, so for me, this is pretty much a perfect day,” Lalas said.

Mainly though, the event was for the contest winners who, along with a guest, got to interact with some of their soccer heroes during the course of the three days in Mexico.

“There's something extremely unique about this, because for two or three days, you mingle with everyone,” Twellman said. “There's nothing like this, you come down here, you play on a soccer field in the middle of a tequila factory ... this is very unique.

"The reality is the 10 contestants got a great show, and I feel like I'm one of the contestants, and I'm supposed to be actually the pro athlete, so it's been a blast.”

Former Mexico national team captain Gonzalez echoed Twellman's sentiment.

“I feel like I'm one of the fans here as well,” Gonzalez said. “We're all here learning about how tequila is made, we're in Mexico. There's nothing more Mexican than tequila, except for maybe soccer.”

The tequila and soccer were both in abundance during the event, but more importantly, the fans got a chance to mingle with some of their soccer idols. Sometimes, even with their trademark sports bra on.