For the past four weeks, pessimism and rumourmongering dominated the minds of Madridistas. With a pedestrian record in preseason, the unexpected loss of Marco Asensio to a devastating injury, and the sports media pushing palace intrigue stories and transfer rumors brought doomsday scenarios to dinner table and bar chats. Never before had a preseason garnered so much attention. However, Saturday’s season-opening victory against Celta in Vigo restored optimism and happiness, especially in two Madridismo strongholds in America: Houston and Miami.
Let’s start with the city that hosted the first preseason game, Houston. For three years the Real Madrid Houston Peña (@real_madridHOU) has been a center where local and visiting Madridistas gather to support the team in watch parties, share stories about Real Madrid experiences, and represent the Club in the great state of Texas. Under the direction of Chairman Eddie Mendoza, the Peña is quickly becoming a force in the American Madridismo movement. One shining moment was the Peña receiving a shoutout in the 36th minute from beIN Sports play-by-play commentator José Hernández.
At their downtown headquarters called King’s Court Bar & Kitchen, Peña Members and friends walked in before kickoff with cautious optimism. When it was all said and done, the Peña had renewed confidence. Member Mayra Rodriguez said, “It’s exciting to see them play with passion again. Moving forward I hope they find their rhythm.” Fellow Member Amy Ward brought up our eternal rival: “I’m glad we capitalized on Barcelona’s loss yesterday and I’m looking forward to seeing how the team’s chemistry comes together over the coming weeks.” Finally, Eddie Mendoza expressed joy after the win: “Perfect way to start the new season with a win! I enjoyed how everyone contributed to the score sheet. I would like to see the defense play like this the whole season and keep a few clean sheets. Hala Madrid!” Houston approves this liftoff.
In the southeast region, a new chapter is being written in the Miami hub of Madridismo: Peña Madridista Sur de Florida (@rmsurdeflorida). Saturday’s viewing party at Champions Florida Sports Bar in Doral was the first under the direction of new Chairwoman Maria Garcia-Mella Cid. A diverse group of men, women, and children gathered to watch Real Madrid’s season debut and celebrated each of the three goals with passion and euphoria. After the game ended, there was a raffle drawing for a new Real Madrid jersey.
Maria Garcia-Mella Cid on the team’s evolution since July, said, “I saw a much more compact team than during the preseason with a lot of defensive solidarity which was lacking in the summer.”
On the best and worst players, it was clear to her who stood out: “Bale was the best player. Against all forecasts, he ran, fought, assisted, and left everything on the field. The worst was Odriozola. He committed an error like a beginner and if it wasn’t for VAR it would have cost a goal.” Finally, she gave some notes on what the team should do moving forward, “I hope that they keep moving the ball with velocity and criterion. Verticality and without sterile possessions. That they keep shooting from outside the box.”
On a day which brought 90-degree heat and 70% humidity to both cities, the common feeling that trumped that weather was happiness. The time has come for the team to perform, and Madridistas know the stakes. The season has only just begun, but one thing is certain: Real Madrid Houston Peña and Peña Madridista Sur de Florida will continue to be distinguished embassies for Real Madrid in the United States. ¡Hala Madrid y nada más!
- Christian Paredes (@xian_d_paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of Peña Madridista Sur de California (@rmsurcalifornia)