My unexpected extended stay in Chicago allowed me the chance to see Colombia play Chile in the semifinals of the Copa América Centenario. For me, it pitted the country I now call home against a country I lived in for a short time. Both of them have given me fond memories, but on this night, I would support Colombia.
It was highly unlikely that Colombia would play in Chicago. They were expected to win their group which would give them a potential semifinal berth in Houston. Well, they tripped up in their final game against Costa Rica and finished second, meaning the path to Chicago was wide open. I waited until two days before the game and was excited to find amazing seats at a reasonable price.
I took my mom to the game with me. We drove up to Soldier Field in a torrential downpour and arrived two hours before kickoff. The rain stopped and we walked to the stadium. We took our time and settled in to our seats an hour later. I had much better seats than the ones I had for the Argentina vs Panamá game 12 days earlier.
The crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Colombian and the stands were filled with yellow shirts. Small pockets of Chilean fans in red were noticeable throughout the stadium. The Colombian supporters were much louder, but the mood was friendly and festive on both sides.
The First Half
The players came out onto the field and the national anthems were played to a very enthusiastic crowd. The opening whistle was blown, but it was tough luck for the Colombians as Chile scored two goals off fortunate bounces in the opening 11 minutes. Colombia dominated the play for most of the rest of the first half, but couldn’t put one past Claudio Bravo. The wet field didn’t help the Colombians, either, as they were slipping and sliding all over the place.
At halftime, the spectators were told to take shelter from the severe weather heading towards the area. Thunder roared and lightning flashed throughout the skies as a heavy rain came down onto the field. The 15 minute halftime turned into a two hour delay until everyone was cleared to return to their seats. Almost nobody left, which is extraordinary considering the conditions, and the mood was still festive as the grounds crew tried to push excess water off the field.
The Second Half
The game restarted and Colombia dominated possession once again, but the field conditions were extremely sloppy. It lead to a comedy of errors, with players basically swimming and the ball not bouncing very well. This affected the Colombian efforts greatly along with some questionable calls by the referee. He missed an obvious penalty and gave a harsh second yellow card leading to the expulsion of Carlos Sánchez.
In the end, Chile held on to take a 2-0 win and move on to the finals against Argentina for the second year in a row. It was a disappointing result for me and the other Colombian fans, but it was an amazing experience to be part of such an important game. I can’t help but think that if the field was dry, Colombia would’ve made it a much closer game. In the end, I was happy for the opportunity to watch some of the greatest players in the world, such as Chile’s Alexis Sánchez and Colombia’s James Rodríguez. I was also happy for my Chilean friends who have the chance to celebrate their second consecutive Copa América win.