Brazil, Canada tie; Greece loses to Colombia, D2World Cup fever came early to Pasadena.
The city, local merchants and law enforcement agencies gearing up for the international soccer tournament later this month got a taste of the anticipated frenzy during an exhibition match between the United States and Mexico on Saturday.Some 90,000 fans snarled traffic on two freeways as they weaved their way to the Rose Bowl, honking their horns and waving flags from their windows.
"We had to park three miles away," said Jonathan Rosales.
Running those three miles to reach the stadium, Rosales worked up a sweat that left his red, white and blue face paint dripping from his chin.
"It's a mess," he said.
As the United States team battled to a 1-0 victory, officers from 40 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies gathered at a joint operations command post in a rehearsal for World Cup games.
The World Cup will run from June 17-July 17 in nine U.S. cities. The first game at the Rose Bowl is scheduled for June 18.
Authorities said they were generally pleased with the results. Although tempers occasionally flared outside, fans inside the Rose Bowl were well-behaved.
"Everything is really good," said Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy Phil Morris. "There's been a lot of horn-blowing, whistling and carrying on, but once they got in, they've been having a good time."
A last-minute sellout stirred some concern among security officials because it meant that late-arriving fans without tickets would be turned away, complicating traffic congestion. Crowds of fans slumped on sidewalks, dejected at missing a game that some had traveled all day to attend.
By late afternoon, the streets of Old Town Pasadena were bustling and merchants said business was booming.
"Everything's going really well," said Leah Martinez, a manager at the Market City Caffe. "It's a lot of different people, but everyone's getting along. It's very friendly."
The many fans who arrived with flags posed a minor problem for officials. While flag-waving is common at soccer games abroad, authorities have barred flagpoles from the World Cup games this year because they could be used as weapons. As a result, officials detached flags and confiscated the poles at the stadium gates.
"We had planned this as a final dress rehearsal," said Pasadena Police Cmdr. Mary L. Schander, whose department is the lead agency for security in and around the Rose Bowl. "It was a good thing because we needed it."
In the end, only two people were arrested in connection with the event.