Heard on the Street: Exploring the Wild Tailgates at the Mexico-Venezuela Friendly in Atlanta

In a tune up friendly for both Mexico (Gold Cup) and Venezuela (Copa America), fans packed Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium and created an electric atmosphere reminiscent of a World Cup match. Always ready for a party, we got to know a little more about each side’s wild tailgate celebrations in the latest edition of Heard on the Street. 

They may be three years away from their next World Cup, but Mexico is making waves to show why they should be one of the favorites. One of the strongest sides heading into this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, El Tri is looking to make a statement after their round of 16 exit in last summer’s World Cup.

mexico gold cup

In contrast, Venezuela — who Mexico took on in a friendly last week — is looking to simply qualify for Qatar 2022, something that the country has never done before. A strong run in the upcoming Copa America would certainly boost their confidence, and a 3-0 thrashing of the USMNT over the weekend would suggest they’re firing on all cylinders.

For the friendly, both Mexico and Venezuela were thousands of miles away from their respective homes, however the energy that filled Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium made the low stakes match feel more like a one out of a World Cup. The match also marked the return of Gerardo “Tata” Martino to Atlanta. The last time Tata was in on the pitch inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium he and Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez shared the same sideline and lifted the MLS Cup. On Wednesday night, they sat on opposite benches.

mexico gold cup

mexico gold cup
Mexican national team manager Tata (top) and Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez (bottom) shared the pitch for the first time since the MLS Cup final in 2018.

Fans started arriving as early as six hours before kickoff. The atmosphere at the tailgates was electric and the pride of both countries were on display. By far the Mexican delegation outnumbered Venezuela’s, but that did not stop Venezuelans from letting it be known that this is the time for their country.

Atlanta United supporter group La Doce hosted both countries’ supporters in The Gulch, the designated parking lot for ATL Utd tailgates. The mariachi band on the main stage helped fuel the energy, while supporters danced and took turns trying to conquer a mechanical bull. If food is your passion there was no shortage of authentic cuisine from both countries. Tacos — al pastor, beef, and chicken — seemed to be the favorite of supporters, and cerveza from around the world helped quench supporters’ thirst before the excitement of the game. The Mexican and Venezuelan fans were given a taste of what Atlanta United supporters have become accustomed to on a match day.

mexico gold cup

mexico gold cup

The Mexican national team is 6-0-1 all time in Atlanta, and they went into the match clear favorites. But the game started with a bang as Venezuela stunned Mexico with an upper-90 goal from Jhon Murillo in the 18th minute. Mexico eventually recovered to score three unanswered, despite the momentous roar from the crowd when Martinez entered the game in the second half for Venezuela.

We were able to catch up with both sides of supporters at the tailgate ahead of the match, starting with the Venezuelan side. Despite being vastly outnumbered, they didn’t let that stop their immense pride from shining through.


mexico gold cup
(L-R) Miguel Flores | Deana Quintero | Zaidan Quintero 

Urban Pitch: What is the best part of a Venezuelan tailgate?

Miguel Flores: It’s actually to come out together, because Venezuelans — in comparison to Mexicans — we are scattered apart throughout Atlanta. This game is bringing us together and giving us an understanding of how many Venezuelans are in Atlanta.

Deana Quintero: The people and the music!

Zaidan Quintero: You can meet people from Venezuela and have fun.

What is the secret to a good tailgate? Are there any must-bring essentials?

Miguel: You must have a flag, salsa, tambores, and beer.

Zaidan: The people — it’s all about coming together as a country.

Deana: Your own speaker for music, because the music is big and people want to dance. You must also have a flag!

What has Josef Martinez meant to Venezuela? And what is your favorite moment from watching him play?

Miguel: He is an inspiration. He puts the Venezuelans up high in the way that he portrays himself, his humbleness, and the effort he puts on and off the field. He is a great icon for us.

Deana: He has given Venezuelans hope. He has come from where we come from to make it to where he is now. It is possible!

Zaidan: He is an unbelievable player and he represents Venezuela and Atlanta United very well.

mexico gold cup

Why is 2022 the year Venezuela finally qualifies for the World Cup?

Miguel: Because as a country and a team there are a lot of things happening now that are very good and it’s going to keep rolling!

Deana: It’s our time to do it.

Zaidan: I feel that the team is growing and it has a lot of potential.


The Mexican national team supporters were next up. The tailgate was full of national pride and families making memories and bonding over the beautiful game.

mexico gold cup
(L-R): Ricardo Jaime| Celeste Jaime | Fernando Tlacuatl 

Urban Pitch: What is the best part of a Mexican tailgate and why?

Ricardo Jamie: The family and the community of it. There’s nothing like it.

Celeste Jamie: It’s getting together with friends and family, and enjoying time away from work.

Fernando Tlacuatl: The family environment. The different faces and the different colors that you see out here. It may sound like just one culture but it’s still very diverse.

What is the secret to a good tailgate? Are there any must-bring essentials?

Ricardo: If it’s not beer, it’s the music!

Celeste: The essential is food. Tacos, beer, and happy and positive people. No negative energy.

Fernando: Definitely carne asada, your beer, a soccer ball, and your buddies.

If you could Add Carlos Vela to Atlanta United or Josef Martinez to the Mexican national team, what would you choose and why?

Ricardo: Josef Martinez. I love Chicharito and I love Raul Jimenez as strikers, but Josef has that edge that Atlanta United has.

Celeste: Josef Martinez to the national team because he is very talented.

Fernando: Carlos Vela to Atlanta United, because I’m local and I need a reason to go for Atlanta United.

mexico gold cup

mexico gold cup

What is your favorite memory as an El Tri fan?

Ricardo: Raul Jimenez, he receives a pass from Fernando Arce, he has a bad touch and it stays over him and he bikes it in for a game-winning goal. That was the game that got us into the 2014 World Cup.

Celeste: There was a game in Mexico where I went to with my cousins and it was so much fun the way our family bonded over the game.

Fernando: The game in Nashville last year. It was the rivalry game against the United States. It never comes this close and it was the experience of that game.

Photography by Dave Williamson

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