Ocampo celebrates her long-range strike against England at the World Cup in Wolfsburg [GALLO/GETTY]

Mexico's national football team not only retained their continental Gold Cup crown but in the past three weeks have also made their mark as one of the most successful sports brands in North America.

In their six games at different venues across the United States, Mexico attracted an average attendance of 71,500 fans including the 93,000 who turned out at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Saturday.
 
Stadiums built for NFL teams have been packed with Spanish-speaking families singing and chanting and dressed in green jerseys.
 
The result has been a passionate 'home field' advantage for Mexico against all opponents – even the United States in Los Angeles.
 
"It's an unbelievable feeling, we have some many Mexican fans in the United States and we have to say thanks for all the support we get," said Manchester United striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, fast becoming a global name in the sport.
 
The team is also generating the kind of attention that would be the envy of most of the top American sports teams.

The Mexicans have produced television audiences that have pushed Spanish-language network Univision to the top of the US ratings for peak-time on Saturday night for the past two weeks, beating all the leading England-language channels.

The final, which Mexico won 4-2, attracted an average audience of 8 million throughout the broadcast – in Spanish. 

To put into context, game seven of the NHL's Stanley Cup, averaged 8.5 million in the States on NBC and the final round of the US Open golf drew 9 million on the same channel – both in English.
 
Not surprisingly the Mexican team have attracted some top-level sponsors, eager to gain from association with a true Hispanic success story in the States.

"The team are now one of the top sports brands in the States and companies have stepped up and seen the value of that," said Michael Hitchcock of Texas-based Playbook Management International, who specialise in football business in North America

"They are selling out stadiums, selling jerseys, selling sodas, selling beers – anyway you look at it they are a money-making machine because the fans are so passionate."

Among those sponsoring the team are all-American brands normally more associated with traditional US sports, among them Coca Cola and Home Depot.

Women earn draw

Meanwhile at the women's World Cup in Germany on Monday, a long-range goal from Mexico forward Monica Ocampo saw the central Americans hold England to a 1-1 draw on in their opening Group B match.

The Atlanta Beat winger was well outside the England penalty area when she hit a long-range first-half effort which curled up before dropping down into the top left hand-corner of the England net.

"It's not something that I trained to do, it just came from the flow of the  game. Thank god it went in and it put us back in the game," said Ocampo.

"It is special because it is a World Cup goal, I am really proud to have
scored it."

Ocampo's effort in the 33rd minute was enough to share the points in  Wolfsburg after England midfielder Fara Williams had earlier put the Three Lions ahead.

"No excuses, we have played better and we will have to play better if we want to stay in this tournament," said England coach Hope Powell.

"The goal flew in, didn't it, we would have expected the goalkeeper to save that, she is bitterly disappointed, we dominated up until that point, so we gave away a point."

Leonardo Cuellar's Mexico face Group B leaders Japan in Leverkusen on Friday while England take on New Zealand in Dresden the same day.

The Japanese lead the group after their 2-1 win over New Zealand earlier in the day.

Source: Agencies