HARRISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Peru versus Iceland … in New Jersey.
It’s a soccer matchup that is certainly out of the ordinary. While fans were loving it, area police and even the mayor of nearby East Rutherford weren’t ready for a crowd like what they witnessed on Tuesday, CBS2’s Erin Logan reported.
Peruvian flags were held high and cellphones were out as soccer fans captured all of the excitement Monday night. The scene? The parking lot of the Hilton Meadowlands. That’s where the Peru’s national soccer team is staying and where fans were following the players around.
“Really crazy. They had torches. Somebody blew a firework. There was a lot of people,” Allesandro Briceno said.
East Rutherford Mayor James L. Cassella told CBS2’s Logan that’s no exaggeration. One woman was even arrested for disorderly conduct.
When asked if he was nervous last night, Briceno said, “Yes. Nervous. Scared. Tired.”
However, Briceno wide awake on Tuesday. He and his dad came all the way from Western Canada to watch Peru play Iceland. They joined many others Tuesday morning chasing the bus through the parking lot when the players returned from practice.
The players, of course, were protected by police when they got off the bus, but that didn’t stop fans from getting as close to them as possible.
“I have been counting the days and waiting to come here and explore and meet the team and take pictures,” said Allison Portillo of Woodbridge, Virginia, adding when asked what was like seeing the players get off the bus, “It was really cool.”
Fans from seemingly everywhere were showing off their jerseys and sharing the excitement with strangers.
“It’s coming from L.A., Atlanta, Chicago,” Luis Mendoza said.
They’re all hoping for another victory like the one pulled off Friday against Croatia in Florida. Fans told Logan they’re so fired up because this is the first time in 36 years that Peru has qualified for the World Cup.
“We all have Peru in our hearts,” Portillo said.
Briceno then boldly predicted a big win for Peru on Tuesday.
“Three to zero,” he said with a laugh.
The real excitement was set to begin at Red Bull Arena at 8 p.m. Fans said this week’s experience has them counting down the days until the World Cup.