USA and Mexico show unity with group picture before World Cup qualifier kickoff

In any other installment of the heated men’s soccer rivalry between the United States and Mexico, it would have been unthinkable. But Friday’s World Cup qualifier wasn’t just any chapter in the long fight between the region’s preeminent powers, who have jostled for control of CONCACAF for decades.

Because this one fell just three days after a presidential election in which the ultimate winner demonized Mexicans and promised to build a wall between the nations.

[ USA-Mexico: Late winner | New hope | Klinsmann’s bad call | Match tracker ]

So for days, the question had been how either side of this rivalry would react to all this in Columbus, Ohio.

Both fan groups, the American Outlaws and Pancho Villa’s Army, made it clear publicly that they expected their members to behave respectfully and inclusively during the build-up and the match itself.

But to drive home the point, both teams posed together ahead of kickoff, mingling and draping their arms over one another. You would never have seen such a thing in the past, but the circumstances called for it.

Bravo, gentlemen. For demonstrating that, deep down, we’re all the same. That any animosity between these teams is of the sporting kind. And that while it may be impossible to keep politics out of soccer, even the biggest game is still just a game.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.