I Won’t be Cheering for Mexico in the World Cup

Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The World Cup starts in ten days, and no, the United States won’t be participating.

I explained the pathetic qualification failure back in October. 

Without the “rah rah USA!” routine for the non-soccer fan to follow this summer, there’s another half-narrative going around, the idea that you should pick a different team to cheer for. And maybe that team should be Mexico.

Before I even get into it, I don’t understand this obsession with requiring someone to have a rooting interest. There’s this overwhelming idea that Americans need to pick a Premier League team to follow, like Everton, or Liverpool, or Fulham. I’ve always found that to be corny, especially in Philadelphia, where we totally rag on natives who go on to become Cowboy or Yankee fans. If you’ve never been to Dallas, can you really be a Cowboy fan? By the same token, how much of a Chelsea supporter can you really be if you live in Marlton and have never been to London? I don’t know, it just feels fake to me.

I always just found it appealing to watch the games and enjoy them as a neutral. You wake up at 8 on Saturday morning, make breakfast for the kids, flip on Arsenal and Tottenham, and see a high-level derby. The best part is that you don’t get angry, since you don’t have that natural rooting interest. You aren’t in a pissy mood for the rest of the day if your team loses. ACC basketball, for instance, is a lot more exciting if you’re not a Pitt fan. You just watch quality college basketball without the emotional attachment and the 18 straight conference losses.

So with the United States not being in the World Cup, some people are applying this “who are you going to cheer for?” thing to the upcoming tournament. If you’re half-German or married a Croatian woman or have a Senegalese sister-in-law, I can understand getting behind those countries. Maybe your local team, like Seattle, has a guy like Gustav Svensson, who was called up by Sweden, so you, the Sounders supporter, wanna see your player do well on the world’s biggest stage.

I can support that.

Major League Soccer has a bunch of players representing Costa Rica and Panama, one for Egypt and a pair of Peruvians. So if you’re a Philadelphia Union fan and you care about the growth of the league and the international perception of MLS, you should want to see Omar Gaber and Yoshi Yotun and Anibal Godoy perform well.

That’s different from wanting to see CONCACAF teams do well. Whereas Costa Rica beating Italy in 2014 probably gave the confederation a boost, it didn’t do anything to specifically help the U.S. national team. For example, you’ll see Arkansas fans cheer for Georgia against Michigan because they want the SEC to beat the Big 10 as part of some territorial pissing contest, but nothing tangible changes in the Razorback program. Same thing with Auburn and Alabama. Do Tide fans really care if their arch rival beats Illinois in the Capital One bowl? No, I think most Bama fans want War Eagle to get slapped around and embarrassed on national television.

That’s USA and Mexico – arch rivals. I don’t know why you would cheer for your arch rival to win anything. I’m not rolling into the World Cup pulling for El Tri. I’d like to see them lose every game 7-2, with their MLS-based players scoring the goals and their Liga MX players failing miserably. I want to see Juan Carlos Osorio get fired and the entire team disbanded and thrown into chaos ahead of the next Gold Cup and qualifying cycle. I want every Mexican-American who is eligible to play for both countries choose the United States because El Tri is a hot mess. We don’t want another Jonathan Gonzalez situation:

It’s that simple. A weaker Mexico benefits the U.S. national team rebuild. You’re competing for players and pride and continental dominance, not golf-clapping a rival program.

It’s got nothing do with xenophobia or politics or Donald Trump or brown people or the border wall or anything like that, it’s just identifying a sporting rival as such. Plus, it’s not like the USMNT is comprised solely of pasty white guys from Ohio; there are German-Americans and Mexican-Americans and the son of the Liberian president currently playing on the squad. It’s always been an amalgam of different backgrounds and cultures, which reflects a country of immigrants. Think of the contributions made by guys like Tab Ramos and Marcelo Balboa and Earnie Stewart.

But you see a lot stuff floating around out there suggesting that Americans should maybe rally for Mexico since they’re popular in the United States and they’re our neighbors or whatever. FOX and their media partners are spending a lot of time talking about El Tri. They play most of their games here and draw crazy crowds. That’s nice, I guess, but who cares? We want home field advantage in our own country, not 80,000 Mexicans booing us in Houston. We should be actively trying to change that for the good of the program, not saying, “hey wow that’s a cool story, they love their soccer.”

It’s like this; does USF cheer for FSU because of Florida pride? No. You want to be the state’s best college football team, not some passive cheerleader for a geographic opponent. You fight for recruits and bragging rights and trophies. Flyers fans don’t cheer for the Penguins because both teams play in Pennsylvania, they want the Pens to get obliterated by the Capitals, and vice versa. If you went to Penn State, you probably befriended Steeler fans but only pulled for Ben Roethlisberger when he played against Tom Brady.

FOX obviously would benefit from the “pay attention to Mexico” angle for ratings purposes. They paid $400 million for the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and were dealt a shitty hand when the U.S. bombed out of qualifying, so they’re hoping the country’s huge Mexican/American population will bolster numbers. I don’t blame them at all for pumping up Mexico in a battle with Telemundo for bilingual viewers. When the U.S. flubbed it, FOX had to change course from a business approach, so here we are. You can’t promote team USA, so you look for alternatives, and El Tri makes the most sense.

That’s not to say that FOX or Sports Illustrated is forcing you to cheer for Mexico, because I don’t think they are. It’s more of a, “we’re going to inundate you with Mexico stories and angles,” which is a natural turn off to the loyal USMNT fan. That’s why you’re seeing pushback with the SI cover and plethora of El Tri-focused articles. 

For what it’s worth, 2014 ratings were off the chart for the United States games, which pulled the following: 

  • vs. Belgium (July 1, 2014): 16.5 million
  • vs. Germany (June 26, 2014): 10.8 million
  • vs. Portugal (June 22, 2014): 18.2 million
  • vs. Ghana (June 17, 2014): 11.1 million

Those are monstrous numbers that can’t be replicated this year. You’re not getting that for Russia vs. Saudi Arabia next Thursday. The most realistic/best case scenario is that Mexico scrapes a draw against Germany in their opener and positions themselves to get out of the group in second place, setting up a knockout round clash against Brazil. That gets you a ton of eyeballs.

And of course you should want the FOX broadcasts to be successful. Anytime anybody puts money into soccer, you want solid returns, returns that make them invest more in the product in the future. You don’t want this to fail. Strong TV deals are the backbone of any sports competition and one of the biggest hurdles facing MLS specifically. It’s all about $$$, so at the very least just turn on the TV and walk away.

At the end of the day we should certainly respect Mexico as a historic rival. We should acknowledge the common threads between our countries. And we should hope they get their asses kicked.

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23 Responses

  1. I won’t be cheering for soccer either.
    Those head shots kill people with CTE
    and the sandbagging flops players do don’t help.
    Soccer sucks!
    Arena Football is where its AT!

  2. I picked Sunderland as my EPL team years ago and I’ve stuck by those fuckers even through this shitty season of Championship demotion and will continue to. I only haven’t been to Wearside because I can’t afford it, but I picked my shit team back when they were bummers and everyone was jumping on the Man City, Everyone and Tottenham bandwagons. Take those frontrunners away but let me keep my awful League One team.

  3. I’m a Mexican dude and am rooting for Mexico and i love your take on this because i feel exactly the same way about the U.S. team

  4. I think you’re getting your wish, they will get their ass kicked by Germany, Sweeden and maybe draw with S Korea. Osorio is a fucking idiot, i hope the U.S. hires him after Mex fires his ass.

    1. lose to Germany
      draw with Sweden
      win vs South Korea

      4 pts, 2nd place in group, lose to Brazil 3-0 in knockout rounds

  5. Ya’ll won’t be cheering, y’all be watching the game?
    Lol ok…well que chingue a su Madre el America!!

  6. Hey Kincaid..who needs racist rednecks cheering for Mexico. We got our fans. We don’t need no trump motherfuckers supporting us ..who needs ya. Y’all can sit back drink some Budweiser, watch Roseanne . Cause Mexico is in the world…peace out bitches

  7. Mexico and USA are not rivals. People like you had make us seen it that way to make a profit out of it. And if you won’t be cheating for Mexico, I’m pretty sure you’ll be watching the world cup with a Corona in your hand and a carne asada burrito in the other. But above all, win or loss VIVA CONCACAF.

    1. ¿lucro? nah hombre, se trata de hacer crecer el deporte en este país y competir con México y dar pasos adelante, no hay nada falso sobre el dinero

  8. Wtf did I just read? Pendejo saying its not about trump or brown people really you ignorant prick!!! You should give credit when credit is do. Let me ask you this would you have wrote the same article if Fox where trying to make Mexicans cheer for USA? F NO DO YOU THINK THERE WOULD BE A MEXICAN WRITING AN ARTICLE LIKE THIS F N THIS IS REALLY POOR SPORTSMANSHIP AND TO EVEN ALLOW THIS DUMB CLOSE MINDED INDIVIDUAL TO POST HIS ARTICLE FRONT PAGE FIRST STORY TO SEE. SMFH ILL WILL END IT LIKE THIS…. A LA BIN A LA BON A LA BIN BON BAN MEXICO MEXICO RA RA RA!!!! SI SE PUEDE !!!!!!! VAMOS TRI!!!!! BROWN -N-PROUD!!!!!! THIS IS FOR THE RAZA!!!!!! EL TRI!!!!! DON’T BE DOWN BE SUPPORTIVE TO THE BROWN !!!!!!

    1. ¿Puedes leer? Escribí un párrafo completo explicando por qué no se trata de Trump, del muro o de la gente morena. Por su lógica, obviamente odio a todos los mexicano-americanos que juegan para Estados Unidos, como Jorge Villafana y Joe Corona y Jesse González. Por favor. Consigue una vida pendejo

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