Fútbol in the Empire of the Sun
Why does El Tri act like pendejos every time the U.S. men’s national soccer team kicks their ass? They won’t even shake hands or exchange jerseys after the game, and they always act like the U.S. got lucky with the win, even though the Americans have destroyed Mexico on the pitch this century. I’d be pretty pissed if I gave up a goal to überpussy Landon Donovan, too, but is there really any need to act like such poor losers after a friendly match?
—El Gabacho Gordo
Do professional soccer players in Mexico take acting lessons? Or is diving to the ground, clutching head/knee/ankle and writhing in agony after an opposing player brushes by them just a natural ability? A recent Mexican soccer league match I saw had more Oscar-level performances than the Academy Awards.
—Manchester United Fan Furious at Unnecessary Gyrations
Why aren’t there more Mexican-Americans on the U.S. soccer team? Should Obama create a provision in his guest worker bill allowing Mexican soccer players to join the U.S. team? Ideas?
I have a 7-month-old baby boy who is half-Mexican. When we go to a U.S.-Mexico soccer game, what side should he sit on?
—Father of a MexiCAN
Finally, the día Mexicans across Aztlán have waited for is upon nosotros: August 12, the day the United States’ soccer team faces Mexico’s squad at Mexico City’s desmadre of a stadium called Estadio Azteca. The game is a must-win for both teams, and not just because it’s a crucial World Cup qualifying match. Uncle Sam’s Army has never won a fútbol game in the Empire of the Sun, while El Tri (the nickname for Mexico’s side, based on the country’s tricolored flag) must win lest they unleash the worst intra-Mexican backlash since the Cristero revolt. So much to discuss, so hay que.
Gordo: The only bigger insult to Mexicans than to lose in soccer to the yanquis is to let Guatemalans beat them, so I understand why El Tri are sore losers—and Donovan is totally not a pussy. Man U Fan: No mames. Soccer has more divas per capita than any sport—I agree Mexican soccer players flop like Carlos Mencia’s movie career, but Italians are the reincarnations of Katharine Hepburn, John Ford and Laurence Olivier rolled into one boring squad. Pinche: give young wabs a decade or so before they fully plug into the U.S. national soccer program; as it stands, most grew up rooting and breathing Mexican professional and national soccer and can’t imagine siding with anyone else. Finally, MexiCAN papi: I’m glad you feel conflicted. For years, the knee-jerk reaction for Mexican-Americans was to root for El Tri at all times. But with them stuck in underachievement and the United States ascendant, I guarantee more Mexis will start rooting for the United States—and that’s perfectly fine.
As for the Mexican? I’ve long rooted for the American soccer squad since they’ve historically been the Mexicans of CONCACAF (the acronym for the federation governing soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean). But the United States is now the region’s dominant power, while El Tri is finally acting like Mexicans. I think a U.S. victory is a perfect psychological embarrassment to whip the Mexican side into shape for the World Cup next year. At the same time, a Mexican victory will bring out the most jingoistic tendencies of Mexicans, leading to angry Know Nothings—and isn’t that the ultimate victory? Then again, what fun is there in taking a side in this most fundamental of issues for Mexicans? Let’s get everyone pissed: 0-0 tie.
¡ASK A MEXICAN BOOK CONTEST! In 25 words or less, tell me your favorite local Mexican restaurant and what makes it so bueno. I’ll soon be traveling ’round los Estados Unidos on my trusty burro to research my upcoming book on the history of Mexican food in the United States, and I need places to haunt and cacti to sleep under. One entry per person, one winner per paper, five winners total for areas that don’t carry my column, and contest ends when I say so!