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Monday, June 27, 2011

Border War!

Tim Howard is mad, the goalkeeper for the U.S. National Soccer squad was livid following their loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final (4-2 after jumping out to a 2-0 advantage) He wasn't angry over his poor play in goal, nor was he angry at how his mates plodded up and down the pitch after Mexico tied the match at 2-2. Howard was angry because the post-game ceremonies were conducted in Spanish.
It may seem that Tim Howard's best days are behind him (as was the ball...four times) Howard is not prone to show tact or class in these situations, he has a long legacy of baiting opponents and their fans. Which is why Mexican fans, who know him well, greeted him with a loud chorus of "Culo" (Asshole) every time he touched the ball.
Whenever Mexico plays in Los Angeles or anywhere in the Southwest (even Chicago is considered home turf for the Mexican squad) it turns into a home game for them. For this reason games of importance like World Cup qualifiers are held at eastern venues.  The Gold Cup finals are not that important, filling the stadium and making some cash, means giving up the home field advantage.

I think I know where Tim is coming from. Everybody remembers Radio Raheem from Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" and his crude admonishment to the poor Korean shopkeeper: "Speak English Motherfucker" Who hasn't repeated that line or heard someone repeat it? It has become a rally cry for proving how American you are, it affects everyone, African Americans, Whites and Hispanics. Does Tim Howard feel a need to prove that he is 100% American? Or is he an English First devotee, out to fight the good fight in the name of Shakespeare. 

For a long time soccer in this country was the sport of rich europhiles, over the years it has changed, but those elitist roots are still evident. The U.S. soccer squad turns into the Ugly Americans whenever things go against them, and in international soccer, the Americans have long been the whipping boy. When asked why he was rooting against the U.S. squad, a Mexican fan, born in the U.S.A. replied: "We're not booing the country, we're booing the team" to which he added "There is a difference"  Which is to say that the American team is not very likeable, historically the U.S. squad has never been one that Hispanic Americans can warm up to.

Some of it goes back to the Bruce Arena era, who instilled in his squads an anti-Latino bias that still seems to linger. Bruce Arena reminded American players that Mexico always stands in line behind America. The players bought into it and went out and dominated the Mexican team for the duration of Arena's stay. This resulted in a shell shocked generation of Mexican players who were ridiculed for being afraid of "Los Gringos" The low point of that era was Mexico's 2-0 loss to the U.S. in the 2002 World Cup quarter finals.
The new generation of Mexican players is not afraid of the USA nor are Canada, Panama, Jamaica etc. Once that tide has turned, as the Mexicans found out, it's hard to reverse it. Eventually, you can turn it around, I would say bring back Bruce Arena, but he burned his bridges on the way out. Arena was the best coach the U.S. ever had, the one person who could've taken them to the next level. Bruce however proved to be boorish, racist and vulgar (when he wasn't acting totally bored, he would pick his teeth on camera and spit gigantic loogies onto the pitch) 

Arena's biggest mistake was sticking the U.S. team with a boring style that mimicked the Euros. He refused to incorporate any elements of the Latin game, even though that style was dominating the world scene. Bob Bradley has stuck to the same formula with mixed results. Is it his fault that the U.S. Men's team still seems to be spinning its wheels?. No! he's made lemonade out of lemons, albeit without having much sugar to work with. This is a very ordinary group of players that Bradley has built his squad with, but the pool to draw from is stocked with less than stellar futbolistas.

Don't believe the hype, most Mexican-Americans are staunchly pro-American, some just prefer to root for a different team. And that's what it's all about in America, freedom of choice. Dodger-Giants, Raiders-Chargers, you pick your side and you don't have to explain your choice to anyone.

1 comment:

  1. Do the right thing vote for pedro.... no not really go mexican fotbol mens, womens, under 17, I root for winners. Go Dodgers even in their bankrupcy hopefully Marc Cuban saves them from the bowles of the MLB. Go USA womans team for putting together greatness and having the hottest goalie in the world. Americans should realize that untill they give a hundred percent to the game they'll get half ass results. Stick to what your good at football, and basketball, ok and some baseball greatness comes from hard work america isn't ready to do fotbol. Twenty mother#%=&# twenty. Don't call me beaner pinche gringo