Mexican fans celebrating, courtesy of USA Today.
Mitchell Matacia May, 9th, 2018
The Russia World Cup takes place a little over thirty days from now. The Americans were shockingly omitted after a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago last October. Many fans still feel anger towards former Head Coach Bruce Arena who had the privilege of resigning three days after the final whistle, only to rear his head a month later as an FS1 in-studio analyst for a friendly between Portugal and the United States. Other veterans like Captain Michael Bradley, carry the weight of the loss. The fateful failure will persist in the minds of USMNT supporters for years to come - and for good reason.
The new issue, however, is choosing a team to support during this World Cup. FC Cincinnati fans have experienced the limbo of fandom before their club's inception in 2015, offering allegiance to the Crew, along with a random assortment of Premiere League sides. We know the feeling of reluctantly picking a club without identifying with the corresponding region, city, or colors (black and yellow, gross).
For Cincinnati fans, the pick seems overwhelmingly German. But this doesn't seem particularly spirited as the Germans are coming off their fourth World Cup gold, poised to be a juggernaut in Russia. Many Italian-Americans reside in midwestern cities (including Cincinnati), so Italy would've been a fair bet if they qualified. Unfortunately, the US might be better off than them, as headlines called Italy's failure to compete an "apocalypse," and the New York Times compared their performance to a national disaster.
The best pick for Americans and FC Cincinnati fans alike is our fellow CONCACAF resident, and North American neighbor, Mexico. Few other teams in the world can claim millions of fans throughout the United States. El Tri has supporters in every major American city. Not to mention, Mexico vs USA has become a premier rivalry, responsible for nourishing a growing soccer culture in the States. Our tie to Mexico is apparent through the players we share including the likes of Sofia Huerta who played for Mexico Women's National Team and the United States Women's National Team. Jesse Gonzalez also played for Mexico U20 before earning a cap with the USMNT during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. And how can we forget Landon Donovan's astonishing move to Liga MX to play for Club León?
We should support Eli Tri because we're part of the same history, but more than that, we should support Mexico as a gesture of good faith. As a nation, Mexico and its people have been publicly ridiculed by prominent U.S. figures. Some threaten to divide our countries with words, with legislation, and with taller walls. When in reality, we are all fans who love the game but cheer for different teams. Maybe this year we can cheer for the same.