USMNT, Mexico rivalry revolves around family, food, and fun for players with shared allegiances


It’s been a decade, but David Ochoa can still imagine the details of the scene in his head.

“I remember it perfectly,” said Ochoa, a 20-year-old Real Salt Lake goalkeeper of Major League Soccer. “It is a roast meat and all of my cousins ​​are there, all of my uncles and aunts are there. My aunts make beans and rice in the kitchen while my uncles sit at the grill. “

– ESPN + viewer guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more (USA)
– Stream ESPN FC daily on ESPN + (US only)
– Don’t you have ESPN? Get instant access

His family members have already gathered for a USA versus Mexico game: the 2011 Gold Cup final. The game begins with Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan putting the Americans in front with two goals, but El Tri is half equal and in the 50th minute in the lead. “When he scores that goal, everyone gets up and screams and celebrates,” Ochoa continues. “It’s just total joy.”

Of course, “that goal” is Giovani dos Santos’ chip, one of the best goals in the history of CONCACAF’s best rivalry, which adds a nice cherry on top of the 4-2 win.

The scene that Ochoa paints is known to thousands of Mexican-Americans. Soundtrack most weekends. Games between the USA and Mexico, such as the World Cup qualifier in Cincinnati on Friday – Stream LIVE at 9 p.m. ET, ESPN + – were always special occasions.

“Growing up wasn’t what it is now, where you can watch every single game you want on TV or stream. We used to only get a certain number of games,” said Rodrigo Lopez. a midfielder for USL Championship Team Rio Grande Valley FC, who was born in Guadalajara and raised in California. “We’d definitely go to these Mexico games, everyone would meet at my house or with my father’s friends to watch the game and have a barbecue.”

Preparation for such an important game “starts early,” said Edwin Cerrillo, a Dallas FC midfielder who grew up in a household of Club America fans in Waco, Texas. “When the game is at 7 o’clock, people will be at home by noon and my mother is already cooking some things that go with it [meat].

“We brought an extension cord and took our TV outside because our living room was very small, so we all looked at each other in the garden. Everyone cheers, eats, the kids watch the game big deal. “

The food offerings are regionally similar: players remember their families roast meat together, typically with rice and beans with the beef. One of the most important elements is the salsa – sometimes store-bought, but better if it’s homemade. The question “is that hot?” determines how much is tossed on the meat garnished with onions and coriander.

Botanas – Take away snacks during the game – including peanuts and chicharron. Aunts and uncles drank beer. After that, they recall, there is no rush to go home, especially on weekends, as conversations about the game continue well into the night.

There is usually little disagreement about choosing a rooted interest as families choose Mexico, although this has gotten complicated as players progress in their careers.

“Before Ricardo made his US debut, we were in a Mexican environment – how we lived and enjoyed the game as a Mexican family. Mexico vs. USA games were important when we were growing up, but we always supported. ” El Tri“, Said Daniel Pepi, the father of 18-year-old US striker Ricardo Pepi, who comes from El Paso and decided to work in the USA at the beginning of the year and has already scored three goals in World Cup qualifying.

“Now it’s very different. We still support Mexico and see it as a country with great football, but now we support the United States 100% and we’ve put away the Mexico shirt. I can’t tell you how I’m going to feel (Friday) because this is new to me. “

While Pepi wears the Stars and Stripes, Ochoa announced his decision to represent Mexico earlier this year, which means his family can continue to don the green shirt from El Tri how they sit in front of the television, although it is not always that easy.

The fandom that often surrounds rivalry can spill over from friendly to dirty, with allegations of frequent dirty gaming and trash talk, both online and in person, that all too often cross the line. The Mexican-American players and their families still care deeply about their team, but not only do they value the team they play in or who they support, but also the other side.

“California in particular has a lot of people like me and it’s hard to stay out of the culture,” Ochoa said. “I’m with Mexico of course and I definitely want Mexico to win this upcoming game, but at the same time I’m grateful for what the US has given me, the opportunities they have given me with the youth teams on the football side.

“It’s definitely going to be strange for me this time as I know players from both sides.”

These friendships and a developing career can begin to steer passions in a different direction.

“I cheered on Mexico and then I got called up to the US U-18 and U-20 so I started cheering for the US and playing a little against my family, but it’s always a game,” said Lopez. “I’m not really going for anyone now. I’m just trying to enjoy the game. I have friends on both teams and it’s hard to choose which side.”

In a way, the players told me, it reflects the Mexican-American experience. Family members and the community enjoy the joy and pride of the connection to their Mexican roots, while neighbors or teammates may be amazed when a player who has developed in the USA supports or even represents the country’s greatest rival.

“You have to be grateful, and I will always love this country – when both hymns sound out, I sing both of them. I love both countries, ”said Ochoa.

No matter which anthem (s) they sing, which jersey players they wear or how the game develops on Friday, the constant remains: For Mexican-American players, Mexico-US games are all about food, football and, above all, family.

Source link


Leave A Reply