In Gold Cup final, it’s red, white and boo again
Mexico rallies for a 4-2 win over U.S. behind overwhelming support at Rose Bowl. In what other country would the visitors have home-field advantage?
It was imperfectly odd. It was strangely unsettling. It was uniquely American. [LA replies: That’s right out of the New York Times style book, which the rest of the liberal media has gone to school on: normalizing and celebrating that which is “strangely unsettling.”]
On a balmy early Saturday summer evening, the U.S soccer team played for a prestigious championship in a U.S. stadium … and was smothered in boos.
Its fans were vastly outnumbered. Its goalkeeper was bathed in a chanted obscenity. Even its national anthem was filled with the blowing of air horns and bouncing of beach balls.
Most of these hostile visitors didn’t live in another country. Most, in fact, were not visitors at all, many of them being U.S. residents whose lives are here but whose sporting souls remain elsewhere.
Welcome to another unveiling of that social portrait known as a U.S.-Mexico soccer match, streaked as always in deep colors of red, white, blue, green … and gray.
“I love this country, it has given me everything that I have, and I’m proud to be part of it,” said Victor Sanchez, a 37-year-old Monrovia resident wearing a Mexico jersey. “But yet, I didn’t have a choice to come here, I was born in Mexico, and that is where my heart will always be.”
On a street outside the Rose Bowl before the Gold Cup final, Sanchez was hanging out near a motor home that was hosting 17 folks—15 of whom were Mexico fans. Inside, that ratio held, there seemingly being about 80,000 Mexico fans among the announced crowd of 93,420.
This was Staples Center filled with Boston Celtics fans. This was Chavez Ravine filled with Giants jerseys. This was as weird as it was wild and, for a U.S. team that lost, 4-2, it had to be wearisome.
“Obviously … the support that Mexico has on the night like tonight makes it a home game for them,” said U.S. Coach Bob Bradley, choosing his words carefully. “It’s part of something we have to deal with on the night.”
It wasn’t just something. It was everything. I’ve never heard more consistent loud cheering for one team here, from the air horns to the “Ole” chants with each Mexico pass, all set to the soundtrack of a low throbbing roar that began in the parking lot about six hours before the game and continued long into the night.
Even when the U.S. scored the first two goals, the Mexico cheers stayed strong, perhaps inspiring El Tri to four consecutive goals against a U.S. team that seemed dazed and confused. Then when it ended, and the Mexican players had danced across the center of the field in giddy wonder while the U.S. players had staggered to the sidelines in disillusionment, the madness continued.
Because nobody left. Rather amazingly, the Mexico fans kept bouncing and cheering under headbands and sombreros, nobody moving an inch, the giant Rose Bowl jammed for a postgame trophy ceremony for perhaps the first time in its history.
And, yes, when the U.S. team was announced one final time, it was once again booed.
“We’re not booing the country, we’re booing the team,” Sanchez said. “There is a big difference.”
Mexico soccer fans have long since proven to be perhaps the greatest fans of any sports team that plays in this country, selling out venues from here to Texas to New Jersey, dwarfing something like Red Sox Nation, equaling any two SEC football fan bases combined.
But eventually, the rules for their unrequited love get tricky. Because eventually, Mexico ends up playing the U.S. team on U.S. soil. And then folks start wondering, as they surely did Saturday, is it really right for folks who live here to boo and jeer as if they don’t?
“I know, it’s strange, and when we got here, we were a little worried,” said Roy Martinez, a U.S. fan who wrapped himself in an American flag and led “USA” cheers to passing cars outside the stadium before the game. “But, you know, it works.”
It was truly strange but, in the end, it indeed worked, perhaps because there is pride in living in one of the only countries where it could work.
How many places are so diverse that it could fill football stadiums with folks whose roots are somewhere else? How many places offer such a freedom of speech that someone can display an American flag on their porch one day and cheer against the flag the next? [Emphasis added.]
I hated it, but I loved it. I was felt as if I was in a strange place, and yet I felt right at home.
Certainly, for the U.S. team, it undoubtedly stinks. But then, well, to be honest, the team stinks.
All the misguided hopes that surrounded their advancement into the second round of the 2010 World Cup—We beat Algeria, whoopee!—have come crashing down in recent lackluster play under Bradley.
If this were any other country, Bradley would have been relieved by now. But because U.S. expectations remain sadly low, he is allowed to continue guiding a team whose mistakes and missteps led to the Mexico comeback.
Long after that comeback was complete, when the stadium was finally cleared and the party had moved to the parking lot, the Rose Bowl field contained scattered patches of blue and gold celebration glitter. It was messy, and mangled, and beautiful.
Aditya B. writes:
I sent you my initial impressions regarding the soccer game, along with the Bill Plaschke column. I discussed this event with my American friends who, while disturbed, didn’t take it seriously. While I don’t associate with liberal lunatics, even the more sober Americans I spoke to regarded this as nothing more than the ethnics having a good time. Albeit in a tasteless fashion, but nothing to worry about.
They fail to realize that these ethnics are the new demographic. They, the more sober Americans I’ve spoken to, fail to realize that they themselves have been willing participants in the Establishment’s attempts to elect a new people. They fail to understand that no nation can survive when “the mystic chords of memory” fall silent.
As I said earlier, Norman Tebbit’s cricket test revealed every Indian and Pakistani’s true allegiance. Regardless of the progress they made in Blighty, “their heart remained” in India or Pakistan. The same is true of Mexican-“Americans.” Sadly, it is equally true of Indian-“Americans,” Israeli-“Americans,” Korean-“Americans,” or almost any other hyphenated “Americans” based on my personal interaction.
This state of affairs persists, perversely, because Americans think they are too powerful and too rich to care about such things. They have concluded that the Laws of Nature will be suspended for America because they happen to live here.
We are slowly moving towards an America where the young and fecund, in addition to earning less and creating less than the historical majority, feel no allegiance, or even feel deep hostility, to the culture and traditions of the historical majority.
What truly frightens me is the knowledge that every minority survives at the pleasure of the majority. I have seen this in India. I have seen horrific violence and the aftermath of majority pogroms and its aftermath. I am terrified of such violence in America where the majority AND minority population is more violent and better armed than the Indian population. The current state of affairs cannot go on. Eventually, this is burst out in a conflagration of rage and violence.
I don’t want to be pessimistic. Like any convert, I believe in America. If I didn’t, why would I give up being in the majority and being in a position of family earned power and status to be nothing more than an American citizen (I will be naturalized this year)? But I am afraid that the historical majority has embarked on a path that will lead to horror and violence. I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel but I cannot.
I read your blog because you Shine a Light. Your contributors also offer the hope that there are many who still keep the fires burning. But at this point, I don’t know if it’s enough.