As U.S. legend Landon Donovan is finding out, not everyone’s rooting for America’s biggest soccer rival just because the Yanks didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Donovan has taken a lot of heat for his "Vamos Mexico" Wells Fargo ads, with some fans and former teammates incredulous that he would cheer for El Tri and many viewing it as a disingenuous cash grab.
Wells Fargo isn’t the only company courting free-agent U.S. fans (best advertiser pitch so far, from Volkswagen: "Iceland could really use your support; we don’t have enough people to do the wave"), and Donovan certainly isn’t the only American conflicted about rooting-interest infidelity.
The U.S.'s all-time leading scorer, who spent this spring at Liga MX club Leon, responded to his critics over the weekend, gurgling some stuff about growing up in Southern California, having Mexican teammates and believing in "building bridges, not barriers," etc. Anyway, Donovan came off bad, but the whole debate was overwrought and stupid.
If you want to root for Mexico because the U.S. isn’t there, great. If you feel like the divisive political climate and current immigration issues make it all the more vital to support Mexicans, cool. If you’re like, hey, this is a sports rivalry and I’m not going to cheer for my sports archrival, especially not when my team's former hero tells me to for a bag of money, that's fine, too.
Personally, I'm pulling for Mexico, but it’s summer and it's hot out, so grab a beer and simply revel in this beautiful game.
The World Cup is a very fun sporting event. If we’re contriving to dig deeper, we could claim it promotes multiculturalism and global unity and whatever else FIFA puts on marketing materials in the hopes of convincing us the grandeur of the 2022 tournament – in tiny Qatar, in the summer, for no good reason – was worth the bribery, corruption and inhumane working conditions that created it. Point being, exercise caution making this thing out to be bigger than it is.
Mostly, the World Cup is about soccer and celebration, and being a fan is about passion and identity. And nowhere was that more on display than at Nomad Nacional during Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany on Sunday:
Now, did I use that video as an excuse to write about the Landon Donovan hullabaloo being silly and overblown? Maybe. We're all dealing with a USMNT-less World Cup in our way ways. But is Nomad Nacional a great place to watch Mexico play its World Cup games (Saturday at 10 a.m. against South Korea; June 27 at 9 a.m. against Sweden)? Definitely.
Here are some other cool places to watch soccer, too.
Go enjoy the games and try not to get mad at each other on Twitter.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.