EDGAR ZUNIGA - Friday, April 23, 2010
Wait...what is Mexico doing in the middle of the United States?

A quick geography lesson for ya: The official name of our neighbor to the south is Estados Unidos Mexicanos. This is ironic, considering how much Mexican soccer fans despise los Estados Unidos.

If you were to ask any Mexican how they feel about sharing a border with the US, they will attest that being located next to the US is both a blessing and a curse.

The politics of US-Mexico relations fuel alot of the hatred involved in the soccer rivalry. However, you have to remember that there always exists a thin line between love and hate.

And, when you start talking dollars, Mexicans change their tone. They love our dollars.

Hold on, we're not talking politics here. This is about a topic that has been simmering for quite a few years and is beginning to reach the boiling point as more US soccer fans become educated about the game and start paying attention to how other nations deal with their arch-rivals.

As you read this, Mexico is looking forward to playing several World Cup warm-up games on American soil.

Having already played games against Bolivia, New Zealand and Iceland in various American cities, Mexico also has games booked against Ecuador (Meadowlands), Senegal (Chicago) and an opponent yet to be determined (Houston).

Wherever you live in the US, sooner or later, during 2010, the Mexican team will play somewhere near you.

While it's interesting to see Mexico try to pull off their insane pre-World Cup schedule (which includes games in Europe) without crashing and burning out in the process, can you guess how many, out of 12 games, they're going to be playing at home?

Six? Four? How about two? Yes, two.

In fact, while Mexico scheduled only two games at home, they're slyly making themselves a home away from home in the US, playing six to seven matches.

Why won't Mexico play international opponents in the filth and smog of Azteca? Maybe those other teams realized what a dump it is and rejected the offer.

But what about the many other suitable stadiums across Mexico? There are a couple of really nice stadiums in Pachuca and Guadalajara.

But you know what? It really has nothing to do with the stadiums.

What do Mexicans love most about the US? In the words of Wu-Tang Clan's Method Man, "Cash rules everything around me. C.R.E.A.M. Get the money. Dollar dollar bill y'all."

That's right, it all boils down to money.

Why the hell is Mexico, our arch-rival, allowed to play wherever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want and rake in dollar bills to benefit the Mexican Football Federation (FMF)?

The FMF knows that there are millions of Mexicans living in the US and so, depending on where they play, they'll attract large crowds and be pulling in dollars instead of pesos.

It's interesting to note that the peso was the first currency in the world to use the "$" sign, which the US dollar later adopted for its own use when the US adopted the peso as currency during the period before adopting the dollar.

There's some sick irony in all this.

History lessons aside, all this makes you wonder about the relationship between the US Soccer Federation (USSF) and the FMF and why they're letting the Mexican team have the run of the land.

If you call yourself a US soccer fan and have a pulse, by this point, you should be visibly upset. Seriously, you should be angry.

How much is the USSF making out of this arrangement? What's their cut?

Do you think that the English FA would ever allow the German National Team to play friendlies all over England? What if Argentina's AFA let Brazil do the same?

For those new to soccer, this is unconceivable. Mexico playing friendlies in the US is equivalent to Ohio State University playing most of their football games in Michigan Stadium or the San Francisco Giants playing their home games at Dodger Stadium. That just doesn't happen.

If it does, it's a clear sign that the Apocalypse is upon us.

When the hell has the US ever played an exhibition game in Mexico against someone other than Mexico for the purpose of making some pesos? Never!

Not only would the Mexican fans be furious but they'd make the US feel as unwelcome as possible. You can be sure that Mexican fans would bash the FMF and question their actions.

It's also sad that the Mexican team is playing more games on American soil than the US. While Mexico enjoys their farewell tour, the US has just one more game scheduled at home before the World Cup.

Now, I can already hear the arguments in support of letting Mexico play in the US. Do they sell out the stadiums? Not entirely, but they draw more fans than the US does (which is embarrassing).

Do their fans bring in alot of revenue to the stadiums and surrounding businesses? For the most part, yes.

Is seeing Mexico play this much on American soil giving Team USA an opportunity to scout Mexico? Yeah, you can say that.

I can also hear some people out there saying that this whole argument against Mexico is adolescent and are probably asking what the big deal is with letting them play here. It's just business, right?


I can only speak for myself when I say that there is no way I'm accepting money from my worst enemy to let him come into my house and use it to throw a party with all of his best friends and make a profit out of it.

That just ain't right, folks.

It's time for US fans to stop being so gosh darn nice and become more vocal about these sort of things.

We're not talking about some insane rebellion with torches and pitchforks in front of USSF headquarters (located on Prairie Avenue, in Chicago), but there needs to be an uprising.

Fans need to let the USSF know how they feel about the Federation allowing Mexico to play "home" games on our soil and tread on our fields like they were theirs. It simply isn't acceptable!

And, in case you need a rallying cry, just remember the motto of our national team.

Don't Tread On Me.
Tuesday April 27, 2010 8:37 pm
i dont really care if Mexico plays in USA,as long the ussf is getting some money to invest in the youth. What bothers me is that USMT plays friendlies against Mexico,(mexicans players are always trying to hurt the USA players). USMT needs a real coach,Bob Bradley doesnt know how to coach and doesnt take the rivality with Mexico seriously, Mexico brings their A team even for friendly games against US,Bradley doesnt care if he brings the C or D team,and thats how MEXICO embarrasses the USMT.(gold cup 5-0)
Tuesday April 27, 2010 3:20 pm
Meadowlands, Home Depot Center, etc. are the happy ones - they will reap the profits, not so much the FMF. Darn right it's a business - stadiums just want to fill the seats, they dont care who fills them.
Monday April 26, 2010 3:09 pm
With El Tri's CONCACAF-foes increasing their level of play (Honduras, Costa Rica, and Canada), it is understandable that Mexico hosts games in the States to fund their recent costly mishaps (Hugo Sanchez/Sven Goran-Eriksson), which could have, also, lead to their failure in World Cup qualification.

First and foremost, the FMF is a business and deserves an opportunity to promote the sport to a defined target demographic. Ultimately, their US-based friendlies allowed them to amass enough funds to fire Sven and hire Vasco Aguire, a decision that reinvorgarated La selecion during the hexagonal.

Without these friendly funraisers, perhaps, El Tri would have succumbed to the pressure and not qualified. This pure-economic means afforded them the luxory that very few CONCACAF teams boast, giving them a distinct competitve advantage during qualification.

The CONCACAF balance of power has shifted in recent cycles, and Mexico does not enjoy the same dominance as it once did. The raising of the bar should bring the best out of the whole region.

Now that the USMNT has assumed the title of Gigante de CONCACAF, it now confronts a new role in its history. How will they react now that they are no longer the underdogs?

A few friendlies played in the USA won't hurt the US soccer landscape. Being fearful of our biggest opponent shows the lack of confidence that some US fans stills demonstrate.

Believe it or not Mexico is our greatest ally -- their competition/rivalry will push us to become a better soccer team and continue our acession as a futbol nation.

I am sure Mexico would like the same in return.
Monday April 26, 2010 12:00 pm
what we need to do is get the inner city involved like in Brazil and Argentina to really kick the rivalry off...soccer is stuck in its bubble in the suburbs, and not to hate on that, but the inner city is where the stars are made from around the world and the passion for the game is taking to the next level...Brazil, France, Holland, the heartbeat comes from the inner city they define the culture of the game and then the rest of the nation adopts it...just like bball here. Saying that Mexico will always run our area until we involve the inner city and suburbs. Like me I know i do not want to watch the MLS or watch it, because it doesn't relate...we need to wake up and realize its not the coaching, its the culture

Real talk
Jose Mourinho
Monday April 26, 2010 11:27 am
The more high-profile, high-attendance, high-skill soccer games in stadia across the United States the better. Such games display the real-time passion, tactics, technique, and heroism that Americans (despite where their parents were born) need to see to make lifelong fans of the game.
Charlie G.
Monday April 26, 2010 11:22 am
What's the fuss ?

While I would wish that everyone in the U.S. would support the USMNT, this is not the reality, and perhaps for the good. We obviously have a diverse soccer fan base, with many having full or split allegiances with their countries of birth. Getting our knickers in a bunch by getting upset by the Mexican National Team playing (and making money) in the U.S. just serves to divert attention from more important issues.

On the other hand, we could have some fun by putting a fee on every ticket to a Mexican National Team match that would directly fund US National Youth Teams.
Monday April 26, 2010 10:39 am
Who cares what this column said...He quoted Wu-Tang Clan! Quite possibly the best soccer article on YA ever! However, I challenge you to put an ODB line in your next article. Good Luck!
Saturday April 24, 2010 10:44 pm
As long as Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala and all the other countries that do it comply with local laws, playing friendlies in the US is a business decision for those involved, period.
However, I'm starting to believe both Mexico, and especially the US, could benefit from their domestic players (MLS,FMF) playing each other in the US.

For a while I thought the rights dispute between NBC/Telemundo and Univision would help both sides seek out other opponents, but the quality of those opponents hasn't always been that good.

USSF and FMF should think about putting some pressure on the 2 networks to come to agreement, perhaps splitting the friendlies between the 2 countries and letting Telemundo have the games in Mexico--I hear Torreon and Guadalajara have new stadiums and Univision the games in the US.
Saturday April 24, 2010 6:24 pm
Good call, people.
After the WC2010, we desperately need to organize as USMNT fans. A small but important part of carrying US soccer forward needs to be fan pressure, so the USSF and SUM don't operate like a petty dictatorship, fattening their pockets . That said, Mexico playing friendlies on US soil isn't problem #1. However, it gives FMF money and fans.
The problems above that are:
-emphasizing development over short-term winning in youth soccer
-more top US athletes dedicating to soccer
-more top US players playing in top-tier leagues
-getting world-class USMNT coaches every cycle
-extending and educating the fan base, including the health and popularity of MLS

Edgar, I'd love to see some specific analysis on whether the Mexico matches on US soil only make money for FMF and SUM, or whether USSF isn't making money from these matches too?
Tom Adams
Saturday April 24, 2010 2:24 pm
Mexicans who immigrate to the US need to embrace the US National team. It takes time, I know, but folks from other countries do. Itís part of the assimilation process into a united people. As an American it hurts to hear our US National team booed by other Americans. Bringing the Mexican National team into the US feeds that dark side of sport. The rationale is probably to promote diversity and multiculturalism which is politically in vogue now. But I think itís very wrong. It breeds racism.
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