Pocho Heartache: Mexico loses to the US in El Estadio Azteca
I started writing this blog back in 2009. My first post, “Why I root for El Tri: an Exploration of Pocho Mexican Nationalism,” narrated the experience of watching Mexico barely beat the United States in Mexico City. Like most Mexico-US games, that one was filled with its dose of heartache and stress. Soccer is one of the few things in Mexico that gets embedded with so much meaning. It’s as if it was Mexico’s last stance against the encroaching United States. As if it’s the only bragging rights Mexico has left in US-Mexico relations.
Looking back on 2009, it makes sense that my first post would not just narrate the game, but use soccer as venue to explore “pocho nationalism,” belonging outside of the nation-state. So when Mexico lost at El Estadio Azteca I was caught of guard. Shit, I didn’t even watch the game. I was at the park playing a 4 on 4 pick-up game with some Mexicanos. It was clear they saw the game, but I don’t recall them mentioning who won. There were just a few scattered jokes: every time someone missed a clear opportunity someone would call them “Chicharito.” I can’t even say I wanted to watch the game. After so many years of watching Mexico play I only really care about the World Cup. Olympics, friendlies, international tournaments, they don’t really matter. The World Cup matters and teams that matter win it. It’s that simple. You think Brazil is sweating losing in a friendly? Nah. hell nah.
This lose is historic, this is true. Mexico’s 75 year winning streak in the Azteca is gone. To give it the drama and heartache Mexicans love the goal was scored by a Mexican-American. Mexican-Americans have long been caught in an awkward position: do they play for the US or Mexico? Professor Alamillo research shows that Mexican Americans in Los Angeles played for the Mexican national team in the 1938 Los Angeles Olympics. Imagine that, the entire Mexican pueblo in Los Angeles rooting for Mexico (and you). While soccer in the US continues to privilege middle-class and elite families—it cost a good amount of money to play at the most elite levels—we are seeing more and more Mexican Americans play for the US national team. The documentary Gringos at the Gate (coming out this September) is sure to provide some great insight. High profile players from both national teams are interviewed. But what about us, the fans? What are we to do? As more and more Mexican Americans play for the US national team our position becomes that much more complicated. Maybe we can continue to root for the Mexican national team, while hoping that Mexican Americans players play well… just not well enough to beat Mexico in the Aztec.