In any World Cup, I would be rooting for nuestros vecinos in the first round.
This time around, that means Panama and Costa Rica and Mexico, plus Colombia, which is not in our federation, but surely part of our world.
Mexico had a memorable opening match on Sunday, scoring early and holding on for a 1-0 victory over Germany, the defending champions. On the television, I saw a throng of green-shirted fans, from the large comfortable class of that complicated North American nation, rooting for the spirited, well-coached Mexican squad to round out the upset.
The knockout rounds will take care of themselves. The old champs are always with us, or usually.
I have a strong feeling for the players from the Americas who resemble guys who live and work in my suburb outside New York, whose sons and daughters are going to school with my grandkids – plus, I think about my late doctor, Ken Ewing, former defender and captain of Guatemala back in the day.
Plus, these are not normal circumstances.
Not since I witnessed the President of the United States rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of building a wall, and holding children hostage to his scheme.
Not since I witnessed the garden-gnome of an attorney general quoting the Bible to justify ripping infants away from the breast of their mothers, to teach those people a lesson.
I am rooting for my neighbors because I am ashamed of the way the current rulers of my country are using them as instruments of prejudice and retribution.
The squads from Mexico and Central America and the Caribbean do not normally need extra motivation against the U.S. They come to every match with jaws out, eyes glaring, as if they were making up for the cruelty of the major fruit companies, or the invasions in the Mexican-American war, or Landon Donovan urinating on a bush during a practice session.
Mexico keeps qualifying for the World Cup – FIFA has a generous quota for qualifiers from the region – but does not fare well in the knockout rounds. The Yanks humbled El Tri, dos a cero, in the round of 16 in 2002 and Mexico has never quite regained its swagger in that rivalry.
For this World Cup, the U.S. has backslid right out of the field. Panama will play Belgium (my long-range hope to win it all) on Monday -- a tug of rival loyalties. On Sunday Costa Rica lost to Serbia, and later Mexico held steady against a Germany team that seemed to regard the match as a tuneup.
What a sight in the end: the mobile keeper, Manuel Neuer, roaming upfield to join the desperate scrum for one extra head or foot on a stray ball, which never happened.
The success by El Tri in far-off Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow will not affect the hardened heart of the cruel pharaoh. Little brown children remain separated from their parents.
Not that it helps, but until further notice I am rooting for mis vecinos to keep going.
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(Enjoy the great Andres Cantor calling the goal by Hirving Lozano. Watch how Lozano evades Mesut Ozil at the end of a stunning counter-attack. Golllllllll!)
6/17/2018 06:33:45 pm
A delightful piece about a delightful Mexican win. With the US and Italy not qualifying, I happened on Mexico, because like FDR and Jack Kennedy, I am a good neighbor!
6/17/2018 09:54:35 pm
how about leaving the Trump Derangement Syndrome nonsense out of your soccer postings. Want to rant about the current administration then do a politics blog
6/17/2018 09:56:32 pm
my blog, dude
6/18/2018 04:23:14 pm
6/18/2018 07:37:50 am
Is the World Cup about sport or politics? It certainly has a healthy dose of corruption, which seems to infect both. This latest entry makes me uncomfortable. Very. It fuels my concerns that the tribal passions enflamed by ersatz “nationality-based” teams may not be best for the sport, or its fans. It also pretty much erases a lot of kindly thoughts I’ve recently been encouraged to have concerning the current structure of FIFA competition.
6/18/2018 09:42:56 am
Brian, thanks for the entry. I gave a perhaps too-terse response to the previous comment, but should have used you as a reference as somebody who comes back at me with a different point of view. That's what it's for....
6/18/2018 08:31:38 pm
George, you've always got a good point, and do now. But let me press a bit. A sport that is politically organized (here along country lines) is inviting, and naturally going to encourage, political commentary, as your initiating blog here. That makes the sport subservient to the political. I don't see that as good for the sport, or the fans. It may work in a sport of limited self-selected participating countries,, such as rugby. There you have truly nation-built teams that play international competition among themselves. But in a world wide sport, it's a different kettle of fish. The have nots have little chance of competing with the haves if the team recruitment is limited. That is why Masayoshi Son's concept of professional team competition on the world stage superimposed over so-called "national" competition makes loads of sense to me. It also avoids the ugliness of using the sport as a weapon in political dialogue. I could go on a long time on this, but enough.
6/18/2018 08:13:54 am
My heart is with Mexico!! Thanks for all of your coverage!
6/18/2018 11:35:20 am
I have been a fan of Mexicans since Sandi and I honeymooned there for three weeks in 1961. I learned from the guide book on the plane down that they are always willing to help and never want to disappoint anyone.
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.