My first recollection of a World Cup was when it was held in Mexico in 1986. I won't date myself by revealing my age, but I will say that I was old enough remember my grandfather and step-grandmother having these really cool containers with the Mexican flag on them and the World Cup logo. Both of them lived in Mexico, but they came to visit us in upstate New York and brought the containers. At least, that's how I remember the story. Back then there was little if any interest in futbol (soccer) in the U.S.A. My father loved it and played it recreationally in a league but beyond that and hearing it on the TV at home, I'm afraid we all had little exposure to soccer outside of our home, since it wasn't a big thing in the U.S.
A lot has changed since 1986. In the last 24 years (my goodness, it really has been 24 years!) soccer has become mainstream. Soccer moms are a political staple and the U.S. has become a world class team. So begins the story of why I am rooting for the U.S.A. In a previous post, I simplified my allegiance by saying that I was rooting for team U.S.A. because I was born here. That is true. However, it goes a bit deeper than that. When I say that I am rooting for the team because I was born here, what I am really saying is that I am rooting for the team because:
- As a second generation, I am thrilled to see soccer become mainstream in the U.S. My fiance grew up watching football at home and so loves football. I grew up watching futbol at home and so love futbol (soccer). Back in the day, I was often alone and misunderstood in this love. It is gratifying now to see the throngs of U.S. fans packing the pubs in this country to watch team U.S.A. play. It is great to be able to share with my U.S. compatriots my love of the game and to celebrate with them.
- My parents, who emigrated from Guatemala and Mexico instilled in me a strong pride and love for this country. They believe in and feel that they lived the "American dream" and have imparted to their daughters a deep honor of this idea -- the idea that this is a country where people can fulfill a life that they dream of as possible. Sociopolitically I know that the reality is much more complex. However, at a visceral level I still believe profoundly in the singularity of this nation as it relates to that ideal that we call the American dream. I am proud of being an American (a daughter from the Americas in general, and from the U.S. in particular) and as such I am proud of the team that represents the U.S. on the World Cup field. As Univision's commercial so aptly puts it, while each of us root for our countries of origin/our ancestors countries of origin, we Latin American immigrants and the children of said immigrants all root for the U.S.A.
- This year's team embodies many of the characteristics I most value in the U.S. culture. They are like Woody in Toy Story 3. **spoiler alert** Like some of the other characters say, "The thing that makes Woody special is he'll never give up on you, ever." Team U.S.A. doesn't give up on each other, ever. They play with heart and soul and never give up. They persevere in the face of adversity, and despite being a very young team, they have the spunk to go for and achieve phenomenal results.
- The team is excellent. We have amazing players and though we have some clear stars, it is a team of gifted athletes. If anyone had any questions about the level of the U.S. team's skill, I think that after Wednesday's game those questions have been put to rest. As I said before, the team is excellent.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I am rooting for team U.S.A. and why I will be glued to the television on Saturday, crossing my fingers, praying, lighting velitas, tweeting and hoping that we advance. Like Buzz Lightyear says, "To the moon and beyond!" If Buzz Lightyear can dream (in English and Spanish) why not, team U.S.A.!
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