If your team is not one of the 32 participating in the World Cup, then tuning in to the tournament can suck. The US didn’t secure a ticket to the biggest party in soccer, which means many people may find themselves without a team to root for. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the tournament and loan your support until the red, white, and blue return to the world stage.
So, who to follow? Before you consider the usual suspects like Germany, Brazil, and Argentina, think of a much closer, and familiar, candidate: Mexico. Here are 10 reasons to cheer for El Tri.
El Tri's coach has connections to the US.
Juan Carlos Osorio looks on during the Confederations Cup Semi-Final between Germany and Mexico at Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images.
Juan Carlos Osorio is a well-known name for many US soccer fans. In 2007, when the Chicago Fire toiled at the bottom of the standings, he became the manager and led the team to the playoffs. He also coached the New York Red Bulls and has said many times he’d love to return to coach on the US. He’s also a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in exercise science.
Some of its biggest stars play for MLS teams.
If you’re an LA Galaxy fan, you know the Dos Santos brothers. And if you’re not, then you may have seen their skills. Giovani and Jonathan have delighted fans with their contributions since their arrivals in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Along with Carlos Vela – who plays for Los Angeles FC – they are key pieces on Mexico’s offense. Their success would reflect well on the MLS.
It's the only North American team in the competition.
Miguel Layun is swarmed by his teammates after scoring a goal in the first half against the US during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier at MAPFRE Stadium on November 11, 2016. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
With the US out of the tournament and Canada still years away from being a competitive team (sorry Canadian fans!), Mexico is the only team from the continent in the competition. Represent!
Mexico already has millions of fans in the US.
Mexico fans cheer during the team’s exhibition match against Iceland at Sam Boyd Stadium on February 8, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mexico won 1-0. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Outside of the borders of Mexico, El Tri can also feel at home in the US. El Tri regularly plays three or four sold out games every year on US soil. The average attendance to its games can range between 40,000 and 60,000 spectators – more than many other teams. For many first and second-generation Americans, the Mexican team is part of their heritage and culture, and they follow it with the same passion as Team USA.
The parties will be fun.
Rafael Marquez (center) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Croatia and Mexico at Arena Pernambuco on June 23, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images.
The World Cup is a special occasion for Mexican fans. Beer, food, and music are never absent from the games, and although most games will be played in the morning for US-based viewers, the fans will find a way to turn up.
It's good for the economy.
Not qualifying for the World Cup has been a disaster for the US sponsors, broadcasters, and businesses that counted on “World Cup Fever” to increase their sales. Because of its big audiences, the Mexican games will help alleviate that hit, and the further Mexico advances, the better. And though you may not care about how it affects corporate entities, it should also be good for local bars that also count on an increase in visitors during the month-long tournament. So go ahead and pop into your favorite soccer bar to enjoy a game or two.
It will contribute to the growth of soccer in the US.
Photo by Irontrybex/Getty Images Plus
Every time there’s a World Cup, the US soccer fan base grows. But this time, without the national team on the tournament, it might be a different story. That could translate into less growth opportunities for the MLS and less sponsorships, which in turn could affect the chances of the US developing players and qualifying for future tournaments. Maintaining the level of enthusiasm for the Cup and bringing new fans to the fold would help offset that decline.
The US is partnering with Mexico and Canada for the 2026 World Cup bid.
The joint bid of the North American federations, known as the United 2026, has a decent chance of succeeding, but a strong show of support for Mexico in its first games could have an impact. The vote to decide the host will take place on June 16.
It’s the right thing to do in these times of division.
Photo by AWSeebaran/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
Although Trump and his followers have tried to paint Mexico in a negative light, our neighbors to the south contribute to the economy and culture of the US in immense ways. Supporting the team at the World Cup sends a strong message of unity.
Mexico needs all the support it can get.
Photo by chrispecoraro / E+
The Mexican team has one of the toughest groups in the World Cup. It will face Germany on its first game, and then move on to South Korea and Sweden. With a good part of the Mexican fanbase doubting the squad’s chances, El Tri needs all the support it can muster, so why not get a helping hand from its neighbors?