Play On Playa: Meet The Latinos On The US National Soccer Team

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Someone put the curandera on speed dial because World Cup Fever is about to smack us upside the head this Wednesday. That’s the day that six CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) teams will meet for the first game of the final round of World Cup qualifying matches, also known as “the hexagonal.” Mexico will take on Jamaica, Panama hosts Costa Rica while the United States flies south to San Pedro Sula for their game against Honduras.

US coach Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled the team’s lineup yesterday and it features a number of Latinos on the squad in every position except goalkeeper.


Carlos Bocanegra

Raíces: Born in Upland, raised in Alta Loma (now Rancho Cucamonga), CA
Heritage: 2nd, possibly 3rd, generation pocho via his father Current team: Racing De Santander
Nicknames: The Jackal, Captain America.
Bocanegra has been the captain of the US National team since 2007 and it’s not just because of his good looks (he was in ESPN’s Body Issue 2012 and voted one of E Channel’s Sexiest Athletes).
Blackmouth has excelled in his time in MLS (Chicago Fire), the Premier League (Fulham FC ), France’s Ligue 1 (Stade Rennais F.C., AS Saint- Étienne), the Scottish Premier League (Rangers F.C., that Hun bastard!) and at his current home in Spain’s Liga Adelante with Racing De Santander. He is also a self-proclaimed burrito aficionado who found great Mexican food in Glasgow at Pinto’s but failed to provide a helpful comparison. Is it King Taco good? Chipotle good? Tacos Mexico good? Also, he called it “guack.”

Edgar Castillo

Raíces: Las Cruces, NM
Heritage: Both parents are Mexican citizens Current Team: Club Tijuana
Nickname: El Homie, El Gringo, El Pocho
Castillo made his debut in Santos Laguna and is currently a member of Liga MX championship team Club Tijuana. He may be a Xolo but he’s certainly not a cholo, though his shaved head and countless arm-tattoos say otherwise, hence the name El Homie. Castillo played a few games with Mexico’s national team beginning in 2007 after a personal phone call from living legend Hugo Sanchez. He missed his last two call-ups with El Tri in 2009 because he lost his passport (¿en serio, Homie?) and was unable to fly out to either match. Months later, he took advantage of his dual citizenship and switched over to the US team in 2009, a one-time move allowed within FIFA rules. Paging Benedict Arnold!

Omar Gonzalez

Raíces: Dallas, TX
Heritage: Mexican-American Dual National (that means he has TWO passports! Paging Special Agent Chingon!)
Current Team: LA Galaxy
We man-crushed on Gonzalez two months ago after he helped lead the LA Galaxy to a 3 – 1 win over the Houston Dynamo at last year’s MLS final. He also racked up a few awards last year despite missing out on half the season thanks to a torn ACL. I quickly discovered that trying to find a “scoop” or “dirt” on Gonzalez is like running a background check on Mother Teresa. It’s cleaner than the FBI file on a newborn baby! He’s a respectable guy in every sense of the word. Case in point: he tweeted a photo of the Chanel purse he bought his girlfriend as one of those “just because” gifts. It’s a good thing there’s only one of him both on and off the field. One of him is enough competition the rest of us need.


Jose Francisco Torres

Raíces: Longview, TX
Heritage: His jefe is Mexicano
Current Team: Tigres UANL
Nickname: El Gringo
Torres was on the fence about playing for El Tri or the US until former US assistant coach Piotr Nowak decided for him. Other than that, there isn’t anything too interesting about this cüate besides his bromance with teammate and former roommate Clint Dempsey. Dempsey and Torres are Kermit and Fozzy, Beavis and Butthead, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, Batman and Robin, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. In this case, they’re Davy Crockett (Torres once rocked a mullet that looked like a raccoon cap) and Onion Rings (because of the rings around Dempsey’s eyes). If this were the NFL, they’d be the pair of Brohams who rub each other’s biceps and slap each other’s butts every chance they’d get.


Herculez Gomez

Raíces: Los Angeles, CA
Heritage: His parents are from Jalisco, Mexico
Current Team: Santos Laguna
It’s been a long way to the top for striker Herculez Gomez. Herc spent years playing in lower-tier teams and leagues in the US. The few times he made it the major leagues, including the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids, were cut short due to injury or by coaches who urged him to quit football altogether despite his great work on the field. Nowadays, he shares the field with Olympic Gold medalist Oribe Peralta at Santos Laguna. He was namedropped by Senator Harry Reid who congratulated him on the Senate floor when he made the 2010 World Cup team. He also spends his free time driving around Torreon in a black Audi SUV (no word on whether he’s naco-fied it with patriotic rims), which he uses to pick his friends such as a certain Miss Coahuila 2009 finalist. I bet he bumps “El Rey” by Vicente Fernandez after a long day and/or night. Hey, he works hard, he plays hard. I know I would!