It’s turning out to be a good year for Mexican striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez who recently bagged a brace in Leverkusen’s 4-4 draw against Roma in the UEFA Champions League to reach 101 career goals.
Hernandez, who began his career at Chivas Guadalajara, scored 29 goals with the ‘Goats.’ The Little Pea then crossed the pond to play at Manchester United where he managed to score on 59 occasions. Last season whilst on loan with Real Madrid ‘Chicha’ managed to score 9 times despite limited playing time.
Since joining Leverkusen, this summer, Hernandez has already registered 4 goals with the German club: 1 in Bundesliga and 3 more in Champions League action. Hernandez, who has bagged 42 goals with Mexico, is four goals away from becoming the national team’s all-time goal scorer.
I wonder if Rob Schneider knows that Tigres will be playing tomorrow in the CONCACAF Champions league vs Herediano. Either way, Rob is a Tigres fan and wears the jersey proudly.
However, this reminds me of the quote from the movie, My big fat Greek Wedding:
The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.
Rob’s wife is Mexican so this is most likely the case here. This brings up an interesting topic of why are people choose to be fans of teams? Usually you would think of fans being from the city of the team, but this is not always the case. Now days, you can probably hear the term “plastics”, or fake fans, or fans because a team increases in popularity.
This is an interesting, because some say you can’t be a fan if you are not from that city and live there. Yet in Mexico and in the US, you will see many people with Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid or even Messi/Argentina jerseys, who may not have even stepped foot in the cities or countries of these teams.
If you are familiar with this blog and myself personally, you already know I went to the US vs Mexico game in Pasadena, rooting for El Tri. I posted a video documenting the experience here. I have also been to US vs Mexico games in Houston and San Antonio. The San Antonio game, I was able to hangout with Pancho Villas Army, a US based supporters group of Mexico fans.
So why do I, A US Citizen, root for Mexico? First some background. I was born in the US, my parents(both born in Mexico) taught us little Spanish and I grew up in Northern Florida, far from any “raza” to learn the culture or language from. I then spent 2 years in Mexico on a Mormon Mission. I struggled but fairly quickly learned the language. I loved the people, who I identified with, because of my heritage. I loved the food and made good friends. I dived straight into everything about Mexico. I would rarely speak English with even companions who were American.
Now before these 2 years in Mexico, I had played soccer all my life. I lived in an area that was all about American Football, specifically College Football: Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Florida, and the Miami Hurricanes. Our High School soccer coach was actually the football coach and knew little about the beautiful game. I quickly learned that we were playing “kick and run” soccer. Technical skills were lacking and for many players on our team, it was their first time playing soccer. It was a contrast to my time in Mexico where we played soccer in the streets with kids or where Church buildings, instead of basketball courts had mini cement soccer courts. The love for the game was instantly evident in Mexico and a huge difference from how it was in the States.
In the US I grew up with Frank Rikard and Van Basten posters on my wall. Roberto Baggio was one of my favorite players. Then I watched the Mexican National Team in the 94 World Cup and my love for team grew. Campos was exciting, but all this was just a flicker in my motivation for Mexican fandome. My focus during the 94 World Cup was still on the bigger teams. Fast forward to 2002, I was then married to a Veracruzana, and working for the US Air Force. I love my country, that is the US, and served it proudly. I was working in Hawaii and saw announcements at bars for the World Cup games. I began watching games and then saw a big promo for the US vs Mexico game. I was following the Mexico games, partly because there were no big following for the US games or Soccer in general. I arrived at a restaurant to watch the game along with Mexico fans. Mexicans in Hawaii, wow, thats impressive. Of course the result was a sad one, but that is where my in-depth love for the Mexican National Team and fanatazism with soccer began. I began to follow the Mexican club league, MLS, and European leagues. I took a liking to Pumas, as some of my cousins went to school at UNAM. I enjoyed Tigres as some family is also from Monterrey. Veracruz got left out in the cold, because they are just too bad. LOL.
So to get to the point, my love for the Mexican National team is not one of patriotic loyalty, or politics, but it is about the culture of Mexico, the love of the game. Its because kids grow up playing soccer in the streets or dirt fields, and not any other sport. It’s the passion of the Mexican fans. A big part as well, is the technical style of play, which is a big contrast to the “kick and run” style of soccer that I grew up playing in the US.
In Pasadena I heard a Mexican-American fan in a US jersey say, “I don’t wear a Mexico jersey, because Mexico hasn’t given me anything”. To me that has nothing to do with my reasons for supporting Mexican soccer. For me there is a seperation between sport and politics. I do not love something because it benefits me monetarily or because I think it should owe me anything. I support Mexico in soccer because it is part of my heritage, because the fans are passionate and united in its love for Futbol, and finally because I enjoy the way the game is played as opposed to the US game. The US is the country of my birth, Mexico is the country of my heritage. I would not be a fan of any other country’s team, but between the US and Mexico, my path has taken me to be a El Tri fan for life.
UEFA Boss Michel Platini still wants to succeed Sepp Blatter as Fifa president, despite serving a 90-day ban while corruption claims are investigated. In an interview with Le Monde Newspaper the 60-year old admitted that had done nothing wrong and “certainly still wants to” stand in the Fifa presidential election in February.
“It’s shameful to be dragged through the mud like this,” said Platini.
“I have been suspended for three months, but what annoys me the most is being tarred with the same brush as the others,” continued the Frenchman.
“My lawyers are following the Fifa proceedings and will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if needs be. I don’t think I have lost many votes with these scandals,” added Platini. “People who know me know that I can look myself in the mirror.”
In a candid interview with the New York Times former Manchester Untied Boss and legend Sir Alex Ferguson opened up about enjoying football and the joys of attending a La Liga match in the seventies and eighties.
“Last season. I went up to have dinner at Ronaldo’s house in Madrid. Took my son and grandson and we just went. I rung up Ronaldo and said, “Hope you’ve got three tickets for us.” He says, “Boss! Boss! of course! Of course!” But I love that. I love going to these big games in Spain.
When I was a young coach, and I used to travel and scout myself, Spanish football back in the ’70s and ’80s was more of a big event. You see these women all dressed as if they’re going to the opera. And the smell of the perfume, and the guys with the cigars smoking in the directors box. It was a fantastic atmosphere for a football game, an event. You’re going [inhales deeply], “Ohhhh, that’s fantastic.” It’s a different game today, because you have corporate boxes and things like that. It changes it a bit.”
Mexico superior in debut v Argentina
In a performance reminiscent of early 1990’s Mexican National Team, playing in Estadio Nelson Oyarzún Arenas, located about 400 KM from the Chilean Capital Santiago, the Mexican U17 squad, led by Mario Arteaga, kicked off their debut by seeing off the Miguel Lemme Argentine squad.
Goals by Mexican Winger Magaña, of C.D. Guadalajara, and a converted penalty by Mexican zaguero Venegas, of C.F. Pachuca, of in the 10th and 77th minutes.
Lemme’s men were content to cede possession and sit in their half of the pitch, absorbing pressure and looking to striker on the counter. Mexico’s first warning that this would not be an easy match with a well-place shot outside the 18 forcing the Argentine keeper Peano into a spectacular save in the 2nd minute. Argentina’s best chance in the first half came off a well placed through ball off the boot of Captain Conechny, which was flubbed by right winger Berterame 4 minutes later.
In the second half, the Argentine squad changed their tactics, pushing up their lines to press the Mexican salida, looking to win the ball in the Mexican half of the pitch and quickly transition taking advantage of the proximity of the rival goal and possible disorganization. The little albiceleste did improve their possession of the ball, but failed to create clear goal chances. No doubt this is partially due to the Argentine strikers preferring to aim for Sergio Ramos’ still orbiting Champions League penalty miss, rather than the Mexican keeper’s net.
The natural right footed winger Magaña would open the scoreline by dribbling from the left wing past 4 Argentine players and taking a well-placed shot into the first post of the Argentine keeper.
Although the final stats sheet will show Argentina with 18 shot attempts, 6 on-target, 9 off-target and 4 blocked, the Argentine squad did not threaten the Mexican keeper much. In part thanks to the hard work of the Mexican backline and mids, who snuffed out the overwhelming majority of counter attacks before they posed a bigger threat, but also due to their inability to approvech any possession they managed in the final 3rd of the pitch.
Mexico enjoyed 59% possession of the ball, created only 13 shot attempts with 6 of them on-target. The Mexican team also won the majority of 1v1 on both sides of the ball while also winning the majority of 50/50 balls and secondary balls.
Looking to motivate his squad for the forthcoming fixture, the Argentine coach Lemme remarked post game “it was a balanced game and the pace of the game was spectacular.”
Mexico’s coach Mario Arteaga remarked about his team “the team was good tactically speaking and with the quick passes and combinations we could create spaces between lines and the goals came. This win gives us confidence to go ahead”
Fourth time’s the charm for Brazilian star Neymar Jr whose four goals in Barcelona’s 5-2 victory over modest Rayo Vallecano pushed him to the top of the goalscoring charts in the Spanish First Division
With eight goals in eight league games the Brazilian international is now in front of Real Madrid duo Benzema and Ronaldo who both scored for Real earlier on in the day in their 3-0 win over Levante. This season Neymar has scored against Atlético Madrid, Levante, Celta Vigo, Sevilla and now Rayo.