Monday, June 11, 2007
Since the start of Major League Soccer, league officials have tried to lure Mexican fans. The league brought high-profile Mexican players such as Jorge Campos, Carlos Hermosillo and Luis Hernandez in as part of that initiative. The league also brought in Central Americans and players of other nationalities but until there is a FAS USA or Comunicaciones USA, the American-based Mexican soccer fan will remain the league's number one target.
Perhaps they're going after the wrong crowd.
Home Depot Center played host to doubleheaders on Thursday and Saturday that featured the U.S., Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and El Salvador. On Thursday, some 22,000 came out. Saturday's games were played before a packed house.
While on Thursday, the U.S. was jeered by the large Guatemalan contingent in the stands, after Saturday's Central American clasico, many stuck around to watch the U.S., and many actually cheered for the hosts.
There were plenty of fans who had no problem showing support for two countries. Guatemalan and Salvadoran fans cheered against each other for the first game, then rooted alongside each other in the second match.
I guarantee you that the response would have been far different if Mexico had played in the first match. Mexican fans would not have stuck around for the U.S.-Trinidad game, and most of those who had would not have cheered for the U.S. Anyone who saw the Cuba-Panama match on Sunday can attest to that. Giants Stadium cleared out quickly after Mexico lost to Honduras.
In Los Angeles, the Salvadoran and Guatemalan communities are sizable. And these respective communities are also lovers of the beautiful game, as evidenced by their recent turnout. Fans are there for the taking, fans who are receptive to American soccer. Major League Soccer just needs to go out and get them now.