RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 26: Mexico fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between USA and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 26, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
On Saturday, Chivas USA will take on the Philadelphia Union in Philly, and the match will overlap with the Gold Cup Final. For many Chivas fans, the fact that their club is on the road means fans can root for the Goats in spirit while still taking in the Gold Cup final. Since the final is being held at the Rose Bowl, Chivas fans can conveniently attend the match, and many will. But with the fact that Chivas is often branded as "the Mexican team" in MLS, which national team are Chivas fans supporting on Saturday? Let's take a look at some of the reasons in supporting each country (and even both).
Why Chivas USA fans are supporting Mexico: Well, for starters, the team is named after a Mexican team. But while attempting to hook Mexican soccer fans by using the shortcut of naming the team Chivas was a rather cynical ploy, for fans in Southern California who never wanted to support the Galaxy, making the tenuous link with Mexico has worked. The fanbase is largely, though not exclusively, Latino, and many are Mexican immigrants or Mexican Americans who have great pride in supporting the Mexican National Team. The team fosters a bilingual atmosphere at matches by making announcements in both English and Spanish, which probably encourages at least some fans of Mexico to follow Chivas USA. Plus, when the same racist taunts are used towards supporters of both the Mexican national team and Chivas USA, fans feel a kinship between teams.
Why Chivas USA fans are supporting the United States: Lest we forget, Chivas USA is literally based in the United States. The stereotype that Chivas USA is "The Mexican Team" of MLS is ridiculous. There is a difference between Mexico and the United States, and to assume that fans of Chivas are all Mexican or all support Mexico is silly. While some fans obviously support Mexico, many support the U.S. and are proud supporters of the USMNT, even if they are of Mexican heritage. Plus, although Latino fans as a group have divided loyalties, the fanbase of Chivas is not entirely Latino. Yes, people of all colors support Chivas USA, believe it or not.
Why Chivas USA fans are supporting both countries: Ok, so a lot of fans bristle at the prospect of supporting more than one country, but sometimes, that is life. For some, having both Mexican and American identities means it is too hard to choose just one country. For others, living in the melting pot of Los Angeles means that competing allegiances are irresistible. No Chivas players are on the American or Mexican Gold Cup squads, either, so fans do not have an obligation to support one country over another on behalf of their club. And of course, there are some frontrunners in this crowd. "Wow, is this really the Sven Goran Eriksson era for Mexico? The USA looks pretty good right now." "Ooh, is the U.S. forward line allergic to scoring? Hey, look, Chicharito is scoring lots of goals." Frontrunners are usually gross but we all know a friend or two who does this, don't we?
In the end, Chivatown will have mixed reactions to the winner of the Gold Cup. But many fans, even if they support the losing side, will likely have some respect for the winning team. And it is the dream matchup, so we will hopefully all be in for another classic battle in this intense rivalry.