USA vs. Mexico

Mexico and the U.S. are in the same "world district" organized by FIFA: CONCACAF, encompassing North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean. For years Mexico dominated the conference, which meant they always made it to the World Cup, qualifying as a regional champion. A couple of teams from the area have gotten better, notably Jamaica, but the big difference the last fifteen years has been the U.S. In the early nineties, we began to legitimately challenge Mexico. Now, we've beaten them seven out of the last ten, most recently a 2-0 victory to clinch a World Cup berth in Germany next year.

If there's one thing Mexicans are supposed to be superior to Americans in, it's soccer. Because they're not, they hate us with a pure hatred. When the U.S. National Team played in Mexico for the first time after the September 11 attacks, the Mexico City crowd chanted "Osama! Osama!" during the game. And the Mexican hold on reality where the U.S.A. and soccer are concerned is often tenuous...seldom does a Mexican admit that any American skill played into American victory, it's always luck.

The most recent fantastic quote came from the Mexican coach himself, who said after the 2-0 defeat,
"The U.S. is a small team," he said. "They play like my sister, my aunt and my grandmother."
The "small team" jab means, basically, that the U.S. team plays faster than the Mexicans. There are generally three ways to be offensive in soccer. First, your team can favor set plays and taking advantage of size in the area (I always forget what it's called in English, I mean the big box in front of the goal), a style often favored by northern Europeans. Second, your team can play a ball-possession game emphasizing the skills of your midfielders, and looking to exploit gaps with short passes; this style is often favored by Latin teams, and is very pretty to watch. Third, you can look to use straightaway speed to make long runs toward the goal; this style is favored by western Europeans, many African teams, and the American team.

When I was in Brazil, the U.S. was starting to emerge from the shadows of soccer nothingness, and was starting to impinge itself on the Brazilian consciousness (since then, Brazil has won two World Cups, so nothing is likely to undermine Brazilian confidence for a while). Americans aren't supposed to be good at soccer. The feeling one gets is that of watching the older brother who always got what he wanted, always succeeded at everything he tried, deciding he'd try his hand at your favorite hobby. Brazilians contemptously dismissed American soccer as German, that is, soulless, and big. And that's the interesting thing...American teams haven't been big, they've been small and quick, which only serves to annoy Latin teams even further.

So you have a Mexican coach basically saying that his boys lost to a bunch of maricones, because he can't bring himself to say, "We're losing to a pretty good team, and we've got to catch up."

Read the story at ESPN here.
By the way, you can click on the "my grandmother" quote above for the "game summary" article, and that quote; the link in this paragraph has a similar, but distinct quote. The coach must've been on quite a rant after that loss.