20th CONCACAF GOLD CUP
Mexico vs. USA, 6 p.m. Rose Bowl
It’s an hour before kickoff and the atmosphere here is insane, to say the least. While walking up from the parking lot to the media entrance it was easy to spot the sea of Mexican flags by the main entrance of the Rose Bowl as aficionados of El Tri waited for the Mexican National Team bus to pull into the stadium. While also walking up I struck up a conversation with a few people, which started by a girl asking why I was wearing a suit jacket on such a hot day. I explained I was a journalist covering the Gold Cup, but not before she interrupted asking who I was going to cheer for tonight.
First, I won’t be cheering. I’m a journalist, and as such I’ll remain objective as with every event I cover. And any true journalist will tell you: There’s no cheering in the press box.
Still, people always wonder if I had to choose who would I cheer for between Mexico — my birth place of which I know very little about — or the U.S. — where I’ve called home since I was two months old.
To be honest, both places are dear to me.
Mexico is my place of birth, my older brother’s place of birth and my mom’s place of birth. It’s where our extended family resides, Mexico City, to be exact. The only thing I know about Tijuana, my birthplace, is where to find delicious, guacamole-filled tacos. I’ve visted a handful of times, each visit a chance to wonder how my parents crossed the border in an effort to provide for a better life. The first time I heard the Republic’s natonal anthem was, if memory serves me right, in the seventh grade when it was played in its entirety at midnight on XTRA Sports 690, the San Diego radio sports station I would listen to while I fell asleep.
If I’m honest, it doesn’t compare to when I hear, and even play, the Star Spangled Banner. No doubt I’ll hear both tonight at the Rose Bowl, but our nation’s national anthem gives me chills every single time it’s played at sports arenas and throughout. It’s one of the first songs I learned in orchestra in the fourth grade.
I hear of many who leave Mexico during their high school years and come to the U.S. and have a hard time adapting to the culture. Nevertheless, the consensus among the people I know is that despite missing their homeland immensely, they live a much better life here.
I wouldn’t know what that feeling is like, but I do know is having lived here my entire life, there’s nowhere else I’d rather call home.