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HOT TOPIC QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Should we support CONCACAF?

Michael Steele

The debate is raging on in the staffers lounge at Brotherly Game. Should US fans support a team from CONCACAF in the World Cup, even though they are bitter rivals?

Throughout CONCACAF World Cup qualifying teams like Costa Rica, Honduras, and the forever hated Mexico are cursed and jeered by fans of the US Men's National Team. All of those teams always give the US trouble in qualifying, but when they arrive in the World Cup, those teams typically underperform. Mexico and the United States are always mini-contenders on the big stage but the other qualifiers from CONCACAF are usually ripe for the picking for big teams on their way to the knockout stage.

CONCACAF is not viewed as a strong confederation, and some have even gone on to say the United States and Mexico would not qualify for the World Cup if they were not in CONCACAF. Teams outside of Mexico and the United States in CONCACAF have a record (in 19 games) of 4 wins, 3 draws, and 12 losses. Only Costa Rica in 1990 made it out of the group stage.

But this year seems to change the tune. The Costa Rica shocked semi-finalist Uruguay in their first group stage game with a 3-1 score line, and yesterday Mexico held hosts Brazil to a 0-0 draw thanks to a stellar performance by goalkeeper Guillermo "Memo" Ochoa. This begets the question "Should we be supporting CONCACAF in the World Cup given our weak status in the World, aka a stronger CONCACAF is a stronger USMNT? Or should we continue to wish ill against other CONCACAF teams because they are our rivals?"

Let's see what the consensus was.

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Dan Kenworthy - I really have no opinion because I enjoy soccer, but it was said on the broadcasts that all the South American fans (the Brazilians are at every game) will support all South American teams, except for Argentina. That's something to put into perspective.

But hey, this is America - we all have heritage back to Europe for the most part, so our "true" colors will be shown if US is out of it. All the South Americans have are really Portugal and Germany, so who would want that.

JC Escobar - My rule of thumb is only root for my team and not root against anyone.

Jared Young - I'm not so much a CONCACAF fan as much as an underdog fan. If CONCACAF were as good as UEFA or CONMEBOL, then I wouldn't root for the success of other confederation teams. But given pretty much every CONCACAF team is an underdog, I tend to root for them. The question was should I be such a fan? But I think it's just an individual preference. I don't think it really matters as far as improving things for USMNT so if you love to hate, then go for it.

William Murphy - The better CONCACAF is, the more it benefits the US, from seeding to stiffer competition. It's all a positive thing in the long run. I say "VIVA CONCACAF", except for Chuck Blazer.

Barry Evans - Seeding has nothing to do with the region if I remember correctly. You don't want to root for a rival unless it helps you directly, and I don't think Mexico, Costa Rica or Honduras doing well will help the US. That said, unless it helps the team, I wouldn't say the wanting your rivals to lose any game makes sense either. I would just watch those games as a neutral fan, and laugh at the teams that lose embarrassingly.

Nicholas Youngstein - I like the underdog, in general. So, I'll hope for Costa Rica or Honduras to play well.

Matt Ralph - I will root for any team with a player from MLS on the field.

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I draw a comparison to this discussion that is from the NFL. My favorite NFL team is (unfortunately) the Miami Dolphins. In the AFC East there are three rivals, New England, Buffalo, and the NY Jets. Much like that CONCACAF really only has three other teams outside of the US: Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras. When it comes to the Miami Dolphins there is one team I will never root for, the New England Patriots. I have never wished well for them and I most likely never will. For me, the New England Patriots are the Mexico of the NFL. I will never root for Mexico, regardless of opponent, and in fact, I think I acquired a small percentage of Cameroonian heritage after their game in Group A. I have wished ill-will on Tom Brady about as much as I have Javier Hernandez.

Now on the other hand, Costa Rica are the NY Jets and Honduras are the Buffalo Bills of CONCACAF. I generally do not like the NY Jets, but if they are playing well against a great team I will say something like, "You know the Dolphins are in the same division, right?" Typically Costa Rica does not impress me and I generally laugh at their misfortunes. Honduras have talented players, much like the Bills, but rarely impress and they did not change the record against France.

I agree that a stronger CONCACAF is better for the United States and we need to hope, not necessarily root for, other teams in CONCACAF to perform well. That applies to every team except Mexico and it will always apply to every team in CONCACAF except Mexico. Wish for a stronger confederation, sure, but don't send your wishes to Mexico. They don't need our help.

Or do they?

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