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Fueled by my discontent with Arizona’s most excellent and now infamous law, S.B. 1070, set to go into effect at the end of July, I finally got around to buying my first Mexico soccer jersey, er, futbol jersey.

I bought it in May and I haven’t taken it off much since, except maybe to wash it. It’s great – I’ve been meeting lots of new folks from all over Mexico, but it does have its drawbacks.

For example, everyone wants to chat me up about the team. They’ll bring up a recent game or ask me for my prognostication of an upcoming one, which unfailingly leads to an awkward silence on my part.

All I know is that they have green jerseys! That’s it. And that when they score, some crazy guy yells, “¡Go-o-ol!”

I can usually get by with my pocho-esque Spanish, but when the soccer jargon breaks out, I’m toast. I smile, nod my head and say “sí” a lot, and sheepishly walk away feeling like I need to learn me some futbol and improve my language skills.

But you gotta love the World Cup, a time when people all over the world go nuts cheering for their national teams.

Except in the U.S., that is. Soccer just hasn’t hit the fever pitch intensity in America that many predicted it would. Who knows? It may be the next metric system, popular throughout the world but second fiddle to the English system of yards and pounds and stuff. Some things Americans just aren’t going to take up.

This is true also for many “assimilated” Latinos who grew up with a football that spirals when you throw it right, not a futbol that you can bounce on your lap incessantly for hours on end. Who wants to do that?

But every four years, an event happens that moves America closer and closer to joining the rest of the world in its appreciation for gazelle-like athletes who can chase down a soccer ball, only to kick it further down the field. Every now and then it goes into this big net, and pandemonium ensues for one nation as death threats get sent in another.

So every World Cup, Mexican Americans, or pochos to some, get put to the ultimate assimilation test, one that can measure just how American we have become. What team are we going to root for? The good ol’ U.S. of A. or El Tri? That would be Mexico to you really assimilated types.

Even if we aren’t into many of the events in the Olympics, we still root for our country, which is easy to do because we’re usually good at most of the events. And it’s the patriotic thing to do.

During this and future World Cups, I’m sure we’ll root for the American team, especially now that they’re getting better all the time, but what happens when the two countries meet? Will we have to root privately for Mexico and publicly for team U.S.A.? Is that in S.B. 1070 somewhere?

Regardless, I have my jersey and will wear it until it frays, all the while proudly waving the American flag.

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