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U.S. First Choice For Some Young Latinos

Wednesday's U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier in Columbus doesn't just pit Americans against Mexicans. For second-generation Latino U.S. citizens, the rivalry can cut across both family and ethnic lines, writes Hector Tobar. He tells the story of how he and Joel Aceves "were born and raised in Los Angeles. Both of us are sons of Latin American immigrants." But while Aceves supports Mexico, Tobar cheers on the U.S.

"I don't hate you or your team," Aceves told Tobar. "But I'm still angry that we lost to you in 2002 [at the World Cup]. I'll never get over that." By contrast, there are fans like 18-year-old Angel Soto, the son of Guatemalan immigrants and a resident of Rancho Cucamonga, who will brave un-Californian temperatures to attend the game in Ohio. "I've got four U.S. jerseys," said Soto. "And I'm going to be wearing all four of them at the game. Just my parents go for Guatemala. All of us five kids go for the U.S."

Aceves grew up in L.A watching the Mexican Football League on Univision and club side Chivas de Guadalajara play exhibition games at the Coliseum, unaware that there even was a U.S. national team. Tobar, meanwhile, followed the U.S. team because he "was an oddball kid who subscribed to every American soccer magazine in circulation."
Now L.A. "is changing before our eyes," writes Tobar. "The children of L.A. immigrants cheer happily for the U.S. team without suffering any guilt about betraying their roots. Some families are split between fans of Mexico and the United States, but hardly anyone takes any nationalist offense."

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Times »

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