Current and former U.S. men's national soccer team players have been critical of Landon Donovan, who suggested in a video for Wells Fargo that American soccer fans should support Mexico at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia:
A number of players quickly disagreed with that take, with many citing the longstanding rivalry between the United States and Mexico in men's soccer:
Sebastian Salazar @SebiSalazarFUT
#unsponsored thought re: pushing #USMNT fans to root for #ElTriEng . Please don’t do it 🇺🇸 fans. The rivalry, with all its rancor & spite, is THE defining element of ⚽️ in our region. Watering it down for beer/banks won’t enrich the rivalry, just @AlexiLalas & @landondonovan.
Taylor Twellman @TaylorTwellman
I’d rather cut off my toe than “root for 🇲🇽” & I’m on the outside on this one, but how could I root for my/our rival?! Imagine any 🇨🇱 players rooting for 🇦🇷 today?! I can’t imagine how @AmericanOutlaws would feel if I rooted for Mexico....but then again I’m old school. https://t.co/wN910307vI
Kyle Martino @kylemartino
Can’t tell u how disappointing it is to have made personal & financial sacrifices to try & hold our federation accountable only to see former USMNT players profit off the result of that poor governance by asking US fans to support our rivals in the tournament we failed to reach
Former USMNT player Cobi Jones wasn't in favor of rooting for El Tri, either, as he revealed in a post on Instagram:
"Nah man!!! Mexico is not 'my team.' Mexico is a rival in CONCACAF. In sport there is something sacred about rivalries. Meaning and history behind them!!! I don't see Brazil cheering for Argentina. England cheering for Germany. Barca for Madrid. Man U for Liverpool or Lakers for Clippers. Yankees/RedSox etc...It's sports and you're allowed to cheer against someone. Let alone your regional rival!!!"
Donovan also responded to Carlos Bocanegra, a former USMNT teammate, citing Bocanegra's Mexican heritage in a now-deleted tweet:
"You grew up in SoCal and owe much of your soccer skill to playing with Mexicans," Donovan said via Andrew Joseph of For The Win. "Your father is of Mexican decent. Look around our country, are you happy with how we are treating Mexicans? Open your mind, stand for something & remember where you came from."
That didn't go over well with another one of his former teammates, Herculez Gomez:
herculez gomez @herculezg
This is an incredibly terrible take. Questioning ones loyalties to culture and/or heritage because HE questioned YOU for taking marketing dollars to “root” for your SPORTING RIVAL? You can hate El Tri- this doesn’t mean you have anything against Mexicans. ✊🏼 🇲🇽 🇺🇸 https://t.co/xF9JCI1qBC
Donovan apologized for the tweet Monday, noting he removed the post:
Some folks didn't think the debate was particularly productive one way or another:
Donovan, who is tied with Clint Dempsey for the most goals scored in USMNT history (57), spent time this spring playing for the Liga MX's Club Leon, and it appeared his comments were made in the spirit of solidarity.
Nonetheless, they came at a time when many former and current USMNT players, and supporters alike, are still raw over the team's failure to qualify for the World Cup.