Critique of Practical Treason

Happy Mexican Independence Day! It was on this day two hundred years ago that Mexico forfeited the 2010 World Cup title.

Adam Serrano at Major League Soccer Soccer introduces us to Miguel Ángel Ponce, a potential US national team left back - well, sort of.

In case Jonathan Bornstein was sweating his spot:

This is probably the worst-case scenario for an international player - well, until the Gaza Strip comes up with a Ryan Giggs. Usually club fans don't care that much which country a player represents, provided club performance doesn't suffer. And usually the clubs themselves wish national teams would dry up and blow away altogether.

Guadalajara, though - well, not all of their fans are down with Mexico's constitutional definition of citizenship. Five years ago, Ponce wouldn't have been allowed on the field without a fake birth certificate. I'd be surprised, in fact, if this didn't trigger a mini-spitstorm on its own. A Chivas player even considering playing for another country, let alone the Great Satan? Inconceivable, as Signor Vizzini would say.

Compared to this, Giuseppe Rossi has it easy.

Neither Mexico nor the United States will be doing anything meaningful for a couple of years, so Miguel has time. I don't see this happening, though. First of all, guys should never give up a reliable club career for the vagaries of international soccer, let alone the Bob Bradley Love Rollercoaster. Ponce should talk to Jose Torres about the great seat he had for the Ghana game.

Second - about that birth certificate thing. Serrano and the official Chivas site have Ponce at 21 years old, but Soccernet says he's 25. This is probably Soccernet's error, but it doesn't hurt to double-check.

Let's assume he's good enough for the US - he's good enough to start in the Copa Libertadores final, after all. Although Chivas aren't doing much of anything in the Bicentenario right now, and frankly, we've already got guys who can lose in Mexico.

We then bump into the fact that his loyalty and devotion to the United States is undeniable...compared to Aldrich Ames. I'm not saying he would throw a game against Mexico, but this is where the Giuseppe Rossi "I'd rather have a guy who WANTS to play for us" discussion comes in.

Ponce would want to play for us, sure, if there were no consequences. International soccer is fun, after all. Would you, U.S. American, turn down a callup to Puerto Rico? You're eligible as a U.S. citizen, after all. I'm sure you'd enjoy it. I'm sure you'd play your best. But you wouldn't bleed the colors of the Puerto Rico flag...oh, wait, same colors. You get the idea though.

What, you wouldn't betray your country? Please. Your country is fine without you, unless you're Landon Donovan or Tim Howard. Dema's still wrong, this still isn't war.

And if we've learned nothing from the World Cup - and we haven't, no one ever learns anything, especially from the World Cup, but that's another post - it's that these guys aren't playing for their country, so much as each other and maybe their coach. If that spoils, all of the patriotism in the world won't help. Unless you think in four short years every Italian national team player except Rossi developed a poisonous hatred for their homeland. If it was about who loves their country the most, North Korea would be world champions.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still going to boo Rossi, in the unlikely event that he plays a game I attend. I guess I can watch him on television, and boo the television. Talk about super-productive.

But I'm doing that as a fan, not a patriot. One of my favorite soccer teams happens to call themselves "United States National Team," that's all. If the basketball equivalent of Giuseppe Rossi chose Italy over the United States, could you possibly care less? San Jose fans boo Landon Donovan, but that doesn't make them Communists and terrorists. Their devotion to the violent overthrow of the United States government and its replacement with a theocratic dictatorship based on Karl Marx and the Koran is what makes them Communists and terrorists.

I'm sure Guadalajara fans would prefer that Ponce play for nobody rather than the US. I can understand that. I thought Alan Gordon would have the self-respect to retire before playing for Chivas USA, and there he is, Mr. Player of the Week. If in the unlikely event Ponce is called up by Uncle Sam, in the unlikely event that Ponce accepts the invitation, in the unlikely event that Chivas doesn't fire him that same hour, it will be interesting to see whether Chivas fans tolerate this. I would imagine most will, provided he continues to play well for the club.

Which would imply that, if Rossi were to eventually play for an MLS club, that club's fans would be pretty much obligated to forgive him. (Fortunately, the fans of the other clubs will make up for it.)