America’s Team

By | September 12, 2013

The USA Men’s Soccer starting lineup for its World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico on Sep. 10, 2013. The USA won 2-0, clinching a World Cup berth.

America’s Team. Fans across the country lay claim to this label for their favorite sports team. As a result of this dilution, this moniker largely has lost its meaning. So if you’re still searching for the real America’s Team, look no further than the USA Men’s Soccer team. As you no doubt know by now, Tuesday night it clinched a World Cup Birth by beating arch-rival Mexico 2-0. This is America’s Team.

We like to celebrate the U.S. as a melting pot, a place where people of myriad races, ethnicities, cultures, religions etc. identify as one nationality: American. Nowhere is this more apparent than the lineup for USA Men’s Soccer games (see image above). Eddie Johnson, who is black, headed home the game’s first goal from the corner of Landon Donovan, a white player who is perhaps the team’s most famous. Donovan also tapped in the USA’s second goal, thanks to a low cross from Mix Diskerud, who was born in Norway. The USA’s defense alone is a microcosm of the melting pot. In defense, the USA fielded Jermaine Jones, who is black and grew up in Frankfurt, Germany, as well as the Texan Omar Gonzalez, DaMarcus Beasely, an African-American from Indiana and Fabian Johnson, who also grew up in Germany.

Blacks, whites, Hispanics, immigrants — the USA Men’s Soccer lineup reads like a Census report. This team paints a more accurate picture of this country than any other of its national teams. The USA Men’s Olympic basketball squad, the Dream Team, is probably the nation’s most well known national team. Led by Duke’s own Coach K, featured thirteen blacks and one white players. Blacks might be racial minorities but that lineup is not diverse.

Unsurprisingly, given the demographics of the national team, the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport gave Major League Soccer an A+ for its players’ racial diversity in its 2012 Annual Racial and Gender Report Card. Professor Orin Starn often used to say during his Anthropology of Sports lectures, “What you play is who you are.” When it comes to America’s Team, USA Men’s Soccer is the real deal.

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