When fans in any sport say they pull for two teams, others give them little quarter and tell them to pick one or the other. However, for FC Dallas midfielder Eric Avila, who will be cheering on both the United States and Mexico in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, things are a little bit different.
Ávila was born in San Diego and spent time in the U.S. Residency Program, but he also has ties to our neighbor to the south. Both of his parents are from Mexico and he still has a lot of family down there. So, it’s easy to understand that the affable midfielder, like many Mexican-Americans, has split loyalties.
“My family is all from Mexico and I was a big fan of Mexico [growing up],” said Ávila. “I went to U.S. Residency and that changed the whole vibe. I was playing for my country and had pride in that. To tell you the truth, I go for both [teams]. When the U.S. play, I always root them on and support them 100 percent; Mexico as well.”
He also wasn’t shy about offering his predictions about how both squads could fare in South Africa.
“I think the U.S. will do fine. With the team that they have out there, they’ll do fine,” Ávila said. “They proved against Spain and a couple of good teams that they can hang. It’s all on them.”
However, he isn’t quite so sure about how El Tri will perform on soccer’s biggest stage.
“I don’t know [about Mexico],” Ávila said. “I liked the way they played against Italy and the way they moved the ball. I think that was great. If they keep playing like that, then they’ll be OK.”
A lot would have to happen for the U.S. and Mexico to meet in this year’s World Cup, but if the two do face each other, Ávila would be forced to make a tough decision, one that practically borders on treason from either side.
“They have played before and I [usually] want the U.S. to win, but sometimes I want Mexico to win. Honestly, I like both,” he said. “I played in the U.S. Residency Program, and also Mexico is a [country close to my heart]. It’s a hard decision.”
When asked which player he wants to watch over any other in this year’s event, Ávila mentioned Argentina’s current standout, though first the midfielder mentioned a World Cup great who won’t be representing his country this summer.
“It was Ronaldinho. I loved the way he played,” Ávila said. “Every time he touched the ball [he’d make things happen]. In college, it was all Ronaldinho for me. But now, since he’s not going, it’s all [Lionel] Messi. Messi’s the guy that’s not too flashy and always stays humble.”
But as much as he looks forward to watching Messi light things up, he’s pretty sure it won’t be Argentina who will take the Cup.
“Argentina always disappoints me, and I think they might do that again,” said the midfielder.
That’s why, in the FCD World Cup bracket contest, Ávila chose a squad some might consider a dark horse to take the glory.
“I like Netherlands. I love Brazil, but they don’t have Ronaldinho, so I’m not rooting for them.”
WATCH: USA: TEAM PROFILE
WATCH: USA: ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
WATCH: MEXICO: TEAM PROFILE
WATCH: MEXICO: ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA