Hispanic Identity in US Soccer (E. Turner)

Over at Fox Soccer, Elliott Turner has written a great two-piece series on Latinos and US soccer (Part 1, Part 2). I briefly touched upon this topic when writing about Klinsmann’s desire to inject a Latino influence into the USMNT, but Turner further dives into the politics and racial issues that make this such a sensitive topic. Here’s a snippet where he talks about promising midfielder José Torres:

When I say the name Jose Torres, what comes to mind? How would you describe him?

Most couldn’t describe him at all, because for all but regular soccer fans, Jose Torres is still an unknown. For those who know him, the term tidy may come to mind, an allusion to his passing. Some would describe him as technical – soccer’s general euphemism for a skilled player – while others see the five-foot-five midfielder as diminutive or weak.

In a well-balanced blog post on the midfielder, The Shin Guardian came up with three titles – “Player,” “Representative,” and “Conductor” – labels ascribing hope to those vague visions.

The discussion surrounding Torres drifts from the age-old skill-versus-size debate to the one which projects so many wishes for the US’s future onto the 23-year-old, yet what interests me most are comments that he plays like a Mexican.

When I asked you to describe Torres, did the term “American” enter your mind? Toss away tall or short, strong or weak, technically gifted or unskilled clod. Anywhere in this discussion of Torres, did you think American? If so, how soon? And why?

Of course, as a player for the US Men’s National Team, Torres’s nationality could already be an innocuous assumption in your mind. Nevertheless, it’s a confusing era for chicanos and Hispanic Americans with dual nationalities. As fly-over country and border states pass purportedly neutral laws that in reality only affect a predominantly Hispanic portion of their population, many chicanos feel less American than ever; or, at least, less loved.


Everyday on the news, folks yell about immigration and how the law is being broken. We respond ‘but you wrote the law. And you could re-write it, if you wanted to.’ But you don’t. Many only see their white stars on the American flag.

Image: Southern Soccer Scene (José Torres and Mexico’s Andrés Guardado)

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