It has been an emotional, painful eight months for U.S. Soccer fans since that fateful loss in Trinidad and Tobago ruled out the men's national team from competing in their eighth straight World Cup. A number of advertisers are taking the same approach to the situation.
With the U.S.'s absence have come several pushes -- from television networks and banks to cars and beers -- for American fans to give their support to a team that did manage to navigate the road to Russia: archrival Mexico.
Among those taking part is USMNT legend Landon Donovan in a promotion for Wells Fargo, but not everyone feels his request is appropriate.
Join Landon Donovan to cheer on the Mexican National Team during the big tournament. #MyOtherTeamisMexico pic.twitter.com/uzgNdUI9HF— Wells Fargo (@WellsFargo) June 15, 2018
Although there is some authenticity to Donovan's backing of El Tri -- the U.S.'s all-time leading scorer spent this spring at Liga MX club Leon -- the ad and several other campaigns like it have sparked backlash among U.S. internationals past and present, as well as ESPN presenter Sebastian Salazar.
Really? https://t.co/nlhHJ8CUNG— Carlos Bocanegra (@BocaBoca3) June 16, 2018
June 16, 2018
#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.— Sebastian Salazar (@SebiSalazarFUT) June 16, 2018
Former U.S. forward and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman didn't directly reply to Donovan's posts, but he nevertheless revealed strong feelings about rooting for Mexico.
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— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) June 16, 2018
Donovan replied to the criticism from Carlos Bocanegra, his former captain with the USMNT, noting the Atlanta United technical director's proximity to Mexico while growing up in Southern California and his Mexican heritage. Donovan also stated his concern for how Mexicans in the U.S. are treated and encouraged Bocanegra to "stand for something."
You grew up in SoCal and owe much of your soccer skill to playing with Mexicans. Your father is of Mexican descent (🤦🏻♂️). Look around our country, are you happy with how we are treating Mexicans? Open your mind, stand for something & remember where you came from ✌🏼❤️ https://t.co/1oOD3asfDk— Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) June 16, 2018
That drew a sharp rebuke from Donovan's former U.S. teammate Herculez Gomez, who is also an ESPN analyst.
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?— herculez gomez (@herculezg) June 16, 2018
You can hate El Tri- this doesn't mean you have anything against Mexicans. ✊🏼 🇲🇽 🇺🇸 https://t.co/xF9JCI1qBC