World Cup fans in the United States looking for a team or player to root for in the 32-nation tournament are having a hard time picking a clear favorite.
With the U.S. missing out on the 2018 edition in Russia, participants in a recent SurveyMonkey poll veered equally toward cheering on Mexico, Brazil or Germany -- with each earning 12 percent of the tally from those who said they will follow the World Cup or have paid attention to one in the past. One-time champion England (eight percent) and South American power Argentina (six percent) rounded out the top five.
Spain, at five percent, and France at three were the only other national teams that managed tallies over two percent. Almost a quarter of the World Cup followers in the survey -- 23 percent -- did not identify a favorite team.
Among players, superstars Lionel Messi of Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal each claimed 18 percent of votes cast. Brazil's Neymar was third among specified players at seven percent, followed by Mexico's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Germany's Thomas Muller at four percent each.
Colombia's James Rodriguez and Egypt's Mohamed Salah -- each at three percent -- were the only other players above the two percent mark; 24 percent of followers went without picking a favorite.
The SurveyMonkey poll, conducted between May 30 and June 1, consisted of 3,752 participants, of which 1,375 identified as World Cup followers. Other trends from the survey: Germany and Brazil are the favorites to win the World Cup regardless of rooting interest at 22 and 20 percent, respectively; Argentina at nine percent, Spain at seven and Mexico at four completed the top-five replies.
Asked how far Mexico will advance, 25 percent of followers chose the round of 16 -- which has been El Tri's last stand in the previous six World Cups. However, 29 percent believed they would surpass that stage this year and end their run in the quarterfinals. Beyond that, 12 percent thought Mexico would reach the title game, and six percent predicted El Tri would win the Cup.
Despite the U.S. national team's failure to qualify for the first time since 1986, there did appear to be a hint of optimism regarding their future even with disappointment lingering among fans. The percent of followers who expected the U.S. to qualify for the 2022 World Cup was at 67, and 45 percent of those same followers predicted they would win a World Cup in their lifetime.