After one year, Mexican national soccer team will play again in U.S.

Mexico players celebrate after Mexico defeated United States 1-0 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final soccer match at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 7, 2019. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

It’s been a lean year for America’s team. And by America’s team, we don’t mean the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees or even the U.S. women’s national soccer team.

The America’s team we’re talking about isn’t even based in this country. But with a 2020 survey showing 60 million people in the U.S. self-identify as supporters of the Mexican national soccer team, it may have the largest, most geographically diverse fan base of any team in the U.S.

It has certainly made itself at home here, playing 70 friendlies in the U.S. since 2008, more than 3½ times as many as it played in Mexico during that time. And that doesn’t include competitive matches such as World Cup qualifiers and the biennial CONCACAF Gold Cup that are played in the U.S.

All of which made last year so unusual because, for the first time in 32 years, the Mexican national team didn’t play once on this side of the border.

“It was a different experience,” said Yon de Luisa, president of the Mexican soccer federation. “I think we all had different experiences throughout 2020.”

Mexico will make up for that this year. On Wednesday the federation and Soccer United Marketing (SUM), the New York-based entity that manages the team’s U.S. tours, said Mexico will play a minimum of five exhibitions in the U.S. beginning with a May 30 friendly against Iceland at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The rest of the games have not been finalized but most are expected to be played in late spring or early summer.

With Mexico also scheduled to play in the Final Four of the Nations League tournament in June, the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July and a World Cup qualifier in November, Mexico could have as many as 14 games in the U.S. in the final seven months of 2021.

That’s more than it has played in any calendar year in Mexico.

“It’s a balance,” De Luisa said from Mexico City. “We need to understand that even though we have 120 million Mexicans within our borders, we have close to 40 million north of our border. And we have found that our fan base in the U.S., it’s not only the 40 million Mexicans. There are people close to our Mexican relatives in the U.S. that also are fans of our national team.