Every four years the world is blessed with the World Cup, and every four years we struggle with how to watch every single game and remain productive, or at least pretend to be productive. How, for example, should we adjust our sleep patterns? How can we watch a 3am game as well as the following 8am and 11am matches? Should we go to bed early? Nap between matches? Or, forego sleep all together?
While we can’t offer any solutions for being productive or help you convince your partner that watching 22 grown men kick a ball is the most important thing you’ll do this entire summer, we’d like to offer some insight and speculation as you anxiously await the first game.
1 vs 1 takes inspiration from impromptu pick-up games played on the block, in vacant lots, and backyard parties. In these games the general rules of soccer still apply: there is a goal and two opposing sides and there are winner and losers. Like these informal games, 1 vs 1 brings together folks with varying degrees of skill, experience with and knowledge about soccer. Through this new series of interviews, we hope to create a space for everyone to enjoy the beautiful game.
Our next 1 vs 1 session is between my father-in-law Jaime Fragoza and a student from my soccer class who I dubbed “pro-status,” as a joke, but it is slowly sticking. So if you see Alex around campus help me out and yell “pro-status.”
Jaime Fragoza (father-in-law) was born in 1958 in Mesquital de Oro, Zacatecas and was raised in Guadalajara. He played his first official soccer games with Natex, a team affiliated with a textile company in the mid 1960s and later played for Rastro, which was a combination of three different teams. As a migrant in Los Angeles during the 1970s, Don Fragoza played in the Liga Latino Americana for Club Deportivo Mexico and Club Deportivo Azusa. When he lived in Mexico he was a fan of Atlas, but now he isn’t really a fan of any team. His most memorable soccer experience is watching Brazil play against France at the Estadio Jalisco in the 1986 World Cup.
Alejandro Ortega-Miranda was born in 1996 and is a history major at Fresno State. He grew up watching Liga MX and cheering on Chivas. His most memorable soccer experience is watching Chivas vs America with his father on the family couch in 2006. He is a devoted fan of Fresno FC, Bayern Munich, and the US and Mexican national teams.
First up, Jaime Fragoza
RG: Don Jaime, how far will Mexico go?
JF: They make people believe that Mexico can be a champion or get to the quarterfinals; according to the media everything is possible. Its’ all about the money, the show and most people buy it. With globalization, sport or chips or cars or whatever, this is what we have. Its more profitable for Mexico to play in the U.S. than in Mexico. We know the abilities of other teams, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico isn’t on that level. I think Mexico will make it to the second round. From there, it’s hard to say. The mistake we make in Mexico if we say if we win or tie, but it’s all about each and every game; you have to wait for each game. You can’t really predict what will happen.
RG: What four teams do you think can make it to the semi-finals?
JF: I’ll go with Argentina, Brazil, and Germany. Russia doesn’t have a good team, but you know they might make it to the semi-finals—because that is how these things work. (It didn’t help Brazil, but you know how it is). We can’t forget about Spain. So to go back to Mexico: do you think Mexico is in the same category as these groups? Yes, we have to be positive and optimistic, but our first game is against Germany: a tie would really be the best hope we have. A win is possible, but saying something is possible is hardly a plan.
RG: What team has the ability to surprise the world?
JF: I haven’t been following too closely. Belgium is better than Mexico, so there is them. What Mexico has, like many teams is there is a lot of money.
RG: favorite players (now or in the past):
JF: Pele, Maradona, Johan Cruyff and then a lot of folks can come after them. I can’t really see any other top three.
RG: Alejandro, let’s start with your favorite players.
A: Dang profe that one is hard, you are causing me pain. If I had to give a top five, it would be: Ronalidho, Marco Va Basten, Pele, Thomas Muiller, and Pirlo the architect.
RG: Dang, you got Pele at number 3? I might have to go back and lower your grade from my soccer class.
A: Come’on profe. He is number 3 and I never even saw him play. The thing is, you can’t deny that Ronaldihno represents this like pure joy and beauty. So, that’s gotta be number 1 right?
RG: What about the semi-finals? What four teams do you have making it?
A: Ok. I gotta go with 1. Germany 2. Brazil 3. France 4. Argentina. However, for me Spain and Argentina are interchangeable.
RG: Let’s add one more team to that by asking you about the “dark horse”.
A: Egypt is very underrated and not just because of Salah. Him getting hurt and then being able to play has to be a huge emotional and psychological boost for Egypt. First, you lose Salah and then he is back! I would not be surprised if they get into the quarterfinals. Also, we can’t forget about Colombia. I think a lot of folks are expecting big things from James.
RG: Last question Alejandro. What does the future hold for the tri-color?
A: We have to battle for the second seed because Germany will get that number one spot. I think Mexico has the skills to push through the group stage, but will lack the firepower to get past the second round. They go out in the second round.