Just an average passport ninja writing and living his dream in São Paulo... Why not YOU?

CHOOSING A BRAZILIAN SOCCER TEAM, PART I

by 10kJuan on April 26, 2012 · 13 comments

in Brazil, Sports

 

Now that I’ve achieved black belt status as a passport ninja and returned to São Paulo with a 3rd passport, it’s time to begin the next step in my Brazilian immersion. It’s time to do my best Paulista impersonation and go all in on living like a local, which means it’s time for me to dive into Brazilian Soccer and pledge my allegiance to one of the country’s dozens of squads.

But before we embark on the journey of choosing my Brazilian soccer team, it’s important that I explain where I’m coming from as a fan, where my loyalties lie in other sports, and why I’m seeking refuge in the Brazilian league, also known as the Brasilerão.

First, let me introduce you to my teams:

The Knicks. The Jets. The Mets. The Miami Hurricanes.

What do they have in common? Well, for one, they all rhyme with misery. Life-shortening, perpetual, misery. They also taste of defeat, and stink up the court/field. I was born into the first three, being from Queens, NY, and am a graduate of the last, The University of Miami, Class of ’01. I mention this because there’s a higher level of comfort with sports fan misery when you know you never had much of a choice to begin with in the matter, and my case definitely applies.

To quote the great Roger Waters, whose “The Wall” show in São Paulo earlier this month momentarily took my mind off the current state of affairs of my favorite teams, you become comfortably numb, with a diminishing rate of return (or in this case, pain) for each subsequent mishap.

Injuries. Ineptitude. Insubordination. Ineligibility. Insolvency. And finally, Incompetence. All in a day’s work for my teams.

Sports CAN be fun when your team isn’t awful. UM vs. FSU in Tallahassee, 2005. Loncar and Mateus in attendance.

The Hurricanes at least have the distinction of having won something in the 21st century (2001-02 National Champions).

The Mets? Haven’t won it all since Bill Buckner did his thing in 1986.

The Knicks? 1973.

The Jets? 1969.

Not to mention that their most hated rivals, almost all in-town or in-state, have been much more successful than them in recent years, if not always.

It’s bad enough when you’re not talented or successful, but watching your big brothers outdo you in everything? It’s like being Danny Devito in “Twins”, or Frank Stallone on any day of the year. Being Bono’s brother, whatever his name is, or doing a shot of Russian Cocaine, without the upside of the tequila. Stubbing your toe on the side of the bed in the morning comes to mind as well.

In fact, there are days where I wonder if my relatively healthy lifestyle is enough to keep the collective train wreck of the Knicks/Jets/Mets/Hurricanes from shaving years off my life.

But aside from the fact that my most loved squads are killjoys, being in Brazil for the last year (and following them all via my feeds, podcasts and dubbed TV) has made me realize that you can’t replace the experience of being in the The States and fully partaking in the pulse surrounding the NFL, NCAA Football, the NBA and MLB.

So what’s a sports fan, starving for a mutually rewarding relationship with any one of his teams, to do? The same thing I did at Caesars Palace when my blackjack show started off bad: Play two hands at once.

No pun intended on the “play two hands at once” line above.

And what better way to do that, at this very moment, than to go all-in on the most popular sport in the world, which happens to be practiced and followed religiously in the country I currently call home? Yup, it’s time to play my luck as a torcedor in Brazilian Soccer, or as they call it here, futebol.

People get silly for soccer. I’m no exception.

Before we begin though, let’s get the disclaimers out-of-the-way:

Even by U.S. standards, I’m not the most knowledgeable soccer fan in the world. Having said that, it should come as no surprise that given my Latin American/Spanish descent, I AM a fan.

I destroyed the World Cup in 2006, correctly predicted 13 of the 16 qualifiers with my patent-pending revolutionary system, attended Ecuador’s historic 3-0 victory over Costa Rica in Hamburg, and witnessed The U.S. lose to Ghana in an elimination game in Nuremburg. I partied in the World Cup village with Brazilians (below), Ecuadorians and Germans, and even threw out my own karaoke rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.

I’m also a Real Madrid, Emelec, Peñarol and Red Bulls follower, and I fully back The USA, Spain and Ecuador national teams in international competition (in that order, if you’re wondering), so Brazilian Soccer will be a natural segue for me as I enter my 2nd year of full immersion in São Paulo.

But how does one go about choosing a team these days? Or at anytime really?

That topic deserves a post of its own and will rightfully get one in Part II of Decisão 2012. Stay tuned.

 

In the mean time, who do YOU think I should choose? Why?

Post a comment below making a case for your team (or against another). 

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca April 27, 2012 at 07:48

Love the description of your home teams :) You already know you´ve got to be a Corinthian. They are the perfect mix for you–still have failures like your current teams (see Campeonato Paulista) but also offer the hope of success (Libertadores) missing from your current teams ;) Palmeiras is too much like your current teams; and your link about how teams are viewed says it all about São Paulo ;)

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10kJuan April 27, 2012 at 10:29

Thanks for the input, Beccs. It’ll be a close call. No denying that Corinthians Nation is strong!

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Nicolly May 4, 2012 at 01:51

Eu definitivamente acho que você deveria torcer para o São Paulo por dois motivos:

Primeiro: pra provar que nem todo tricolor é gay!
Segundo: Porque você é uma pessoa bonita, educada e com todos os dentes na boca! :)

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10kJuan May 4, 2012 at 07:50

Entendi, Nicolly. Sua opinião é anotada. Mas, nenhuma vantagem pelos elogios! :)

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Andy Martin May 7, 2012 at 11:37

I agree, a very tricky decision! I’m actually writing a post about this myself at the moment as my decision was made a little more complicated by the split loyalties of my my wife (Palmeiras) and in-laws (Corinthians).

Have you been to any games here in SP yet?
Andy Martin recently posted..Lesson No. 4: Ciudad del Este – Everything’s RelativeMy Profile

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10kJuan May 7, 2012 at 11:43

Not just yet, first one may be Wednesday though, Corinthians vs. my Ecuadorian team, Emelec. Palmeiras/Corinthians.. Tough spot. Hopefully our posts will be of mutual help. Have you been to any games yet? Already ruled out SP and Santos?

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Andy Martin May 7, 2012 at 11:56

Yeah I try to get to as many as possible. Went to the Cor / Pal Classico which was fun and I’m trying to go to all the home games of one of the smaller teams CA Juventus. They’ve just been promoted to the second division of the Paulistão and have a very loyal Italian following in the Mooca district.

Check them out! It’s only R$10 to get in (R$5 for students) though they only play mid-afternoon Wednesdays and early at the weekends because they don’t have any floodlights!

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10kJuan May 7, 2012 at 12:50

Love it. That’s hardcore. I’m going a different route myself, but that Wednesday afternoon game fits my schedule so I’ll check the next one out. Thanks for the heads-up!

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