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Torn between the love of two clubs

What do you do when you are a diehard fan of both Sounders and Chivas?

Born in Guadalajara and living in Seattle, Hugo Garcia is the former stadium voice of Sounders 2, and was the Spanish stadium voice for leg 2 against Santa Tecla. He bleeds Rave Green ... and he’s also a Goat. The next CONCACAF Champions League series, between Chivas de Guadalajara and Seattle Sounders, is a test of his loyalties. This is his story.

You never forget your first love, and, similarly, you never stop loving your first Club — that first club that set that futbol-loving legacy for you. For me, that legacy started in Guadalajara, Mexico, where I was born and spent my first eight years of life growing up in the heart of the city. For most of the millions of people like me, when the weekend in sports was discussed it revolved around one sport and one team: futbol, and Las Chivas de Guadalajara! I love talking about their trophies and history, but you can google their history and prestige, so I’ll keep it simple by letting you know that in Mexico a word was created in Spanish to describe them: el campeonisimo! (Basically, this means “the greatest and most champion,” but all in one word.)

Today, I share on social media with many friends about watching futbol regularly with my father, Don Gama, and how much I cherish watching games with him. Much of this feeling is because I didn’t get to have many of those moments in Guadalajara during those first eight years of my life. My dad had immigrated to Seattle in those early years to work in the States and find ways to provide a better future for my brothers and me. This probably contributed to my legacy team not being my dad’s club, “Atlas of Guadalajara” (thank god!).

Instead, I developed my own fandom for Chivas from watching my cousins play, live, and breathe Chivas futbol. In those early years I grew up with no older brother, and so I idolized my older cousins. Whether by watching Chivas matches, or playing futbol with them and neighborhood kids, life usually involved seeing lots of the iconic vertical red and white-striped Chivas jerseys all over the place.

After immigrating here to Seattle as a kid I was raised by Seattle in the White Center/Burien communities. Growing up as a teen in Seattle in the 90s there wasn’t a Major League Soccer team in town (no disrespect, USL Sounders!) and really not much soccer was on TV. I ended up falling in love with the Sonics, Seahawks, and Mariners, like most PNW-loving teens. My dad, though, made sure we watched futbol with him any chance we had, since he worked 40 to 60 hour weeks and he couldn’t really take us to sporting events.

We watched Liga MX futbol as much as we could, but in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s you needed one of those huge metal satellite dishes that people used to build on their properties and the only games that were televised were mostly Chivas and their rival (some team from Mexico City) playing against each other and other teams in the league since they were the most popular teams in the league. These formative moments shared with my dad and younger brothers — like watching Chivas futbol while eating potato chips, chopped turkey franks with lime juice and Tapatio hot sauce, and mom’s pozole — stuck with me, and are where my passion for the sport really took hold.

Honestly, as a kid, I didn’t get or know how to appreciate the quality of futbol. All I knew was we would spend time with my dad, he was usually happy, and from time to time he’d go nuts when goals were scored. It’s where my love and passion for futbol reconnected with my roots in Guadalajara and my legacy club, Chivas de Guadalajara.

That same passion for watching futbol with Don Gama resulted in my brother making sure we put in a deposit for the 2009 MLS Sounders season when they joined MLS. My brother and I were both there to go crazy when Fredy scored that first goal. We looked at each other after celebrating, and just remember having chills on the back of my neck and thinking about all those times watching futbol with our dad; connecting that moment to the fun we had with him watching Chivas versus Club America.

Since that first goal by Fredy, I’ve watched and supported Sounders religiously, joining the ECS sub-group of La Barra Fuerza Verde. I’ve traveled to more than 10 games in multiple cities before finally seeing my first Sounders win on the road. I flew to Toronto to watch the coldest sporting event of my life and witness history when the Sounders won their first MLS Cup. I’ve been privileged to do public announcements for both Sounders FC and Sounders 2, at Starfire and Century Link Field, in Spanish. (Mostly because I once I yelled “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLAZO!” While watching an S2 practice/tryout, and the S2 GM asked if I would be interested in doing goal calls and public announcements at S2 games when they kicked off the inaugural season!)

I booked a trip to Guadalajara when the CONCACAF Champions League schedule was set at the beginning of the year and I saw the possible match-up between both clubs. I’ve been asked once or twice who I’d root for in this exact scenario. I’ll be in Mexico for the second leg in Guadalajara, and I’ll be in our Sounders supporter section, but honestly, at times I just hope I pass out in a futbol-induced coma when the match starts and I wake up when the series is over to keep rooting for whoever the winner is.

All of the memories and moments experienced, and the many friends I’ve made through sharing a passion for rooting for Sounders FC, started with developing that relationship with the sport and Chivas in Mexico. I will be visiting the city I was born in, and family I have not seen in over 10 years. The next two weeks will be fun-filled and emotional, as the clubs I’ve rooted for my entire life are going head to head in as meaningful a game and tournament as can be. May the best team win!

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