Wednesday 29 June 2011

Home Sweet Home

Pete ( said...:

I must admit to not having visited the states at all, however I believe the comment holds true despite Mexico's occasional use of the stadium. I suppose it depends on your opinion of what causes home advantage, which is a very interesting topic in itself.
Indeed it is, although when it comes to football, I tend to think that the home advantage comes from playing in front of a partisan crowd rather than from a sense of 'feeling at home'.

As international games are relatively infrequent, the argument that players "sleep in their own beds" before home games doesn't apply. The USA players were as unfamiliar with the Rose Bowl as the Mexico players. Not a single player plays there on a regular basis. Travel was similarly a non-issue - both teams had played previous games around the country. The USA in Detroit, Tampa, Kansas City, Washington and Houston (none even close to Pasadena), while Mexico had played in Arlington, Charlotte, Chicago, East Rutherford and Houston (again, none even close to Pasadena).

In the case of the USA v Mexico, technically the game was a home game for the USA, but as anyone watching the game will confirm, far more fans were there supporting Mexico than were for the US.

Until Saturday night, the United States had not lost to Mexico on American soil when at full strength in twelve matches dating back to the 2000, but as ESPN reported:
Still, the American players know that soccer draws many fans to Mexico's team, as was evident at this weekend's game. Hispanics are now the nation's second-largest group under the latest census.

"You come into your country and you know they are going to have more fans than you are," U.S. defender Jonathan Bornstein said in remarks on the confederation website, "but nonetheless, we're going to have enough fans out there supporting us. We're on our home turf, and so we need to be considered the home team even though we might not have all the fans."
I would suggest that the technical home advantage for the USA was neglible, if not non-existent. The Mexican diaspora in the USA is at least 9.9 million, in Los Angeles County about 2 million, and in Los Angeles itself, about 1 million and Mexicans love their football unlike most Los Angelenos at the weekend, who would have been more interested in the intra-league Dodgers v Angels rivalry.

The precise nature of what home advantage is in sports is an interesting topic. Obviously in some sports, cricket springs to mind, playing at home is advantage because the home side prepares the pitch and is aware of the ground's nuances. Football fields, especially at lower levels, can feature slopes or are narrowed or widened to suit the home team's style of play for example, and certain teams gain a home advantage from being used to playing in certain weather conditions or at a certain altitude. Bolivia were temporarily banned from playing home games at the Estadio Hernando Siles stadium, which is at an altitude of 3,637 - above the 2,500 metre limit that FIFA briefly introduced.

Mano has this to say:
Pete, I agree with Cassini. Your comment doesn't hold true. It isn't about "occasional use". It's about the fact that most of the crowd were supporting Mexico. This was easy to predict. It was the first game between the US and Mexico to be held in Southern California in 11 years. In the 2000 census, 32.4% of California was reported as of Hispanic or Latino origin (Pasadena, where the game was held, was a shade higher, at 33.4%). Immigration from Mexico has risen in the past 10 years -- and bear in mind that undocumented workers may not be fully accounted for in census figures.

I agree that different things make up "home advantage", but surely crowd support is a part. When a US team walks out to a 93,000 crowd where the majority is supporting the opposition -- some reports called it "a sea of green" -- in a stadium in a city that has a large Hispanic and Mexican population, you have to feel that any advantage they might have had due to the fact Pasadena is on one side of the border is diminished. Perhaps not diminished as much as if the game had been played in Mexico City, but diminished some.
My only criticism of that assessment is that the word 'may' can be safely replaced with 'are'! The USA had no home advantage, but the more people believing they did, the better for those looking a little deeper than simply scratching the surface.

Olaf posted an interesting link on the topic of home advantage here.

1 comment:

Interactive Sports Investor said...

lol - Sorry Cassini for calling you Paul not sure what happened there, but have now corrected the error.