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Over the past three decades, the rivalry between the United States and Mexico in men’s soccer has grown from a historically unbalanced rivalry to perhaps the greatest rivalry in international soccer. in the Good competitorsA new three-part documentary series on Prime Video, we take a look at how the rivalry evolved into a passionate battle between neighbors and the cultural and social context in which it took place.


The essentials: Despite its disproportionate influence in so many other areas of North American life, the United States lagged behind its southern neighbor in international football for decades. From the 1930s to the 1980s, Mexico dominated the United States in international play. This began to change in the 1990s after USA hosted the 1994 World Cup, and by the 21st century the balance had shifted from one-sided rivalry to genuine competition and more fervor. in the Good competitorsthe filmmakers not only examine the results on the pitch, but also make the necessary effort to give a cultural context to the complex rivalry between the two nations.

Which movies will it remind you of?: The closest analogue of recent times is probably the burgeoning of Netflix UNSAID Series of standalone sports documentaries that–how Good competitors– do an excellent job of explaining to potentially unfamiliar viewers not only the who and what of a sports story, but why that story is important.

Notable performance: The true strength of Good competitors is that it allows some of the key characters to tell the story themselves. A number of personalities from both sides of the rivalry appear in on-screen interviews, but chief among them are longtime USMNT forward Landon Donovan and his Mexican counterpart Rafael Márquez. Both Donovan and Márquez speak openly and with reverence about their experiences in the rivalry, and that really adds an air of seriousness to the storytelling.

Memorable dialogue: “To be honest, growing up I didn’t know we had a national team,” says former Team USA player Marcelo Balboa, “You never saw it on TV, you never heard about it, and whenever you have done it, you heard they lost three or four to nothing.”

gender and skin: none.

Our opinion: Good competitors doesn’t pretend that the rivalry between the United States and Mexico is all about the sport, and that’s a good thing. To do so would be to ignore an inseparable part of the conflict that was political and cultural from the start. While explaining the history of the actions on the field, the filmmakers also examine the conflicts between the two countries over immigration and border control, realizing how deeply intertwined the two sides are. This isn’t just a sports story; it is a cultural history.

However, this broad focus doesn’t detract from the sporting aspect, but brings it out boldly by showing how deep lie the emotions that underlie each game. It’s not just about World Cup qualifying or Dos a Cero or anything else that happens on the pitch, but when those moments happen, they’re charged by the things that happen outside the lines.

All of this could make it seem Good competitors is an overly serious burden, but that is far from the case. This is a lively, entertaining documentary that keeps things moving fast and with high production values. Whether you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the history between the American and Mexican teams, or are just vaguely aware of the times they play because of all the people on social media yelling DOS A CERO, Good competitors has something to offer. It’s a sharp, entertaining introduction to one of the world’s greatest sporting rivalries, one that only grows as the US seeks to become a bigger player on the international soccer scene.

It’s also not a one-page documentary from an American point of view – many personalities associated with the Mexico team appear here, many being interviewed in Spanish (with subtitles) about their team’s long history and what the rivalry means to them.

Our appeal: Stream it. We’re in the middle of a World Cup, but there’s downtime between games and you’re already set for a big fight. watch Good competitors while waiting for the next game.

Scott Hines is an architect, blogger, and veteran internet user from Louisville, Kentucky who publishes the ever-popular Campaign cookbook newsletter.

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