United States forward Landon Donovan walks away after being called for a foul on Panama midfielder Alberto Quintero during the first half of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final at Soldier Field in Chicago. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
June 18 (UPI) -- Some of Landon Donovan's former United States Men's National Team teammates are not joining him in rooting for Mexico at the 2018 World Cup.
Donovan sparked debate on social media Saturday when he posted an advertisement on his social media accounts holding up a banner that read "My other team is Mexico."
"The Tournament is here! USA fans, our team may not be in Russia, but our neighbors to the south are," Donovan wrote for the caption.
The former USMNT captain also called on fans to cheer on Mexico at the World Cup.
On Sunday, former USMNT star Cobi Jones posted an Instagram message saying: "Nah man! Mexico is not 'my team.' Mexico is a rival in CONCACAF. In sport there is something sacred about rivalries. Meaning and history behind them! I don't see Brazil cheering for Argentina. England cheering for Germany. Barca for Madrid. Man U for Liverpool or Lakers for Clippers. Yankees/Red Sox etc ... It's sports and you're allowed to cheer against someone. Let alone your regional rival!"
ESPN analyst and former USMNT player Taylor Twellman also said he wouldn't be rooting for Mexico.
"I'd rather cut off my toe than 'root for [Mexican flag] and I'm on the outside on this one, but how could I root for my/our rival? Imagine any [Chilean] players rooting for [Argentina] today," Twellman tweeted. "I can't imagine how American Outlaws would feel if I rooted for Mexico ... but then again I'm old school."
Carlos Bocanegra responded to Donovan's tweet by writing: "Really?"
But players are split when it comes to cheering for other countries when the United States isn't participating in the sports biggest tournament. USMNT defender Omar Gonzalez told UPI before the World Cup that he would be cheering for players from different countries, due to the relationship he has with them from being teammates on other clubs.
Still, Donovan offered a long explanation for his backing of Mexico with a post on Sunday.
He first explained that he was participating in the advertisement before discussing his patriotism.
"To begin, my heart bleeds red, white and blue and no one should ever question my allegiance to and support of U.S. Soccer and all of its national teams," he wrote. "That being said, having grown up east of Los Angeles playing with Mexican teammates whose passion for futbol inspired me at a very young age, as well as recently with club Leon in Liga MX, I always have a strong connection and respect for our neighbor."
Donovan said he wants to see Mexico do well and if others disagree, that is there prerogative."
"I believe in supporting each other and building bridges, not barriers," he added.
Leon announced on Sunday that it was severing ties with Donovan.
Jones is one spot ahead of Donovan as the most capped player in USMNT history. Donovan is tied with Clint Dempsey for the most goals in team history at 57.
Mexico beat 2014 World Cup champion Germany 1-0 on Sunday. The Mexicans take on South Korea in their second Group F matchup at 11 a.m. Saturday in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.
Donovan, 36, made his senior debut in 2000 for the USMNT.