Mike Koeshartanto

Hispanic Heritage Month in MLS: A Recap

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month has been a long-standing tradition in Major League Soccer (MLS). As a fan of the league since 1996, it has been interesting to see the number of ways in which the league and teams have chosen to honor the month-long celebration digitally, in-game, and through local events.

For example, in 2004, Amado Guevara, Marco Etcheverry, and Eliseo Quintanilla were part of a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the White House. In 2012, MLS partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps to produce an online video series highlighting Hispanic players and their path to success in Journey to Excellence.

The growth of MLS amongst the Hispanic audience on both a league and local level has opened the door for more Latin players. According to MLSsoccer.com, roughly 38 percent of current players born outside the U.S. and Canada are from Hispanic countries. Players like Jaime Moreno and Carlos Valderrama, Hispanic originals, created a pathway to success for Hispanic newcomers like Juan Sebastian Veron and Jordi Quintilla. In support of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Columbus Crew wrote a great article detailing the history of Hispanic players coming to the club and integrating into not only the club atmosphere, but also the local Columbus community.

To further recognize the Hispanic players’ impact on the league’s history, FutbolMLS.com and Univision put together their roster (starting eleven, bench players, and coach) of the best Hispanic players in MLS history. The starting lineup is below, but you can check out the full roster and player descriptions here.

Starting XI: Nick Rimando, Jámison Olave, Omar González, Marcelo Balboa, Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama, Marco “Diablo” Etcheverry, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Jaime Moreno, Carlos “El Pescadito” Ruiz, (coach) Oscar Pareja

While browsing through the league and club websites, it was great to see the multitude of ways in which Hispanic Heritage Month was celebrated. One initiative that caught my attention was Allstate’s work with MLS and Univision where, for every game on Univision, the two competing teams pick a local organization to serve as the program beneficiary. Then for every save a team accumulates on the Allstate Official Save Tracker, $500 worth of soccer equipment is donated to the local organization of choice. To learn more about the Every Save Makes a Difference program, click here.

Over on the West Coast, the newest and arguably most important LA Galaxy Designated Player, Giovani Dos Santos, has been on quite a whirlwind tour with his new team. As a star of the Mexican National Team, his name recognition amongst the Hispanic and Mexican community is second-to-none. To take full advantage of his popularity and the timing of his arrival, Dos Santos served as the Grand Marshall of the 69th annual East LA Mexican Independence Parade.


Up in San Jose, Modelo, the official Mexican beer of the Earthquakes, was joined by other brands like Jack in the Box to help celebrate Mexican Heritage Night. Upon entering the stadium gates, fans were greeted by Mariachi Juvenil Alma de Mexico and local Latin stars SuenaTron. At halftime, the San Jose-based Tezkatlipoka Aztec Dance and Drum group performed traditional Aztec song and dance. The Earthquakes also donated $1 from every ticket to the San Jose City College Latino Education Association when fans used the losquakes promo code.


Different than the Galaxy or the Earthquakes, to celebrate the Hispanic backgrounds of many of their players, the Portland Timbers produced a video featuring Diego Chara, Jorge Villafaña, Diego Valeri, and Jeanderson. Presented by brands like Providence Health, Don Pancho, and Chelada, the video lives in the Somos Timbers portion of the website, which focuses on coverage of the team in Spanish. Click here to watch the video.

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Teams across the league produced a variety of Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, which I’ve tried to illustrate, but I’m not sure any team produced a comprehensive amount of coverage like the Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo planned a full month’s worth of activities with celebrations at home games, as well as a reoccurring content series including Q&As with players, authentic recipes, and player and country features. Click here to see the full month schedule.

The Dynamo devoted various segments of time to highlight the Hispanic countries from which their players hail (Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Argentina, Spain). For example, during the week of Oct. 4-10th, the Dynamo highlighted Argentina and Leonel Miranda, producing an infographic filled with Argentina’s rich soccer history, discussing Leonel’s favorite dish, and highlighting his adaptation to Houston.

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Reaching the Hispanic market through soccer is a pillar of our agency, and it’s work we pride ourselves on.

Have a great Hispanic Heritage activation we haven’t mentioned, or have a thought on those we did? Leave your comments below, we’d love to hear from you.

Categories: Featured, Hispanic Marketing, Major League Soccer