SANTA ANA PUEBLO – Charles and Alexander Touche know what World Cup fever is all about.
Twin brothers born in the Chelsea area of London, they spent their formative years living and breathing soccer as virtually everyone else around them did. The amped-up emotions many Americans feel during the World Cup every four years are just part of the everyday landscape in many other countries.
“In England everyone plays and follows a team,” Charles said. “It’s like a religion almost.”
The Touche brothers now find themselves in more laid-back circumstances, providing an international presence to New Mexico’s Rio Rapids SC ’99 team. The squad is competing in the U15 boys division at this week’s US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships.
Don’t get the idea that Charles and Alexander, who also play prep soccer at Albuquerque Academy, don’t take American competition seriously. Both were clearly disappointed Tuesday morning when Rio Rapids ’99 dropped a hard-fought 2-1 decision to Arizona’s Del Sol ’99 at the New Mexico Soccer Tournament Complex.
It’s just that the Touche brothers have adopted a more Americanized view of the sport they love.
“Everything’s a bit more relaxed here,” Charles said. “Soccer’s not as serious.”
The twins were born in England, home country of their father, Peter Touche. Their mother, Alicia Keyes Touche, attended high school in Albuquerque, and the family relocated to New Mexico when Alexander and Charles were 9, the boys said, because both parents work in the film industry.
Charles and Alexander were introduced to soccer as 4-year-olds, but said they were excited about the prospect of moving to the United States.
“There’s lots of space here, and I really liked it right away,” Alexander said. “It’s sunny all the time instead of rainy every day.”
Nor has the move negatively impacted their soccer. The Touche brothers gave basketball a shot for a few seasons but turned back to what they consider their native sport.
“We’re soccer players,” Alexander said.
No one’s happier about that decision than Rio Rapids ’99 coach Sibby Browne. Charles and Alexander are co-captains on the relatively new squad, which struggled through much of its current season before coming together to win a State Cup title to advance to regionals.
“They’re ideal team captains.” Browne said. “Their maturity level’s good, their physical ability’s very good and their teammates love them. They’ve got that magnetism on the field. I don’t think the British accents hurt either.”
Along with their accents, Charles and Alexander retain at least a bit of British soccer loyalty. They watched and enjoyed the U.S. win over Ghana on Monday but were more emotionally invested in England’s 2-1 loss to Italy on Saturday.
“Frustrating,” Alexander said with a frown.
The twins will be watching intently Thursday when England faces Uruguay in its next group match, but they have personal business to attend to first. Rio Rapids ’99 stands at 1-1-0 in group play and needs a win today if it’s to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals.
It won’t come easily as they must face highly regarded Santa Clara Sporting, which is 2-0 in group play. Still, Browne and his players are looking forward to the opportunity.
“Soccer’s weird because you can control a match, get more scoring chances and still come up short,” Browne said. “That’s what happened to us (against Arizona Del Sol), but it could go the other way (today). The big thing is, we’ve still got everything to play for and that’s really all you can ask.”
Added Alexander: “We just have to bury our chances.”