RR: Before we start, can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you hail from?
My name is Ruben Carrion II and I’m 28 years old. I was born in San Antonio, Texas. I was raised in and around the area and have lived here my whole life. I went to college in Indiana at the University of Notre Dame and loved my time there but definitely came back home after my time there.
I am currently working in the transplant department of a local hospital. I am a fan of many sports including Basketball, American Football, Baseball, and of course Football. I would say Soccer but I don’t want to anger anyone. The teams I back are mainly Notre Dame, the Dallas Cowboys, the San Antonio Spurs, and SAFCs. (Yes that is plural)
RR: Why Sunderland, then? I ask myself this all the time, but supporting SAFC wasn’t a choice for me...
I have always enjoyed Football and watching it with my family. Being in the United States can make that tough at times however, it isn’t always the most talked about or publicized sport in America. With very little radio or TV coverage. This made really getting behind one team difficult. I always wanted to back a team in Europe but I never really felt a pull towards any of the teams. It would have been easy to jump on as a Manchester or Barcelona fan but I didn’t have the heart in it.
But in 2016 San Antonio was awarded a USL franchise. I don’t know how much about American leagues your followers know, but this would be equivalent to adding a team to the EFL Championship. Not skill wise but in terms of tier. I was very happy to hear this. Especially because the owners are the same group that own the San Antonio Spurs.
Because I was out of school and working now at that point I was able to become a season ticket member of the newly created San Antonio FC.
I have to give a shout out here to Sunderland and San Antonio FC’s PR teams, or at least whoever runs their twitter. My memory of the timing here is fuzzy but I believe that in the middle of Sunderland’s first season in League One. There was a trend going around among football clubs from all over the world. It included teams with similar abbreviations. Thus how I came to discover Sunderland AFC. This kind of crazy chance occurrence, for whatever reason, left a lasting impression on me and I have since been a loyal follower of Sunderland.
My backing was only hardened when I saw the kind of support the surrounding area gives Sunderland. That fans could be moved to tears when talking about their team. This mirrors how the people of San Antonio feel about the Spurs so this is not a new feeling to me. Sunderland ‘til I Die being released was an amazing thing for me. It gave me a chance to really get to know what type of club I was supporting and the loyalty of their fans. Most people scoff or laugh when I tell them I support Sunderland but I don’t care because my fanhood has grown organically and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
RR: Do you fly the flag for Sunderland in San Antonio, then? I have this vision of fans abroad that they make sure everyone knows who they represent...
I would very much like to fly the flag for Sunderland. However, good genuine merchandise is very hard to find here in the States. The shipping cost alone can be a killer. I did have to save a little bit for a Sunderland polo with the crest because I hated not having anything to express my representation. I know I might be a reach but I’d love to find a group around here to try and watch some games with.
RR: Who is your favourite player of all time?
If we are talking strictly about Sunderland, I must admit I am mostly naive about the greats that have played before now. I know of Sunderland’s storied past but have not had anyone tell me of the individual players. Catts would have to be up there for me though. Having a player play many years for a single team really hits home for me. Currently I thoroughly wish nothing but the best for O’Nien, Gooch, and McGeady. I have enjoyed watching them these past few seasons.
RR: As an American, how is it seeing one of your countrymen playing for Sunderland (I know he’s lost the accent a bit like, but still...)?
It is incredible! I wish more people knew about people like him playing well overseas. I feel like it would definitely help grow the sport more here in America. I can forgive the accent bit though. Most people say I don’t sound like I’m from Texas or the South but I do say yall a lot. Yall will just have to bring him back for a friendly against San Antonio.
RR: Do you own any cool SAFC memorabilia?
Sadly the only item in my collection is the Sunderland polo with crest. I really want to add more so hopefully I can soon. My next items would have to be a kit, scarf, and flag.
RR: Are you part of any supporter groups? Do you know any other fans out there?
No I am only able to follow through twitter and the few games on ESPN+. The time difference makes things difficult as the games are usually during work on Tuesdays and at 9am on Saturdays. As I said before though finding a group around here would be nice.
RR: What’s your one wish for the club?
I truly just want a club I can be proud of. I know our run of form lately has left many wanting more. I can see the lads truly put their heart behind their play. So a promotion this year would be incredible. I hope that one day I could see them play in the Premier League again. That’s my wish for the club. Mine would be to see a game at the Stadium of Light. That trip is hard to pull off though and impossible now. Seeing them come over and play in the states would be great as well but that may be awhile.