Chivas USA's Brazilians celebrate No. 1

Marcelo Saragosa and Maicon Santos hail Dunga's Seleção

Brazil
is back on top of the world.

After trading the number one spot in the FIFA World Rankings
with Spain over the course
of the last year and a half, Brazil
has moved back to the top of the list as of Wednesday morning. It’s a move that
Chivas USA players Marcelo Saragosa and Maicon Santos, both native Brazilians,
are pleased to see.

“I’m really happy that Brazil
has returned to the number one spot,” said Saragosa, a native of São Paulo. “I’m really
proud.”

FIFA releases a comprehensive ranking of every team in the
world each month (see it here) based on results from international matches
played across the globe. Spain
has dominated the chart of late, taking the number one spot in 16 of the
last 21 months.

But a 2-0 victory over Ireland on February 3 of this year,
coupled with injury woes for Spain, has pushed Brazil back into the top spot,
much to the delight of Chivas USA’s Brazilians.

“For me, it’s more than just being Brazilian,” Saragosa said.
“I have a number of friends who play for the National Team. I’m really happy
for them.”

Saragosa grew up playing in the youth system of fabled club
São Paulo FC and is a lifelong friend of Brazilian National Team phenom Kaká.
He insists that the culture of soccer in Brazil is what makes the country
such a powerhouse.

“Brazilians are just born with soccer in their blood,” he
said. “You’re playing when you’re only a year old. The country just has a real
passion for the sport and you can see that in the talent of the players.”

Brazil is currently coached by national team legend Dunga.
The team has enjoyed success under the former player, boasting a 37-5-11 record
since his appointment in 2006. After a difficult start for Dunga, the team was
crowned champions of the Copa América in 2007 and the FIFA Confederations Cup
in 2009. In the latter tournament they overcame a 2-0 deficit to the USA in the
final.

“They have a coach who keeps the players grounded,” Saragosa
said. “This is the difference that Dunga makes. There will be lots of
expectations for the team to become champions at the World Cup, but Dunga will
help keep the players grounded and take the tournament step by step.”

Brazil has been drawn into Group G for the 2010 FIFA World
Cup, alongside North Korea, the Ivory Coast, and their former colonizers Portugal.
The Seleção will have their work cut out for them if they are to become
champions for a record sixth time in South Africa.

“Brazil
will be confident, but there is still a lot of work to be done before they can
be crowned champions,” said Maicon Santos, a native of Paracambi. “The World
Cup is never easy. There are a lot of good teams. It’s an incredibly difficult
tournament.”

Brazil kicks off its World Cup campaign against North Korea
on June 15.