While the United States’ U-23 side was at best underwhelming and at worst very poor in failing to qualify for the Olympics, the senior national team delivered the expected goods in controlling performances against Jamaica and a second-choice Northern Ireland in Europe this international break.
The Olympics no longer an option for the Americans, attention is turning to the three big tournaments this Spring and Summer. After an intriguing friendly against Switzerland, the Yanks can become the first team to win the CONCACAF Nations League, then reclaim the Gold Cup, and finally begin World Cup qualifying again.
This is where Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT will take the first proper steps in making amends for their sloppy capitulation to Trinidad and Tobago that saw them miss the World Cup under Jurgen Klinsmann and then Bruce Arena.
Should the Yanks deliver on their promise of a Golden Generation, it’s likely they’ll also finally reverse a run of losing against heated rivals Mexico.
El Tri is unbeaten in its last four meaningful matches against the U.S., beating them at the 2019 Gold Cup and 2015 CONCACAF Cup while taking four of six points from the Hex in 2018 World Cup qualifying.
[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]
While the Yanks have beaten Mexico in a 2018 friendly, they were also waxed in a 2019 friendly. It’s all combined with the World Cup qualifying failure to put a series that has swung wildly since 1991 squarely in the colors green, white, and red.
Mexico boasts a 38W-14D-20L record against their northern neighbors, but it’s been neck-and-neck since the U.S. put an end to a 46-year wait between wins.
After the U.S. beat Mexico 4-2 at the 1934 World Cup, El Tri took decades of revenge. The Mexican national team routinely hung a half-dozen goals on the United States, winning 24 matches and drawing three before the Americans won a 1980 World Cup qualifier on U.S. soil.
Since then, it’s been a real scrap. Mexico has won 15 times since that U.S. win on Nov. 23, 1980. The U.S. has 19 wins including the November one, and the teams have drawn 11.
In a perfect world, the two sides will measure up against each other twice before World Cup qualifying.
The United States will be heavy favorites to beat Honduras on June 3 in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals, while Mexico will be expected to beat Costa Rica ahead of a June 6 final.
The Americans and Mexicans cannot meet in the Gold Cup before the semifinals and perhaps even the final should both win their groups.
So that got us wondering, as we measure the incredible promise of this USMNT — with contributors at Chelsea, Barcelona, Juventus, and RB Leipzig all just beginning to come into the primes of their careers and several others years away from their primes but already pitching in for Borussia Dortmund, Valencia, and Bayern Munich (or, for now, Hoffenheim) — where is Mexico going?
We’ve seen the American list, but what’s is El Tri’s ranking of the top 25 in the player pool right now?
At surface level, it’s difficult to judge and even harder to compare to the United States given Mexico’s stronger and deeper domestic league. Throwing in Olympic qualifying further muddies the waters because Mexico brought an experienced U-23 side to qualifying while the U.S. tried a lot of kids instead of trusting its MLS-based experienced players.
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And while the U.S. is just about to enter the prime of a possible Golden Generation, Mexico is in the middle of one but may just be exiting it. El Tri also has proven more against better opponents in the last year, boasting wins on European soil against the Netherlands, South Korea, and Japan, while losing to Wales in this international break before a win over Costa Rica in Austria (or as we like to call it, the CONCACAF of the European peninsula).
Anyway, the top 25 players in the Mexico national team player pool is not an easy list to top, especially since the nation’s best export has yet to return from a long-term head injury.
But we’ll keep Raul Jimenez atop the list as we look at where Mexico’s best contributors ply their trade ahead of a busy summer. This won’t be a 1-25, like the USMNT list, rather a list of 25 players in a relatively ranked order.
El Tri fans undoubtedly have their own preferences and may rate Liga MX a bit lower than we do, so please do respond with who’s missing, who’s overhyped, and more.
1. Raul Jimenez, Wolves
2. Hirving Lozano, Napoli
3. Jesus Corona, Porto
4. Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid
5. Diego Lainez , Real Betis
6. Edson Alvarez, Ajax
7. Carlos Salcedo, UANL
8. Erick Aguirre, Pachuca
9. Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo
10. Uriel Antuna, Chivas Guadalajara
11. Jesus Gallardo, Monterrey
12. Andres Guardado, Real Betis
13. Luis Montes, Leon
14. Alfredo Talavera, UNAM
15. Guillermo Ochoa, Club America
16. Alexis Vega, Chivas Guadalajara
17. Jonathan dos Santos, LA Galaxy
18. Johan Vasquez, UNAM
19. Cristian Calderon, Chivas Guadalajara
20. JJ Macias, Guadalajara
21. Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven
22. Carlos “Charly” Rodriguez, Monterrey
23. Roberto Alvarado, Cruz Azul
24. Santiago Munoz, Santos Laguna
25. Alan Pulido, Sporting KC