Edson Alvarez

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What does USMNT’s, Mexico’s FIFA Rankings surge tell us?

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Rising eight and six places respectively, the USMNT and Mexico can be referred to as the clear-cut big winners – at least within the Top 30 – from FIFA’s latest world rankings released on Thursday. 

El Tri, 12th in the rankings, behind Switzerland and a step above Denmark, had a picture-perfect showing in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, hoisting the trophy in Chicago after winning all six games in the team’s first tournament under Argentine coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino. 

Greg Berhalter’s men, on the other hand, surged their way back into the Top 30 after a solid runner-up performance in the aforementioned tournament. 

But what do the positive, upward trends say about CONCACAF’s giants, though? 

Well, that the new era for both sides, despite being in a premature stage, is looking promising not only for the future of the national sides, but for the overall trajectory of the American and Mexican player along with the sport in North America. 

As both rivals – and their domestic leagues, MLS and Liga MX – continue to amp up the competition and collaboration efforts among each other, the quality and opportunities are increasing exponentially. Such effect continues to garner eyes and interest from worldwide audiences and from scouts in Europe’s top-five leagues. In other words, North Americans are, slowly but surely, becoming constant go-to marquee signings for some of Europe’s best. 

In January, American star, Christian Pulisic, signed for Chelsea after the English giants and Borussia Dortmund agreed to a record $73.1 million fee. An over-the-top purchase for many initially – keeping in mind the 20-year-old’s performance this summer and ascending marketability – the price tag the Blues paid for his services doesn’t seem inflated one bit.  

The Gold Cup also allowed Mexican promise Edson Alvarez to finally make the leap to the other side of the Atlantic. Astute, composed and a natural leader, Alvarez slots in as the natural replacement for either Mattijs de Ligt or Frankie de Jong at Ajax. Both historical and record departures, it speaks volumes about the confidence and legitimacy a recent Champions League semi-finalist has given the Club America and Mexico national team product.  

The USMNT and Mexico swarming up the rankings hand-in-hand is not a new trend, but with the interconnection of current times and the slew of Americans and Mexicans already making a name in Europe, Thursday’s latest rankings is a visual representation that the new era is all about rampant growth for North America’s giants. 

Ajax seals El Tri’s young star Alvarez for $17M

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Ajax has developed a ton of youngsters, and now has a pair of CONCACAF starlets in the fold for 2019-20.

A day after selling Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus for a reported $84 million, the Dutch side has delivered on reports that it wanted Edson Alvarez.

That puts the 21-year-old Mexican defender/defensive midfielder in the Eredivisie side with 18-year-old Dutch-American defender Sergino Dest.

While Dest has yet to break into the full USMNT, playing in the U-20 World Cup this summer, Alvarez already has 28 caps and five goals for El Tri.

He’ll bring a relative wealth of experience from Club America, and Ajax could use him to help offset the sale of Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona. While Alvarez has played a lot of center back in Liga MX, he’s been used at defensive midfielder by Tata Martino with the national team.

The reported fee is $17 million, according to Goal.

Report: Ajax in negotiations to sign El Tri’s Alvarez

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One of the Mexico National Team’s brightest stars appears to be heading to Ajax, where he could potentially be the replacement for one Matthijs de Ligt.

According to a report in Voetbol International, a publication in the Netherlands, Ajax technical director Marc Overmars confirmed the club’s interest in signing Club America and El Tri defender Edson Alvarez. Club America are reportedly demanding nothing less than nearly $17 million for Alvarez, who has in just two years become a regular for El Tri.

[READ: USMNT’s Boyd signs with Besiktas]

The report states that Wolverhampton Wanderers – which has Alvarez’s El Tri teammate Raul Jimenez – and PSV Eindhoven were also interesting in signing Alvarez.

The 21-year-old made his debut for Club America as a right back under long-time Liga MX manager Ricardo La Volpe in 2016, and just a few months after his club debut, he was already playing for the national team. He was included and featured at the 2017 Gold Cup, becoming Mexico’s youngest scorer in the competition (at age 19) and he then started all four of Mexico’s games at the 2018 World Cup, including against Neymar and Brazil in the Round of 16.

Alvarez has continued his strong play over the past year and has moved into more of a centerback and holding midfielder role at times. He played as a No. 6 for Mexico in its 1-0 win over the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2019 Gold Cup final, at times dropping into the back line to defend while providing support in the attack.

As Alvarez is still young but continues to grow, it’s a perfect time for him to join Ajax. There, he’ll face even better attackers than in Liga MX, and he’ll have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to play for a prestigious club like Ajax. The pressure to perform will only make him better, like it’s helped countryman Hirving “Chucky” Lozano across the Netherlands at PSV Eindhoven.

Interestingly, Alvarez would be the second summer signing for Ajax with a North American connection. Defender Kik Pierie was actually born in Boston, while his father was studying at Harvard Medical School, though he’s been raised almost entirely in the Netherlands and has featured for the Oranje internationally.

How about Mexico? Martino posts pair of blowout wins

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Fairly or unfairly, the managerial hires of the United States men’s national team and Mexican NT will be scrutinized and measured against each other more than usual.

Gregg Berhalter and Tata Martino both came from Major League Soccer, albeit with quite different resumes, and both were available to the United States Soccer Federation before general manager Earnie Stewart and the crew settled on Berhalter.

[ MORE: Takeaways from USMNT break ]

The former Columbus Crew man’s early days with the USMNT have been well-covered here, with the Yanks unbeaten in four friendlies following a Tuesday draw with Chile, but about Mexico?

It’s going very, very well.

Martino, of course, is taking over a potentially golden generation of El Tri, and isn’t making his first foray into international management, but there’s little doubt he’s made a tremendous first impression with Mexico.

It wasn’t stylish on Day One, but El Tri was clinical in a 3-1 defeat of Chile which saw Wolves striker Raul Jimenez lead a run of three goals in 13 minutes and goals on all three shots on target.

The second match was more of a runaway, with Mexico scoring three times in the first 24 minutes against Paraguay before the visitors went down to 10 men through a Miguel Almiron red card in a 4-2 El Tri win.

Edson Alvarez, 21, is the only player Martino started in both matches, as Mexico flaunted its depth in the impressive wins.

About the only thing that didn’t go well for Martino was this: (video)