This week in the Continental XI series, I have decided to do a North American team. The team may be a bit dull due to the heavy Mexican presence, however, North America only has three major nations and the only one whose national sport is football is Mexico. Here is the team:
GK-Brad Friedel has had a brilliant career, and is one of the few Americans to have made the move from America to Europe. He has spent nearly 16 years in the Premier League. He has shown the USA’s ability to produce brilliant goalkeepers. He just beats Kasey Keller, Antonio Carbajal and Jorge Campos to the goalkeeper spot.
RCB-Rafael Márquez was the first Mexican to win the UEFA Champions League. He was very dependable at the back, with is physical strentght and surprising speed saving lots of goals. Márquez, after playing for Atlas and then Monaco, made the move to giants Barcelona. There he won 12 cups in 7 seasons. He now currently plays for the New York Red Bulls.
CB-David Edgar is the only Canadian in this team. While some may question his inclusion, Edgar has been a solid centre back in the English divisions for quite a while. I also felt that Canada deserved a player in this team. Edgar currently plays for Burnley in the Championship, but has played for Newcastle United and Swansea City.
LCB-Carlos Salcido will bring pace to this back three. He is the best left-back Mexico have ever produced and is brilliant going forward. Though I am playing him slightly out of position, I feel that he can cope with the positional change as he is a very versatile player. He currently plays for Tigres in Mexico but did play for PSV in the Netherlands and Fulham in England.
RCM-Claudio Reyna is one of the best midfielders the USA has ever produced. Bayer Leverkusen, Rangers, Sunderland, Manchester City and the New York Red Bulls are all teams that Reyna has played for. He scored 7 goals in his time in England and captained the USA at the 2006 World Cup.
LCM-Luis De La Fuente was one of the first Mexicans to play abroad, playing for Racing Santander and, later, for Corrales in Uruguay and Vélez Sársfield in Argentina. El Pirata, or the Pirate, was so nicknamed because his Dad owned ships in which he used to play in as a child. He is such a Mexican legend that he has a stadium named after him, the Luis “Pirata” De La Fuente Stadium, home of Veracruz. It holds 30,000 people.
RM-Landon Donovan is arguably the greatest USA player of all time. He has played in Germany and England, showing great goal scoring ability and speed. Perhaps, if he had stayed in Europe, he may have become an even better player. At one point, when he trained with Bayern München, it looked like he would become a future world great. He has scored 49 goals for his country making a massive 149 appearances.
LM-Salvador Reyes is Chivas Guadalajara’s top goal scorer in club history, having scored 122 goals for them. At the age of 71, Chivas showed their gratefulness to him by letting him take kick-off in a game against Pumas on January 19, 2008. While not a left-midfielder, I am hoping that all of my offensive players, my RM, my LM, my RF, my LF and my ST would all interchange, causing havoc for defences.
RF-Horacio Casarín started his career as a defender, and may actually be a better choice for the left midfield role. Anyway, he moved further forward as his career progressed, having an astonishing goals to games ratio for Mexico; 15 in 16 games! In 1938, he was part of the national side that won the gold medal for Mexico at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Panama. At his peak, a bad injury hit him and the fans of his club, Necaxa; were so angry that they burnt the Asturias’ stadium! He later moved to Barcelona but sadly could not replicate his previously impressive form.
ST-Cuauhtémoc Blanco is Mexico’s second highest goal scorer, with 39 goals. While being a very controversial player, he is one of the greatest players Mexico has produced. He is joint top scorer in Confederations Cup history, level with Ronaldinho. He has played in 3 World Cups with Mexico. He may be remembered by English fans for scoring the second goal against France, a penalty, in the 2010 World Cup.
LF-Hugo Sánchez has scored more European goals than any other Mexican. Perhaps I have saved the best till last! He won 5 pichichi awards, given to the top scorer in La Liga, playing for both Madrid clubs: Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid. With Real Madrid he won 5 La Liga titles, 1 Copa del Rey and 3 Spanish Supercups. Take a bow son!
While making this team, it was very hard not to include Jared Borgetti, the Mexican national team’s top scorer who played for Bolton. I really could have put 8 up front, such is the attacking talent of these nations, especially Mexico. Other players who deserve a special mention are Brian McBride, Kasey Keller, John Harkes, Thomas Dooley, Eric Wynalda, Joe-Max Moore, Eddie Pope, Junior Hoilett, Antonio Felix “Tota” Carbajal, Claudio Suárez, etc. I have, inevitably missed some greats of the list, I apologise for this, however, my knowledge of North American footballers is not the best!