5 of North America’s Most Notable National Football Teams

Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao), Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname and United States were founding members of CONCACAF. The organization was founded in order to organize competitions for member teams and clubs and to conduct qualifying tournaments for the International World Cup and the Women’s World Cup.

None of the CONCACAF teams have ever won a jackpot casino World Cup.  However, the conference, established in 1961, is the third-most successful FIFA confederation with Mexico dominating the men’s competitions and the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Some of the notable teams include:

Mexico

To date, Mexico’s national football team has been the most successful CONCACAF team. Mexico has qualified to 16 World Cups including every qualifying year since 1994 – only one of six countries to do so.

Along with Brazil, the Mexican national team made it out of the group stage over the last seven World Cups. In 1970 and 1986 Mexico reached the quarter-finals in the World Cup which was played in Mexico. In 1999 the team won the FIFA Confederations Cup, the only CONCACAF team to have done so to date.

Recent successes have included the 2018 FIFA World Cup when Mexico defeated defending champion Germany 1-0. That was the first time that Mexico achieved such a win in a World Cup match. They went on to defeat South Korea 2-1 but finally fell to Sweden in the last group stage match.

Panama

The Panamanian national football team is one of the CONCACAF’s most promising teams. The team improves from one year to the next and their best results have been achieved since 2014 when they came close to advancing out of the fourth qualifying rounds for the World Cup.

Panama came back strong in 2018 when they qualified for the FIFA World Cup. They scored a goal against England even though, in the end, they lost the match 6-1.

Panama has been a Gold Cup runner-up in 2005 and 2013 and has competed in the sub-regional Central American Cup championship. In 2009 they won the championship by beating Costa Rica in the final.

Some notable players who have played for Panama include Julio Dely Valdes, Armando Cooper, Blas Perez and Roman Torres.

Costa Rica

The Costa Rica football team was one of the founding members of CONCACAF and has had membership in the Central American Football Union since 1990.  The Costa Rica team is one of CONCACAF’s leading teams, having won three CONCACAF Championships  and eight Copa Centroamericana championships. The Costa Rican team is Central America’s only national team to have played in the five FIFA World Cup editions and has the all time highest average Football Elo Ranking in Central America.

The team’s most recent prominent performance was in the 1990 FIFA World Cup when it made it to the knockout stage after finishing second in their group during Phase 1. They qualified for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and finished first in their group in 2014 after competing in a group that consisted of three former World Cup Champions (Italy, Uruguay and England).

Cuba

Cuba fielded a powerful team in the ‘30s when they became the first Caribbean team to reach the World Cup finals (1938). The team languished until 1966 when they returned to World Cup qualification again but it wasn’t until 1966 that they achieved a breakthrough when they reached the final round of qualifying.

In recent years the Cuban team has achieved some significant goals, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2003 Gold Cup and playing in the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers.  In 2012, Cuba won the Caribbean Cup. In 2014 the Cuban team qualified directly to the Third Round for the World Cup Championship. They were placed in Group C and ranked as one of the six highest ranked teams. They had several close games but ended the qualification process with five defeats and one draw.

United States

The United States men’s national soccer team (USMNT) appeared in the first FIFA World Cup which was held in 1930. The team reached the semi-finals and reached third place. The team’s performance never again reached that level until the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics when the U.S. had a strong showing. By the end of the ‘80s the team was on the road to being rebuilt as they attracted top talent.

In 1990 the newly built team entered the World Cup games as underdogs but by 1993 the players were strong enough to beat England in the U.S. Cup 2-0.  The team moved on to win against Columbia, then the 4th ranked team in the world, 2-1. For the first time since 1930 the U.S. team made it past the initial round, cementing its newfound status as a world powerhouse team with a 4-3 win against Saudi Arabia in 1995.

Since that time the U.S. team has moved up in world standing. In 2014 the team made two consecutive trips to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup. In 2018 the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Today the United States’ biggest CONCACAF rival is Mexico and the two teams are widely considered CONCACAF’s two major powers.

AFI
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