The 50 Greatest CONCACAF Players of All Time

?The 2019 Gold Cup concluded with Mexico coming out on top against USA in a 1-0 win in Chicago to be crowned champions of CONCACAF.

With that in mind, now is as good a time as any to reflect on some of the very best players to have come out of the region.

Without further ado, here’s 90min’s official attempt to rank the 50 greatest CONCACAF players of all time.


50.) Craig Forrest

Craig Forrest

The only Canadian to feature on this list, Craig Forrest forged a decent career for himself in England, fielding for Ipswich and West Ham.

He’s, unfortunately, best known for the fact that he once conceded nine goals in a single game against Manchester United, but he was a near ever-present at Ipswich, making over 250 appearances between the sticks for the Tractor Boys. He also earned the MVP award at the 2000 Gold Cup.


49.) Wilson Palacios

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Wilson Palacios’ Premier League career began to peter out during his third season at ?Tottenham in 2010, but he was previously considered to be one of the most complete midfielders in England and spent time with Wigan Athletic, Birmingham City (on loan) and Stoke City.

The Honduran has also made just shy of 100 appearances for his national side, playing a starring role in Los Catrachos’ qualifying campaigns for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.


48.) Bryan Ruiz

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A silky playmaker at his best, Bryan Ruiz 12-year career in Europe had its fair share of ups and downs. However, he remains one of Costa Rica’s best exports, with his most impressive performances coming for FC Twente.

He’s made over 125 appearances for Costa Rica, notably scoring two of the most important goals in the country’s history at the 2014 World Cup as they surprised everyone in reaching the quarter-finals.


47.) Brian McBride

South Korea v USA X

An incredibly popular figure at Fulham, Brian McBride forged a reputation as a hard-working striker who was named as the club’s captain in 2007 following a string of impressive seasons at Craven Cottage.

The American scored 40 goals in 140 appearances for the Cottagers, as well as becoming one of the greatest ever strikers for the USMNT, finding the back of the net in two World Cups – including a memorable effort against arch-rivals Mexico in 2002.


46.) Ricardo Fuller

Ricardo Fuller,Jermaine Pennant

A key member of the Tony Pullis Stoke side that earned promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 2008, Jamaican striker Ricardo Fuller was certainly a divisive figure, but an effective one none the less.

His disciplinary record was far from exemplary, but his fiery attitude didn’t stop him from achieving plenty of success in front of goal, as he managed to find the back of the net over 100 times during spells with the likes of Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Stoke


45.) Tony Meola

Tony Meola #1

A pioneering goalkeeper for USA, Tony Meola made over 100 appearances on the international stage, most notably playing in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups – captaining the side at the latter.

His most notable achievement came in 2000, when he guided Kansas City Wizards to the MLS title, earning the League MVP, Goalkeeper of the Year and MLS Cup MVP after keeping a record 16 clean sheets along the way.


44.) Jlloyd Samuel

Henri Camara,Jlloyd Samuel

Born in Trinidad & Tobago, Jlloyd Samuel represented England at various youth levels before making two senior appearances for the Caribbean nation in 2009.

A talented defender who made just shy of 200 appearances for Aston Villa, Samuel also featured for Bolton between 2007 and 2011, featuring in the Trotters memorable UEFA Cup run in 2008 – playing both legs in their win over Atletico Madrid. 


43.) Frank Sinclair

Frank Sinclair

Frank Sinclair graduated from ?Chelsea’s academy setup In 1990 and went on to become a first tam regular for the Blues in the 1990s, playing his part in their FA Cup and League Cup wins towards the end of the decade.

The defender was one of a number of English-born players to represent Jamaica at their one and only World Cup and then secured the second League League Cup title of his career with Leicester in 2000.


42.) Pascal Chimbonda

Pascal Chimbonda

Pascal Chimbonda was a part of France’s 2006 World Cup squad and made one brief cameo appearance for Les Bleus in an international friendly, but he also made six appearances for the country of his birth, Guadeloupe.

Chimbonda is best known for his time with Wigan and Tottenham, where he achieved cult-hero status for both sides. His best form came during the 2005/06 season with the Latics, as he was voted into the Premier League PFA Team of the Year.


41.) Wes Morgan

Wes Morgan

Wes Morgan wrote himself into Premier League folklore after captaining ?Leicester to the most unlikely of titles in 2015/16, playing every minute of every match as the Foxes managed to shock the world.

His achievements aren’t just restricted to that once in a lifetime accomplishment either. He played his part in Leicester’s run to the Champions League quarter-finals a year later and, on the international stage, captained Jamaica to the Gold Cup final in 2015.


40.) Jermaine Jones

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Born in Germany, Jermaine Jones made three appearances for Die Mannschaft before switching allegiance to USA in 2010, who he went on to represent 69 times until 2017.

The defensive midfielder spent the majority of his career in the Bundesliga, featuring for Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke. Jones finally went over to Major League Soccer after the World Cup in Brazil – a tournament in whch he scored in against Germany.


39.) Cobi Jones

Cobi Jones

Cobi Jones is the record appearance maker for USA having made 164 appearances for the States between 1992 and 2004, registering 15 goals along the way.

He’s also a club legend for LA Galaxy, having joined the club upon their formation in 1996, going on to play for the decorated MLS side for 11 years before hanging up his boots in 2007.


38.) Robbie Earle

Robbie Earle and Alain Goma

After starting out his career with Stoke, Robbie Earle went on to get his big break with Port Vale, flourishing for the Valiants during the 1980s, before moving on to Wimbledon in 1991.

He was an extremely popular figure at the club, captaining the ‘Crazy Gang’ for five years until his retirement from the game in 2000. He also made history at the 1998 World Cup, scoring Jamaica’s first ever World Cup finals goal against Croatia.


37.) Kasey Keller

Kasey Keller

One of the first Americans to ever truly establish himself oversees, Kasey Keller was a solid goalkeeper who enjoyed a lengthy career in England, Spain and Germany.

Starting off with Millwall – where he was voted Player of the Year for the 1992/93 season – Keller also played for Leicester City, Rayo Vallecano, Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Monchengladbach, before rounding off his playing days with Seattle Sounders in 2011.


36.) Hirving Lozano

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Hirving Lozano certainly has the potential to become one of the best Mexican players of all time but, despite his undeniable talent, he is still just 23-years-old and has plenty to prove. 

‘Chucky’ has been playing in Europe for just two years, but it’s fair to say that he has made a name for himself. 40 goals and 23 assists in two seasons demonstrate just how lethal he can be in the final third and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make the next step up before too long.


35.) John Brooks

John Anthony Brooks

John Brooks is one of a number of German-born players in the current USA setup and recently developed into a well-rounded and respected central defender in the Bundesliga.

He made the switch from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg in 2017 and, after an injury-stricken debut campaign, was in fine form for the Wolves in 2018/19 and inspired them to an unexpected sixth place finish in the league.


34.) Eddie Pope

Holland v USA

One of the best defenders in MLS history, Eddie Pope was named in the league’s best XI on four separate occasions during his time with D.C. United and MetroStars.

Pope was an all-action defender who provided a significant aerial threat and his importance to the USA national team cannot be underestimated. He made 82 appearances for the national side and, significantly, started every single one of them.


?33.) Carlos Salcido

Carlos Salcido

Still going strong at 39-years-old, Carlos Salcido started off as an uncompromising and tireless wing-back before gradually converting into a solid defensive-midfielder.

He’s achieved great success throughout his career, winning plenty of silverware on all levels, including two Eredivisie titles, an Olympic gold medal and a Gold Cup.


32.) Ricardo Gardner

Ricardo Gardner

Following his impressive performances for Jamaica at the 1998 World Cup, Ricardo Gardner joined Bolton Wanderers and immediately established himself as a fan favourite.

He spent 14 years with the Trotters, making 342 appearances in all competitions, primarily playing as a left winger and left wing back. He earned over 100 caps for the Reggae Boyz, who he captained between 2005 and 2012. 


31.) Shaka Hislop

Trinidad and Tobago's goalkeeper Shaka H

Born in London, Shaka Hislop went on to represent Trinidad & Tobago on the international scene, despite previously making an appearance for England Under-21s.

Hislop spent almost the entirety of his playing career in England where he played for Reading, Newcastle, West Ham and Portsmouth, being well-received by supporters at every club. He also featured in the 2006 FA Cup final and at the World Cup the same year – a final hurrah before retiring in 2007.


30.) Tab Ramos

Tab Ramos

Crafty and fleet-footed, Tab Ramos was a gifted attacking midfielder who became the first player to officially sign with Major League Soccer in 1996.

Ramos was far from prolific in the final third, but he provided the creative spark for USA during the 90s and, when he did score, his goals tended to come at pivotal moments – including a strike against Costa Rica which sent USA on their way to the 1990 World Cup.


29.) Alexi Lalas

FUSSBALL: Nationalmannschaft USA 02.11.97

The poster boy for the 1994 World Cup, Alexi Lalas remains the most iconic American footballer of all time – owing partly to his unique beard and hair combo.

His questionable barnet aside, Lalas was an accomplished defender, who was USA’s standout performer at their home World Cup. He went on to become the first American to ply his trade in Italy with Padova and made just shy of 100 appearances for the national team. 


28.) Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic

There’s no questioning Christian Pulisic’s talent and his move to Chelsea could help him take his game to the next level, but he still has so much more to give.

An argument could be made to suggest that he’s the most talented individual USA has ever produced and, if he’s able to impress at Stamford Bridge in 2018/19, then he’ll be making the first steps to unquestionable superstardom.


27.) DeMarcus Beasley

DaMarcus Beasley

A four-time Gold Cup winner with USA, DaMarcus Beasley recently announced his retirement from the game after a largely successful 20-year career spent playing in the MLS and Europe.

He fell out of favour with the national team for a number of years but managed to sufficiently adapt his game to develop into a left-back, after previously fielding as an orthodox winger. 

He made 126 appearances for USA and earned two league titles with both PSV Eindhoven and Rangers.


26.) Guillermo Ochoa

Guillermo Ochoa

There is something about the Mexican shirt that brings the very best out of Guillermo Ochoa. The keeper’s club career has been a little underwhelming, but he looks like an entirely different prospect whenever he graces the international stage.

That has been particularly evident at the past two World Cups, where he has staked a claim for the tournament’s Golden Glove award on both occasions with some truly spectacular performances. His showing against Brazil at the 2014 World Cup was a particular highlight, as he single-handedly earned his side a point which proved vital in their qualification to the knockout rounds. 


25.) Carlos Bocanegra

US defender Carlos Bocanegra eyes the ba

Very few Americans had established themselves in Europe and even fewer had made the cut in England prior to Carlos Bocanegra’s arrival at Fulham in 2004.

He was a sharp defender with a impressive turn of pace during his early years, but his game was later defined by his acute sense of positioning and timing. He captained Fulham, Rangers and the national team, which exemplifies his impressive leadership skills.


24.) Shaun Goater

Shaun Goater

Best known for his goalscoring exploits with Manchester City, Shaun Goater was a physically imposing striker who was consistently prolific at every club he represented.

Starting off with Rotherham, the Bermudan went on to feature for Bristol City, before making the move to the Citizens, where he scored 84 goals in five seasons, before moving on in 2003. He also made 36 appearances for Bermuda, registering 32 goals.


23.) Carlos Vela

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Carlos Vela didn’t necessarily live up to the huge hype surrounding him when he first joined ?Arsenal in 2005 but, although he wasn’t able to make an impression at the Emirates, he’s gone on to enjoy decent spells at Real Sociedad and Los Angeles FC.

The Mexican registered an impressive 73 goals and 45 assists during his time with Sociedad, before he made the move over to MLS, where he has been virtually unstoppable. In 2019 alone, Vela has found the back of the net 19 times in 19 appearances.


22.) Michael Bradley 

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Physically imposing and tactically versatile, Michael Bradley is an archetypal box-to-box midfielder who has remained a consistent presence for USA ever since he made his debut for the national team in 2006.

Bradley established himself in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy before returning to North America with Toronto in 2014, later captaining them to the MLS Cup in 2017 – the same year he also captained USA to the Gold Cup.


21.) Andres Guardado 

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Andres Guardado is closing in on becoming Mexico’s record appearance maker and, despite being 32-years-old, he has shown no signs of slowing down just yet.

He’s currently plying his trade at Real Betis, but he has also previously lined up for Deportivo La Coruna, Valencia and PSV Eindhoven, where he gradually adapted to become a well-rounded central midfielder who has also guided Mexico three Gold Cup titles.


20.) Jorge Campos

Jorge Campos

Jorge Campos was a unique goalkeeper in every sense of the word. He started off his professional career as a striker and those skills transferred into his playing style between the sticks, which was eccentric to say the least.

Standing at just 5ft 6in, Campos had to rely on his speed and acrobatic skills to help him overcome his lack of height. Despite being such an unorthodox figure, Campos was one of the most iconic Mexican players of all time and he featured between the sticks at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups – designing his own kits.


19.) Paulo Wanchope

Paulo Wanchope celebrates

Paulo Wanchope’s time in the Premier League was full of ups and downs but for the most part he was a dangerous striker who held a decent scoring record at Derby, West Ham and Manchester City.

His club form was reasonably impressive, but it was on the international stage where he really shone, scoring 45 goals in 73 appearances, becoming the most important figure in the country’s footballing history during his 12 years with the national team. 

He also became the first and only Costa Rican to ever score twice in a single World Cup match with a brace against Germany in 2006.


18.) Horacio Casarin

Horacio Casarin was one of the most important figures in Mexican football history, Horacio Casarin started off his career as a defender before adapting into a gifted striker.

He scored 256 goals during his glittering career, where he took to the field for Necaxa, Atlante, Barcelona and Real Club Espana amongst others. He also earned 16 caps for El Tri, scoring 15 goals in the process, and took to the field at the 1950 World Cup.


17.) Luis De La Fuente

Luis De La Fuente became the first Mexican to play in Europe when he signed for Racing Santander in 1934 and he continued to represent the Spanish outfit until the Civil War forced him to move back to Mexico in 1939.

He was highly regarded as one of the most talented midfielders of his generation, with his impressive distributive skills underpinning his playing style. Upon his death in 1972, the Veracruz stadium was renamed in his honour.


16.) Antonio Carbajal

The first player to appear in five World Cups – a feat which has only be equalled three times – Antonio Carbajal goes down as one of the all-time greats of Mexican football.

The goalkeeper played in every edition of the tournament from 1950 through to 1966 and spent the majority of his professional career with Leon, who he played for 364 times before hanging up his gloves after his final World Cup.


15.) Jared Borgetti

Jared Borgetti

?The second-highest scorer of all time for Mexico, Jared Borgetti was a prolific striker whose impressive aerial ability helped him bang in the goals for Santos Laguna.

The ‘Desert Fox’ netted 189 goals in 295 appearances for the Mexican outfit and, despite playing for the national team since 1994, he only managed to achieve widespread acclaim after his performances at the 2005 Confederations Cup, where he scored three goals against Brazil and Germany. 


14.) Claudio Reyna

Claudio Reyna of the USA

 A veteran of three World Cups, Claudio Reyna made over 100 appearances for USA and forged a very respectable career for himself in Europe, impressing at Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Rangers, Sunderland and Manchester City.

A calming presence in midfield, Reyna was an excellent tactician who was capable of dictating the pace of a game at the flick of a switch. He also proved himself to be versatile, often filling in on the right side of midfield to great success for Rangers and, on the rare occasion, for the national team.


13.) Tim Howard

Tim Howard

A wonderfully gifted goalkeeper who is set to retire at the end of the 2019 MLS season, Tim Howard will leave a lasting legacy as one of the most accomplished played in American history.

After a spell at giants Manchester United, Howard enjoyed a stellar ten-year period with ?Everton, where he earned plenty of plaudits for his heroics between the sticks at Goodison Park. However, his crowning moment came in the 2014 World Cup, as he put in arguably the greatest individual goalkeeping performance in the tournament’s history. Despite losing to Belgium in the last 16, he set a World Cup record with 15 saves in a single match.


12.) Luis Hernandez

Luis Hernandez

Luis Hernandez’ enjoyed a decent domestic career, but he was a different prospect altogether for the Mexican national team, where he was virtually unstoppable during the late 90s.

He fired Mexico to glory at the 1996 and 1998 Gold Cups – winning the Golden Boot at the latter – and scored four goals in four matches for El Tri at the 1998 World Cup, becoming the first Mexican to score more than two goals at a single tournament. He finished his international career as Mexico’s joint-third highest scorer of all time.


11.) Javier Hernandez

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Javier Hernandez became Mexico’s all-time leading scorer in 2017 and, at the 2018 World Cup, as he went on to break the 50-goal barrier with a winning strike against South Korea.

Hernandez won two Premier League titles during a successful spell with Manchester United, before moving on to continue scoring goals with effortless ease at Bayer Leverkusen, earning five Bundesliga Player of the Month awards in just two years.

After falling out of favour at West Ham, ‘Chicharito’ could be on the move again this summer.


10.) Claudio Suarez

Mexico’s all-time appearance maker, Claudio Suarez earned a staggering 178 caps during his international career – many of which he won while acting as captain.

A rugged, no-nonsense defender, Suarez was crucial to Mexico’s three consecutive Gold Cup wins between 1993 and 1998, as well as their 1999 Confederations Cup success, which remains the only time Mexico has lifted a FIFA trophy.


9.) Brad Friedel

Brad Friedel of the USA

A true model of consistency, Brad Friedel rarely made a mistake during his lengthy Premier League career and remains one of the very best goalkeepers to ever grace the top flight.

Starting off with Liverpool, the American stopper went on to represent Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tottenham, setting a Premier League record for the most consecutive appearances in the process- a staggering 310 games.

His best form came during his time at Blackburn, where he was voted into the PFA Team of the Year in 2002 and, in the same year, he also became the first keeper to save two penalties at a World Cup since 1974.


8.) Landon Donovan 

US midfielder Landon Donovan  celebrates

Landon Donovan’s list of achievements is seemingly endless. He won a record six MLS Cups, was named in the MLS Best XI a remarkable seven times and won four Gold Cups with USA.

After starting off at Bayer Leverkusen, he opted to play in MLS for the majority of his career, only venturing back to Europe for brief loan spells at Bayern Munich and Everton. 

He finished his professional career as the joint-highest scorer for USA and as the second-highest scorer in MLS history – all while playing as a winger rather than a striker.


7.) Cuauhtemoc Blanco

Mexico's striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco kicks

Cuauhtemoc Blanco was an immensely talented attacking midfielder who enjoyed a lengthy career spent mainly playing in his native Mexico, notably featuring over 300 times for Club America. 

With 39 international goals to his name, he’s Mexico’s joint-third highest scorer.

He’s also fondly remembered for his unique ‘Blanco Trick’, which he notably performed at the 1998 World Cup, where he famously trapped the ball between his feet before jumping past groups of defenders.


6.) Clint Dempsey

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The greatest American player of all time, Clint Dempsey was the perfect blend of technical acumen and pure determination, as he achieved great success in the Premier League and on the international stage.

He is Fulham’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League with 50 goals – a testament to his natural ability in front of goal – and his combined total of 72 goals for the Cottagers and Tottenham make him the highest-scoring American in a top-tier European league.  


5.) Jorge Gonzalez

You’d be forgiven for not already knowing about Jorge Gonzalez. After all, his club career was nothing to write home about and he only featured in one World Cup for El Salvador.

But those who were given the opportunity to watch ‘El Magico’ play will attest to the notion that he was one of the most gifted players of his generation. Even Diego Maradona has claimed that the diminutive forward was one of the best players he had ever seen, which demonstrates just how highly thought of he was.


4.) Dwight Yorke

Dwight Yorke and Roy Keane

Until Sergio Aguero broke his record in 2017, Dwight Yorke previously held the record for the most goals scored by a non-European in the Premier League – 123.

The Tobagonian striker was one of the deadliest in England during the 90s, scoring goals for fun with Aston Villa, before he went on to play a vital role in United’s period if unprecedented success during the turn of the millennium.

Yorke formed a legendary partnership with Andy Cole and together the pair fired the Red Devils to the three consecutive Premier League titles, as well as a yet-to-be replicated treble in 1999.


3.) Keylor Navas

Keylor Navas

A severely underappreciated figure at Real Madrid over the past few years, Keylor Navas has played a vital role in Los Blancos’ recent European dominance, playing between the sticks for their three consecutive Champions League triumphs between 2015 and 2018.

The Costa Rican keeper’s performances for Real Madrid have been largely consistent since he made the switch from Levante in 2014, using his sharp reflexes and agility to great effect. He’s by far the greatest player to come out of Costa Rica and looks set to remain in Madrid for at least another season. 


2.) Rafael Marquez

Mexican defender Rafael Marquez celebrat

The best defender in CONCACAF history, Rafael Marquez recently hung up his boots after a silverware-laden career, mostly spent with ?Barcelona.

Marquez won everything there is to win during his seven seasons with the Blaugrana, becoming the first Mexican to ever lift the Champions League trophy in 2006, and his skills were also put to good use for Mexico, who he represented at five World Cups between 1998 and 2018.


1.) Hugo Sanchez

Fussball: WM 1994 in den USA, NOR - MEX 1:0

Hugo Sanchez is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest CONCACAF player of all time.

In his prime, Sanchez was capable of scoring a truly absurd amount of goals, netting 27 or more times in four consecutive seasons for Real Madrid between 1986 and 1990, including 38 strikes in 1989/90. He won five league titles, a Copa del Rey and a UEFA Cup during his time with Real Madrid and he goes down as one of the most naturally gifted strikers to ever grace the Bernabeu.


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