North, Central American and Caribbean nations at the FIFA World Cup

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Association football is the most popular sport in nearly every North, Central American and Caribbean country, and 10 members of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, CONCACAF, have competed at the sport's biggest event – the men's FIFA World Cup.

Summary of performance[edit]

This table shows for each world cup the number of countries at the World Cup, the number of entries (#E) from around the world including any rejections and withdrawals, the number of South American entries (#A), how many of those North, Central American and Caribbean entries withdrew (#A-) before/during qualification or were rejected by FIFA, the North, Central American and Caribbean representatives at the World Cup finals, the number of World Cup Qualifiers each North, Central American and Caribbean representative had to play to get to the World Cup (#WCQ), the furthest stage they reached, their results, and their coaches.

Year Host Size #E #A #A- North, Central American and Caribbean finalists #WCQ Stage Results Coach
1930 Uruguay 13 0 0 0  Mexico 13 R1 lost 1–4  France, lost 0–3  Chile, lost 3–6  Argentina Mexico Juan Luque de Serralonga
 United States 13 3 place won 3–0  Belgium, won 3–0  Paraguay
SF: lost 1–6  Argentina
United States Robert Millar
1934 Italy 16 32 4 0  United States 16 R1 lost 1–7  Italy United States Felipe Pascucci
1938 France 16 34 5 4[1]  Cuba 16 QF drew 3–3 (a.e.t.)  Romania, replay match won 2–1  Romania
QF: lost 0–8  Sweden
Cuba José Tapia
1950 Brazil 15 34 3 0  Mexico 15 R1 lost 0–4  Brazil, lost 1–4  Yugoslavia, lost 1–2   Switzerland Mexico Octavio Vial
 United States 15 R1 lost 1–3  Spain, won 1–0  England, lost 2–5  Chile United States William Jeffrey
1954 Switzerland 16 45 3 0  Mexico 16 R1 lost 0–5  Brazil, lost 2–3  France Spain Antonio López Herranz
1958 Sweden 16 55 6 0  Mexico 16 R1 lost 0–3  Sweden, drew 1–1  Wales, lost 0–4  Hungary Spain Antonio López Herranz
1962 Chile 16 56 8 1[2]  Mexico 16 R1 lost 0–2  Brazil, lost 0–1  Spain, won 3–1  Czechoslovakia Mexico Ignacio Tréllez
1966 England 16 74 9 0  Mexico 16 R1 drew 1–1  France, lost 0–2  England, drew 0–0  Uruguay Mexico Ignacio Tréllez
1970 Mexico 16 75 12 0  Mexico 16 QF drew 0–0  Soviet Union, won 4–0  El Salvador, won 1–0  Belgium
QF: lost 1–4  Italy
Mexico Raúl Cárdenas
 El Salvador 16 R1 lost 0–3  Belgium, lost 0–4  Mexico, lost 0–2  Soviet Union Chile Hernán Carrasco Vivanco
1974 West Germany 16 99 14 1[3]  Haiti 16 R1 lost 1–3  Italy, lost 0–7  Poland, lost 1–4  Argentina Haiti Antoine Tassy
1978 Argentina 16 107 16 0  Mexico 16 R1 lost 1–3  Tunisia, lost 0–6  Germany, lost 1–3  Poland Mexico José Antonio Roca
1982 Spain 24 109 15 0  Honduras 24 R1 drew 1–1  Spain, drew 1–1  Northern Ireland, lost 0–1  Yugoslavia Honduras José de la Paz Herrera
 El Salvador 24 R1 lost 1–10  Hungary, lost 0–1  Belgium, lost 0–2  Argentina El Salvador Pipo Rodríguez
1986 Mexico 24 121 16 3[4]  Mexico 24 QF won 2–1  Belgium, drew 1–1  Paraguay, won 1–0  Iraq
Round of 16: won 2–0  Bulgaria
QF: lost 0–0 (pen. 1–4)  Germany
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bora Milutinović
 Canada 24 R1 lost 0–1  France, lost 0–2  Hungary, lost 0–2  Soviet Union Canada Tony Waiters
1990 Italy 24 116 16 2[5]  Costa Rica 24 Round of 16 won 1–0  Scotland, lost 0–1  Brazil, won 2–1  Sweden
Round of 16: lost 1–4  Czechoslovakia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bora Milutinović
 United States 24 R1 lost 1–5  Czechoslovakia, lost 0–1  Italy, lost 1–2  Austria United States Bob Gansler
1994 USA 24 147 23 1[6]  Mexico 24 Round of 16 lost 0–1  Norway, won 2–1  Republic of Ireland, drew 1–1  Italy
Round of 16: lost 1–1 (pen. 1–3)  Bulgaria
Mexico Miguel Mejía Barón
 United States 24 Round of 16 drew 1–1   Switzerland, won 2–1  Colombia, lost 0–1  Romania
Round of 16: lost 0–1  Brazil
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bora Milutinović
1998 France 32 174 30 1[7]  Mexico 32 Round of 16 won 3–1  South Korea, drew 2–2  Belgium, drew 2–2  Netherlands
Round of 16: lost 1–2  Germany
Mexico Manuel Lapuente
 Jamaica 32 R1 lost 0–1  Croatia, lost 0–5  Argentina, won 2–1  Japan Brazil Renê Simões
 United States 32 R1 lost 0–2  Germany, lost 1–2  Iran, lost 0–1  Yugoslavia United States Steve Sampson
2002 South Korea
& Japan
32 199 35 1[8]  Costa Rica 32 R1 won 2–0  China PR, drew 1–1  Turkey, lost 2–5  Brazil Costa Rica Alexandre Guimarães
 Mexico 32 Round of 16 won 1–0  Croatia, won 2–1  Ecuador, drew 1–1  Italy
Round of 16: lost 0–2  United States
Mexico Javier Aguirre
 United States 32 QF won 3–2  Portugal, drew 1–1  South Korea, lost 1–3  Poland
Round of 16: won 2–0  Mexico
QF: lost 0–1  Germany
United States Bruce Arena
2006 Germany 32 197 35 1[9]  Costa Rica 32 R1 lost 2–4  Germany, lost 0–3  Ecuador, lost 1–2  Poland Brazil Alexandre Guimarães
 Trinidad and Tobago 32 R1 drew 1–1  Sweden, lost 0–2  England, lost 0–2  Paraguay Netherlands Leo Beenhakker
 Mexico 32 Round of 16 won 3–1  Iran, drew 0–0  Angola, lost 1–2  Portugal
Round of 16: lost 1–2 (a.e.t.)  Argentina
Argentina Ricardo Lavolpe
 United States 32 R1 lost 0–3  Czech Republic, drew 1–1  Italy, lost 1–2  Ghana United States Bruce Arena
2010 South Africa 32 205 35 0  Honduras 32 R1 lost 0–1  Chile, lost 0–2  Spain, drew 0–0   Switzerland Colombia Reinaldo Rueda
 Mexico 32 Round of 16 drew 1–1  South Africa, won 2–0  France, lost 0–1  Uruguay
Round of 16: lost 1–3  Argentina
Mexico Javier Aguirre
 United States 32 Round of 16 drew 1–1  England, drew 2–2  Slovenia, won 1–0  Algeria
Round of 16: lost 1–2 (a.e.t.)  Ghana
United States Bob Bradley
2014 Brazil 32 203 35 1[10]  Costa Rica 32 QF won 3–1  Uruguay, won 1–0  Italy, drew 0–0  England, won 1–1 (pen. 5–3)  Greece, lost 0–0 (pen. 3–4)  Netherlands Colombia Jorge Luis Pinto
 Honduras 32 R1 lost 0–3  France, lost 1–2  Ecuador, lost 0–3   Switzerland Colombia Luis Fernando Suárez
 United States 32 Round of 16 won 2–0  Ghana, drew 2–2  Portugal, lost 0–1  Germany, lost 1–2 (a.e.t.)  Belgium Germany Jürgen Klinsmann
 Mexico 32 Round of 16 won 1–0  Cameroon, drew 0–0  Brazil, won 3–1  Croatia, lost 1–2  Netherlands Mexico Miguel Herrera


West Germany
United States
South Korea
South Africa
Teams 2 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 3 4 39
Top 16 1 1 2 1 2 1 2 3 13
Top 12 0 0
Top 8 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 5
Top 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Top 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1st 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2nd 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3rd 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
4th 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Country Participations Years Best result
1930,1950,1954,1958,1962,1966,1970,1978,1986,1994,1998,2002,2006,2010,2014 QF
 United States
1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 3rd
 Costa Rica
1990, 2002, 2006, 2014 QF
1982, 2010, 2014 R1
 El Salvador
1970, 1982 R1
1938 QF
1974 R1
1986 R1
1998 R1
 Trinidad and Tobago
2006 R1

Competitive record[edit]

1930s: The best USA performance at the FIFA World Cup[edit]

Two teams from North America entered the tournament. Mexico was seeded in Group 1, and took part of the first World Cup match ever, losing 4-1 to France. Defeats to Chile and Argentina followed, with Mexico finishing last overall.

The United States dominated Group 4, winning both games 3-0. The first, against Belgium, had American goalkeeper Jimmy Douglas to be the first with an official "clean sheet" in the tournament. The ease of the victory was unexpected; Uruguayan newspaper Imparcial wrote that "the large score of the American victory has really surprised the experts".[11] The second match, played in windy conditions,[12] witnessed the first tournament hat-trick, scored by Bert Patenaude against Paraguay.

Qualified for the semifinals, the USA plwyed Argentina. A Monti goal halfway through the first half gave Argentina a 1–0 half-time lead. In the second half the strength of the United States team was overwhelmed by the pace of the Argentinian attacks, and lost 6-1.

The now-traditional third place playoff was not established until 1934. A FIFA technical committee report on the 1986 World Cup included full retrospective rankings of all teams at all previous World Cup finals; this report ranked the United States third.

1934: The only one World Cup match[edit]

32 countries applied to enter the tournament, so qualifying matches were required to thin the field to 16. Haiti hosted Cuba for three that would send the winner to face Mexico, and Cuba advanced with two wins and one draw. Mexico defeated Cuba thrice at home to contest the sole CONCACAF spot against the United States. The qualifying match happened only three days before the start of the tournament in Rome, which the United States won.[13]

The United States lost their only match to hosts and eventual champions Italy in a 7–1 blowout; the New York Times correspondent wrote that "only the fine goal-tending of Julius Hjulian of Chicago kept the score as low as it was".[14]

1938: Cuba reaches the Quarter-final[edit]

It was originally intended that the World Cup would be held alternately between the continents of South America and Europe. However Jules Rimet, the creator of the World Cup, convinced FIFA to hold the competition in France, his home country. Because of this controversy, many American countries, including Argentina (the most likely hosts if the event was held in South America), Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Dutch Guyana, Uruguay, and the United States all withdrew or refused to enter so Cuba qualified automatically.

Five of the first round matches required extra time to break the deadlock; two games still went to a replay. In one replay, Cuba advanced to the next round at the expense of Romania 2–1. Sweden advanced directly to the quarter-finals as a result of Austria's withdrawal, and they proceeded to beat Cuba 8–0.

1950: The Miracle Match[edit]

In the 1950 World Cup qualification, only three countries of CONCACAF took part in the qualifier for two spots. Mexico and the United States qualified over Cuba. Mexico took part in the opening match, losing 4-0 to hosts Brazil, and also lost to Yugoslavia (4–1) and Switzerland (2–1). The United States, with a hastily assembed team of semiprofessional players, lost to Spain 3-1 before defeating England 1–0 in a group match that is largely considered the greatest upset in World Cup history. Another loss by 2–5 to Chile ended the U.S. Team campaign.

1954: Mexico has a short World Cup[edit]

In the 1954 World Cup qualification, Mexico, United States and Haiti disputed one qualifying spot. Mexico won. The 1954 tournament used a unique format, where after dividing the sixteen teams in four groups, the seeded teams did not play each other, as did the non-seeds. Thus Mexico did not have to play fellow non-seeded team Yugoslavia, and lost to seeds Brazil and France. Mexico finished thirteenth overall.

1958: Mexico does not host, but plays the World Cup[edit]

Mexico expressed interest in hosting the tournament, but Sweden was eventually chosen at the FIFA Congress held in Rio de Janeiro around the opening of the 1950 FIFA World Cup.[15] In the 1958 World Cup qualification, six CONCACAF teams played for one spot, again won by Mexico. For the third time Mexico took part in the opening match, losing 4-0 to hosts Sweden. Afterwards they drew 1–1 Wales to win their first point in World Cup history, and lost 4-0 to Hungary in Sandviken, in what became the northern-most World Cup match in history. Mexico finished last overall among all sixteen teams.

1962: Mexico's first victory at the World Cup[edit]

In the 1962 World Cup qualification, seven countries played for the sole CONCACAF spot, again won by Mexico, who then advanced to the CONMEBOL/CCCF/NAFC Intercontinental Play-off. Mexico beat Paraguay 1–0 in Mexico City and qualified for their fourth consecutive World Cup. In their group, Mexico lost to defending (and eventual) champions Brazil 0-2, as well as 0–1 to Spain. However, Mexico managed to get their first ever win at the World Cup by beating Czechoslovakia (who wound up being the tournament runners-up) 3-1. In the overall rankings, Mexico was eleventh.

1966: Mexico drew twice but eliminated[edit]

In the 1966 World Cup qualification, nine countries of CONCACAF disputed one qualifying spot. Mexico won the qualification and got to their fifth consecutive World Cup. In the group stage, Mexico drew 1–1 France, lost 0–2 to host England, and drew 0–0 with Uruguay. Mexico finished as twelfth overall. The tournament also allowed goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal to become the first player to take part in five consecutive World Cups, a feat only matched by Germany's Lothar Matthäus in 1998. Carbajal also became the goalkeeper with the most goals conceded with 25, tied by Saudi Arabian Mohammed Al-Deayea in 2002 (though Carbajal played 14 matches in 5 tournaments, while al-Deayea was in 10 games across 3 Cups).

1970: North America hosts the World Cup, El Salvador's first World Cup[edit]

The 1970 FIFA World Cup, the ninth staging of the World Cup, was held in Mexico, from 31 May to 21 June. The 1970 tournament was the first World Cup hosted in North America, and the first held outside South America and Europe. Mexico was chosen as the host nation by FIFA in Tokyo, Japan on 8 October 1964, over opposition from Argentina. Along with Mexico, another CONCACAF spot was reserved to the winner of the qualifiers. El Salvador beat 11 other countries to make their debut. Both CONCACAF teams wound up drawn in the same group.

In Group 1, hosts Mexico lived up to the expectations of an entire nation by advancing along with the Soviet Union. This was the first time in seven World Cup tournaments that Mexico had progressed from the initial stage. Mexico drew 0–0 USSR in the tournament's opening match, won 4–0 El Salvador, won 1–0 Belgium. El Salvador lost all 3 games, finishing last overall with 9 goals against and none scored.

The quarter-finals saw a transformed Italy prevail 4–1 over Mexico after trailing 0–1. The host took the lead against Italy with a José González goal, but his team-mate Gustavo Pena equalised with an own goal before half-time. Italy then took over, and dominated the second half. Two goals from Luigi Riva and one from Gianni Rivera saw them go through 4–1. Mexico finished sixth overall.

1974: Haiti's first World Cup[edit]

The North, Central American and Caribbean zone was allocated 1 place (out of 16) in the World Cup. The qualifiers would be concurrent to the 1973 CONCACAF Championship. Host country Haiti won the tournament and the berth to West Germany '74. Haiti did not do particularly well in their first World Cup finals, losing all three games, but they did have one moment of glory. In their opening game against Italy, they managed to take the lead with a goal from Emmanuel Sanon, before eventually losing 3–1. Italy had not conceded a goal in 12 international matches, and it ended Dino Zoff's run of 1142 minutes without conceding a goal. Haiti finished second-to-last at 15th place overall.

1978: Mexico's early exit[edit]

The North, Central American and Caribbean zone was allocated 1 place (out of 16) in the World Cup. In the 1978 World Cup qualification participated 16 countries of CONCACAF. Mexico won, qualifying in Argentina '78. Mexico suffered an early exit after three defeats: 1–3 against Tunisia (the first victory by an African team), 0–6 against West Germany, and 1–3 to Poland. Again Mexico was 16th and last overall.

1982: Honduras' first World Cup[edit]

For the first time, the World Cup finals expanded from 16 to 24 teams. The North, Central American and Caribbean zone was allocated two places (out of 24) in the final tournament. A total of 15 CONCACAF teams entered the qualification. This edition was marked by an upset as Mexico, traditional CONCACAF heavyweights and needing a win to go through, were eliminated by Honduras. The 0–0 tie between Mexico and Honduras qualified El Salvador to participate in the World Cup as the CONCACAF runner-ups. El Salvador also became the first Central American team to qualify for more than one World Cup (a record that has been broken by Costa Rica).

El Salvador in their first match on June 15 in Elche, they were defeated 10–1 by Hungary, a scoreline that stands as a World Cup record to this day.[16] One comfort was that Luis Baltazar Ramírez Zapata scored the country's first World Cup goal during the game, albeit at a point when the Salvadorans were already down 5–0.[17] El Salvador managed to regain some pride in their subsequent games: displaying much-improved levels of organisation and commitment, they lost 1–0 to Belgium on June 19 in Elche and 2–0 to the then-reigning world champions, Argentin, in Alicante on June 23.[18][19] At the ranking remained the last 24 place.

Honduras drew against Spain and Northern Ireland 1–1, and while trying to qualify with a third draw against Yugoslavia, a penalty in the final minutes lead to a 0–1 defeat. Honduras finished 18th overall.

1986: The second World Cup in Mexico, Mexican wave, Canada's debut[edit]

The 13th FIFA World Cup was originally to be held in Colombia, However, the Colombian authorities eventually declared in November 1982 that they could not afford to host the World Cup under the terms that FIFA demanded because of economic concerns. Mexico was selected on 20 May 1983 as the replacement hosts, beating the bids of Canada and the United States (who eventually hosted the 1994 World Cup), and became the first nation to host two World Cups. The 1986 World Cup saw the appearance of the phenomenon dubbed the Mexican wave, which was popularised world-wide after featuring during the tournament.[20][21] The North, Central American and Caribbean zone was allocated 2 places (out of 24) in the final tournament. Mexico, the World Cup host, qualified automatically. A total of 16 CONCACAF teams entered the qualification. Canada earned clinched qualification on 14 September 1985 to participate in their first ever World Cup after beating Honduras 2–1.

In Group B Mexico beat Belgium 2–1, and despite being held 1–1 by Paraguay, they won the group after a further win over Iraq, 1–0. With this performance, Mexico won the top spot in its group and advanced to the next round where Mexico faced Bulgaria in a 2–0 win. In the quarter-finals stage, Mexico held West Germany to 0–0 on regular time and overtime, before losing 1–4 in the penalty shootout with goal-keeper Harald Schumacher saving two penalties. Mexico repeated the 6th place from 1970.

At the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Canada impressed defensively in their first game, allowing few chances and conceding a late Jean-Pierre Papin goal to lose to France 0–1. They lost their next two matches to both Hungary and the USSR 0–2, however, to finish at the bottom of their group and last overall at 24th.

1990: United States returns to the World Cup, Costa Rica reaches the Round of 16[edit]

A total of 16 CONCACAF teams entered the qualification. Mexico was disqualified from the 1990 FIFA World Cup (and any other international competition) after using players over the age limit allowed by FIFA in the qualifying round for the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship. The punishment originally was only going to be applied to the FIFA World Youth team and not the World Cup or Olympic Games team, but the penalty was applied to all Mexico national representatives of all FIFA sanctioned tournaments. Costa Rica along with the United States, qualified for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Costa Rica qualified the first time. Returning after long absences were the United States, who competed for the first time since 1950. For the 1990 World Cup in Italy, two of the team's more experienced players, Rick Davis and Hugo Perez, were recovering from serious injuries and unavailable for selection, and manager Bob Gansler selected many inexperienced players and recent college graduates. The U.S. lost all three games to Czechoslovakia, Italy and Austria. At the ranking remained the 23 place. Costa Rica beat Scotland 1–0 in their first match, lost 1–0 to Brazil in their second, then saw off Sweden 2–1 to claim a place in the second round. Costa Rica were comfortably beaten 4–1 by Czechoslovakia. At the ranking remained the 12 place.

1994: United States hosts the World Cup[edit]

The 1994 FIFA World Cup was held in nine cities across the United States. The United States was chosen as the host by FIFA on 4 July 1988. Average attendance was 69,000, a record which still stands today (no other FIFA World Cup has exceeded 53,000 average attendance). The total attendance of nearly 3.6 million for the final tournament remains the highest in World Cup history, despite the expansion of the competition from 24 to 32 teams (and from 52 to 64 matches) in the 1998 World Cup. A total of 23 CONCACAF teams entered the qualification. The North, Central American and Caribbean zone was allocated 2.25 places (out of 24) in the final tournament. In the final Round Mexico qualified as the first team, Canada advanced to the CONCACAF–OFC play-off. The aggregate score was tied at 3–3, however Australiaadvanced 4–1 on penalties. U.S. opened its tournament schedule with a 1–1 draw against Switzerland in the Pontiac Silverdome in the suburbs of Detroit, the first World Cup game played indoors. In its second game, the U.S. faced Colombia, then ranked fourth in the world, at the Rose Bowl. Aided by an own goal from Andrés Escobar, the United States won 2–1.[22] (Escobar was later murdered in his home country, possibly in retaliation for this mistake.[23] ) Despite a 1–0 loss to Romania in its final group game, the U.S. made it to the knockout round for the first time since 1930. The hosts advanced to the second round as one of the best third-place teams. They played and, despite a 1–0 defeat,to the eventual champion Brazil. United States' performance was considered a great success .[24] At the ranking remained the 14 place. Mexico went on to win group on tiebreakers, emerging to the eventual champion Brazilfrom the tournament's "Group of death", composed of Mexico, Italy, Ireland, and Norway. However, Mexico eventually lost 1–1 (pen. 1–3) in the second round to Bulgaria. Miguel Mejía Barón led this team into one of its most distinguished performances in a World Cup. At the ranking remained the 13 place.

1998: Jamaica's first World Cup[edit]

For the first time in the competition, the group-stages were expanded from 24 teams to 32. CONCACAF zone determine the three CONCACAF representatives at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. A total of 30 CONCACAF teams entered the competition. Mexico, the United States, and Jamaica qualified for the World Cup. Jamaica qualified first time for the World Cup. Jamaica ended in Group H, along with Argentina, Croatia, and Japan. Their first game was a 3–1 defeat to Croatia in Lens, with Robbie Earle scoring Jamaica's goal. It was followed by a 5–0 defeat to Argentina at Paris' Parc des Princes. Jamaica ended its participation with a 2–1 victory over Japan in Lyon, with Theodore Whitmore scoring both goals. The team finished 22nd out of the 32 teams. In the 1998 World Cup in France, USA team lost all three group matches, 2–0 to Germany, 2–1 to Iran, and 1–0 to Yugoslavia, and so finished in last place in its group and 32nd in the field of 32. Head coach Steve Sampson received much of the blame for the performance as a result of abruptly cutting team captain John Harkes, whom Sampson had ironically named "Captain for Life" shortly before, as well as several other players who were instrumental to the qualifying effort, from the squad.[25] It emerged in February 2010 that Sampson removed Harkes from the team due to Harkes allegedly having an affair with teammate Eric Wynalda's wife.[26] Mexico was placed in Group E, with the Netherlands, Korea Republic and Belgium. Mexico started against Korea Republic losing 0–1 but came back to win 3–1. Belgium had started beating Mexico 2–0 but they came back to tie 2–2. The third game against Netherlands ended in another 2–2 result which resulted in qualification to the Round of 16. In the next round, Mexico faced Germany. Although having the lead Mexico did not manage to hold onto it and lost the game 2–1. At the ranking remained the 13 place.

2002: The North American derby[edit]

A total of 35 CONCACAF teams entered the qualification. Mexico, the United States, and Costa Rica qualified for the World Cup. During the World Cup the results were mixed, losing to Brazil (tournament champion) 5–2 (only team to score 2 goals against Brazil at this World Cup), tying with Turkey (third in the championship) 1–1 and soundly beating the selection of China 2–0. This tournament it was in 3rd place in the group behind Turkey on goal difference. The team finished 19 out of the 32 teams. Mexico reached the finals and was placed in Group G alongside Italy, Croatia, and Ecuador. Mexico opened its participation with a 1–0 win over Croatia. In the second match, Mexico earned a 2–1 win over Ecuador with goals from Jared Borgetti and Gerardo Torrado. Mexico then achieved a 1–1 draw against Italy thanks to a goal from Borgetti that was regarded as one of the best of the tournament. The team reached the knockout stage after a 1–1–1 record in the group stage. It started with a surprising 3–2 win over Portugal, followed by a 1–1 tie with co-host and eventual fourth place finisher, South Korea. It then lost its third and final match 1–3 to Poland but still qualified for the second round when Park Ji-Sung of South Korea stunned Portugal with the eventual game-winning goal. This set the stage for a Second round face-off with familiar continental rivals Mexico. Although the teams had played many times in both friendlies and in qualifying, they had never met in the World Cup. The U.S. would win the game 2–0. Brian McBride opened the scoring early in the match and Landon Donovan scored a second goal from a header off an Eddie Lewis cross. Mexico finished 11 out of the 32 teams. United States advanced to the quarterfinals, where they met Germany. The team lost 1–0; after being denied a penalty when Torsten Frings handled the ball to prevent a Gregg Berhalter goal. At the ranking remained the 8 place.

2006: Mexico moves on again, Trinidad and Tobago debut at the World Cup[edit]

A total of 34 teams took part competing for 3.5 places in the World Cup. Mexico, the United States, and Costa Rica qualified at once for the World Cup. Trinidad and Tobago advanced to the AFC-CONCACAF play-off. Trinidad and Tobago was awarded a place in 2006 FIFA World Cup after winning the playoff 2–1 on aggregate against Bahrain. Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the finals for the first time. Costa Rica made its debut in the opening match in Munich against the host Germany, losing the match 4–2. However, the good performance in that game did not translate over to the other games, where they fell 0–3 against Ecuador, and 1–2 against Poland. At the ranking remained the 31 place. Mexico was one of eight seeded teams in the first round at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Mexico was put in Group D with Iran, Angola and Portugal. Mexico won their opening match 3–1 against Iran, with two goals from Omar Bravo and one by Sinha. In their second match, Mexico played to a 0–0 draw against Angola. Mexico joined Portugal as a qualifier in the Round of 16, despite losing to the Portuguese 2–1. During the match, Bravo missed a penalty. In the second round, Mexico played against Argentina. Mexico scored in the 5th minute with a goal by captain Rafael Márquez assisted by Pável Pardo. Four minutes later, Argentina equalized the match thanks to an own goal from Jared Borgetti. The score remained 1–1 after ninety minutes, and in extra time, a volley by Maxi Rodríguez in the second period of extra time brought about a 2–1 win for Argentina. At the ranking remained the 15 place. U.S. was drawn into Group E along with the Czech Republic, Italy, and Ghana. The United States opened its tournament with a 3–0 loss to the Czech Republic. The team then drew 1–1 against Italy, thanks to an own goal from Zaccardo, ending up being the only opponent together along with France the Italian side failed to defeat in the tournament (officially, according to FIFA, France and Italy drew 1–1, although Italy won the tournament after a penalty shoot out).[27] The United States was then knocked out of the tournament when beaten 2–1 by Ghana in its final group match, with Clint Dempsey scoring their only goal in the tournament.[28] The team finished 25 out of the 32 teams.

2010: Mexico and the United States qualify, Honduras returned to the World Cup[edit]

A total of 35 teams took part competing for 3.5 places in the World Cup. Mexico, the United States, and Honduras qualified at once for the World Cup. The fourth place finisher, Costa Rica, played a two-game playoff with the CONMEBOL fifth place finisher,[29] Uruguay, for a possible fourth berth. Costa Rica lost 1–2 on aggregate and not qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. United States after tying (drawing) matches against England (1–1) and Slovenia (2–2), the US defeated Algeria through a Landon Donovan stoppage time goal and thus won the game, the first time that the USA has won its group since 1930. In the round of 16, the US lost to Ghana, with Ghana once again winning 2–1, thus resulting in the elimination of the USA from the World Cup.[30] USA finished in 12th place. Mexico was drawn into Group A along with the host South Africa, France and Uruguay. In the first match of the tournament they drew 1–1 against the host South Africa with a late strike from Rafael Márquez. The second match was against France, whom they defeated 2–0 thanks to a strike from Javier Hernández and a penalty by Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who with this goal became the first Mexico player ever to score in three different World Cups. Their last group game was against Uruguay with both teams needing just a draw to advance however Mexico were defeated 1–0 but still advance to the Round of 16 thanks to a better goal differential than South Africa. In the second round, Mexico faced Argentina in a rematch of their Round of 16 loss at the hands of the Argentine team four years earlier. Mexico fell behind when a controversial goal was scored by Carlos Tevez in offside position, in which the Argentine team were clearly positioned offside, noticed by a linesman who urged the referee to discount the goal but it was declared a fair play. Gonzalo Higuaín scored later when Ricardo Osorio accidentally pushed the ball in front of Higuain while passing it to a teammate then tripping, giving Higuain a chance to go and score a second for Argentina. Tévez later on scored on a shot where he was not marked by anyone, giving Argentina a 3-goal lead before Javier Hernández scored what was considered the best goal of the match, in which he took on 3 defenders before scoring between the post and the goalkeeper on the left edge of the box for what would be Mexico's only goal for the match. For the fifth straight World Cup, Mexico was eliminated in the Round of 16 as a result of their 1–3 defeat. The team finished 14 out of the 32 teams. Honduras faced Chile, Spain, and Switzerland, respectively.[31] In their first match they lost to Chile 0–1 by a goal from Jean Beausejour. They faced Spain in the second match and lost 0–2 by 2 goals from David Villa. In their last match against Switzerland they got a draw and finished the World Cup with 1 point. The team finished 30 out of the 32 teams.

2014: Costa Rica surprises, three CONCACAF teams in the knockout round[edit]

In the CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras qualified directly, while an underwhelming campaign by Mexico sent them to a playoff with an Asian team. Mexico beat Jordan easily to mark the second tournament with four teams from North and Central America.

For the first time three CONCACAF teams qualified for the knockout rounds. The exception was Honduras, who lost all three games.

Mexico managed to get their sixth consecutive qualification to the knockout rounds under the solid goalkeeping of Guillermo Ochoa, who conceded only one goal in the group stage. In the Round of 16 against the Netherlands, Mexico opened the score with Giovani dos Santos, but conceded two goals in the final minutes for another early exit. Rafael Márquez became both the most capped Mexico player with 16 World Cup matches, and also became the first player to serve as team captain in four different tournaments.

Underdogs Costa Rica had their best tournament performance ever lead by goalkeeper Keylor Navas. While experts did not expect the Central American team to survive a "group of death" featuring three former World Cup winners, Costa Rica beat both Uruguay and Italy before drawing England, finishing first on its group. Facing Greece in the round of 16, Bryan Ruiz opened the score, but Sokratis Papastathopoulos tied on injury time. Despite having one less player Los Ticos held the tie on overtime, and Navas saved two of the Greek penalty kicks to send Costa Rica to the quarterfinals. Facing the Netherlands, Navas kept the score 0-0 until the penalties. Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul saved two kicks to eliminate Costa Rica, who still ended undefeated and with the less goals taken.

Facing Ghana for the third consecutive World Cup, the United States finally defeated the African team, with the first goal of the 2-1 victory being scored by Clint Dempsey with less than thirty seconds of playtime. The U.S. team then conceded a 2-2 draw to Portugal on injury time, and qualified despite a 1-0 defeat to Germany. Facing Belgium in the Round of 16, goalkeeper Tim Howard made a record of 16 saves to send the game into overtime, where the Belgians won 2-1.


  1. ^ It was originally intended that the World Cup would be held alternately between the continents of South America and Europe. However Jules Rimet, the creator of the World Cup, convinced FIFA to hold the competition in France, his home country. Because of this controversy, many American countries, including Argentina (the most likely hosts if the event was held in South America), Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Dutch Guiana, Uruguay, and the United States all withdrew or refused to enter.
  2. ^ Canada withdrew before the qualification matches began.
  3. ^ Jamaica withdrew.
  4. ^ Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada withdrew.
  5. ^ FIFA rejected the entry of Belize due to debts to FIFA.Mexico was disqualified for fielding over-aged players in a youth tournament.
  6. ^ Cuba withdrew.
  7. ^ Bermuda withdrew.
  8. ^ Guyana were suspended by FIFA.
  9. ^ Puerto Rico declined to participate.
  10. ^ Bahamas withdrew from the tournament on 19 August 2011 and were not replaced
  11. ^ Almeida, Rony J. (2006). Where It All Began. Lulu. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4116-7906-1. 
  12. ^ Freddi, p. 9
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  14. ^ Wangerin, Soccer in a Football World, p. 98
  15. ^ Norlin, pp.24–25
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  18. ^ "FIFA Match Report for Belgium-El Salvador on June 19, 1982". FIFA. 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  19. ^ "FIFA Match Report for Argentina-El Salvador on June 23, 1982". FIFA. 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  20. ^ Andy Jackson (Jun 11 2010) ...Fan Crazes Australian Four Four Two. Retrieved 25 August 2011
  21. ^ The 100 greatest World Cup moments: 94. THE MEXICAN WAVE The Independent. Retrieved 25 August 2011
  22. ^ Lewis, Michael. "Escobar's memory lives on". CNN Sports Illustrated. July 1, 2000. Retrieved on July 4, 2009. Archived 17 January 2010 at WebCite
  23. ^ " World Cup Hall of Fame – Andrés Escobar". CNN. Retrieved August 25, 2009. 
  24. ^ Palmer, Kevin (June 9, 2006). "ESPNsoccernet – World Cup – 'Winning is the only option'". ESPN. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Sampson destroyed US unity with late changes to lineup". Retrieved June 8, 2006. 
  26. ^ Blum, Ronald (February 3, 2010). "John Harkes Affair? Soccer Captain Allegedly Slept With Teammate's Wife". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Match Report: Italy – USA". FIFA. June 17, 2006. Archived from the original on January 17, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2006. 
  28. ^ "Ghana 2–1 USA". BBC Sport (BBC). June 22, 2006. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "U.S. Falls to Ghana (in Soccer)". 
  31. ^ "England enjoy kind World Cup draw". BBC News. December 4, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 

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