A year ago, the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, mostly known as IFFHS, announced the best Continental XIs of all time which included the CONCACAF Dream Team (1901-2021). The Central and North American selection in a 3-4-3 formation was an updated version of the 20th Century XI, with the outfield players amended by a staggering 50%. However, the XI was dominated once again by Mexican internationals. Before we present the Dream Teams of the two centuries, let’s take a look on how the 2000 voting went on and who won the Best player and goalkeeper awards.

CONCACAF Player of the Century (2000) – Votes
1.Hugo Sánchez                 (Mexico, retired)            107 (Winner)
2.Luis de la Fuente**         (Mexico, deceased)          45
3.Carlos Hermosillo             (Mexico, Atlante)            42
4.Horacio Casarin                (Mexico, retired)            40
5.Raúl Cárdenas                 (Mexico, retired)             39
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
6.Billy Gonsalves              (USA, deceased)               33
7.Salvador Reyes             (Mexico, retired)                30
8.Julio Dely Valdéz            (Panama, Malaga)              29
– Bruce Wilson                 (Canada, retired)               29
10.Jorge “Magico” González   (El Salvador, retired)    24
11.José Mauricio Cienfuegos (El Salvador, LA Galaxy)  21
– Eryc Wynalda                (USA, NE Revolution)         21
13.Walter Alfred Bahr        (USA, retired)                  17
14.Jesús del Muro          (Mexico, retired)                  15
15.Raúl Díaz Arce        (El Salvador, DC United)          14
– Alejandro Morera**     (Costa Rica, deceased)         14
17.Mario López**         (Cuba, deceased)                  13
18.Gustavo Peña           (Mexico, retired)                  11
19.Marcelo Balboa       (USA, Colorado Rapids)          10
– Robert Lenarduzzi        (Canada, retired)                10
– Oscar “Conejo” Sánchez     (Guatemala, retired)      10
22.Benjamin Galindo         (Mexico, Guadalajara)         9
– Ronald Gómez             (Costa Rica, OFI Crete)         9
– Juan Carlos Plata      (Guatemala, Municipal)          9
– Gilberto Yearwood        (Honduras, retired)              9
– Dwight Yorke (Trinidad & Tobago, Manchester Utd)  9
27.Juan Carreño Lara**      (Mexico, deceased)          8
– Roger Gómez          (Costa Rica, Municipal Osa)       8
– José Rafael Meza**      (Costa Rica, deceased)        8
– Nicolás Suazo          (Honduras, Victoria Ceiba)       8
31.Jorge Roldán            (Guatemala, retired)               7
– Luis Ernesto Tapia          (Panama, retired)              7

CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Century (2000) – Votes                                  

1.Antonio Carbajal           (Mexico, retired)              52 (Winner)
2.Luis Gabelo Conejo        (Costa Rica, retired)       25
3.Kasey Keller                (USA, Rayo Vallecano)      24
4.Jorge Campos             (Mexico, Atlante)             22
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
5.Henri Francillon             (Haiti, retired)                17
6.Raúl Estrada              (Mexico, retired)                 9
7.James Kennaway**     (Canada, deceased)      7
8.Craig Forrest             (Canada, West Ham)          6
9.Ignacio Calderón         (Mexico, retired)               5
10.Manuel “Tamalón” Garay  (El Salvador, retired)    4

*Nationality and current club or status at the time (2000) in brackets.
**Billy Gonsalves (USA), Alejandro Morera (Costa Rica), Mario López (Cuba), Luis de la Fuente (Mexico), Juan Carreño Lara (Mexico), James Kennaway (Canada) were deceased at the time, while Costarican striker Ronald Gómez was the youngest player of the list (aged 25).

IFFHS founded in 1984, Leipzing, East Germany, released the ”Century Election” lists in 2000
The 2000 IFFHS list: brief analysis

There were 42 players voted on the polls which determined the best outfield player and best goalkeeper, separately. Prolific goalscorer Hugo Sánchez was the absolute favourite and ultimate winner of the election by a large margin to runner-up Mexican midfielder Luis de la Fuente who had already passed away in 1972. Antonio Carbajal won the CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the XX Century award after appearing in a record 5 World Cups from 1950 to 1966 and playing in 11 matches with the Mexico jersey. US goalie Kasey Keller, a Rayo Vallecano player in 2000, came third on the list and finished his career in 2011 as a four-time World Cup participant (1990, 1998, 2002, 2006).

The highest-placed US player (6th) was Billy Gonsalves, the ”Babe Ruth of the American Soccer”, a member of the 1930 World Cup American squad that won the bronze medal at the expense of powerful Yugoslavia. 11th came Eryc Wynalda, the scorer of the first goal in the MLS history on April 6, 1996 (San Jose Clash – DC United 1-0) and a New England Revolution member in 2000. Wynalda ended his career his 106 international caps and 34 goals helping the Team USA win the inaugural 1991 Gold Cup against Honduras. Below are lists of the CONCACAF countries and MLS clubs with their 2000 IFFHS elected players:

-Countries (2000)
Mexico (14): Hugo Sánchez (1st), Luis de la Fuente (2nd), Carlos Hermosillo (3d), Horacio Casarin (4th), Raúl Cárdenas (5th), Salvador Reyes (7th), Jesús del Muro (14th), Gustavo Peña (18th), Benjamin Galindo (joint 22nd), Juan Carreño Lara (joint 27th), Antonio Carbajal (keeper – 1st), Jorge Campos (GK – fourth), Raúl Estrada (GK – 6th), Ignacio Calderón (GK – 9th)

Costa Rica (5): Alejandro Morera (joint 15th), Ronald Gómez (joint 22nd), Roger Gómez (joint 27th), José Rafael Meza (joint 27th), Luis Gabelo Conejo (GK – 2nd)

USA (5): Billy Gonsalves (6th), Eryc Wynalda (joint 11th), Walter Alfred Bahr (13th), Marcelo Balboa (joint 19th), Kasey Keller (GK – 3d)

Canada (4): Bruce Wilson (joint 8th), Robert Lenarduzzi (joint 19th), James Kennaway (GK – 7th), Craig Forrest (GK – 8th)

El Salvador (4): Jorge Alberto “Magico” González (10th), José Mauricio Cienfuegos (joint 11th), Raúl Díaz Arce (joint 15th), Manuel “Tamalón” Garay (GK – 10th)

Guatemala (3): Oscar “Conejo” Sánchez (joint 19th), Juan Carlos Plata (joint 22nd), Jorge Roldán (joint 31st)

Honduras (2): Gilberto Yearwood (joint 22nd), Nicolás Suazo (joint 27th)

Panama (2): Julio César Dely Valdéz (joint 8th), Luis Ernesto Tapia (joint 32nd)

Cuba (1): Mario López (17th)

Haiti (1): Henri Francillon (GK – 5th)

Trinidad & Tobago (1): Dwight Yorke (joint 22nd)

-MLS Clubs (2000)
LA Galaxy: José Mauricio Cienfuegos (El Salvador)
New England Revolution: Eryc Wynalda (USA)
DC United: Raúl Díaz Arce (El Salvador)
Colorado Rapids: Marcelo Balboa (USA)

Billy Gonsalves, the ”Babe Ruth of American soccer” represented the USA in the 1930 World Cup.
The CONCACAF Dream Team (1901-2021)

On June 5, 2021, the IFFHS announced the all-time selection of CONCACAF soccer players in a 3-4-3 formation. The XI which included Clint Dempsey was the following:

CONCACAF Dream Team 3-4-3 (1901-2021): Antonio Carbajal (MEX); Carlos Salcedo ((MEX), Claudio Suárez (MEX), Rafael Márquez (MEX); Andrés Guardado (MEX), Bryan Ruiz (MEX), Raúl Cárdenas (MEX), Luis de la Fuente (MEX); Julio Dely Valdés (PAN), Hugo Sánchez (MEX), Clint Dempsey (USA).

The XI was changed by 50% on its outfield players compared to the one of the 20th Century:

CONCACAF Team of 20th Century 4-3-3 (1901-2000): Antonio Carbajal (MEX), Marcelo Balboa (USA), Claudio Suárez (MEX), Ramón Ramírez (MEX); Thomas Dooley (USA), Raúl Cárdenas (MEX), Luis de la Fuente (MEX); Julio Dely Valdés (PAN), Hugo Sánchez (MEX), Carlos Hermosillo (MEX).

The players remained intact in the selection were: Antonio Carbajal, Claudio Suárez, Raúl Cárdenas, Luis de la Fuente, Hugo Sánchez and Panamanian striker Julio Dely Valdés. Changes: Marcelo Balboa was replaced by Carlos Salcedo, Carlos Hermosillo by Clint Dempsey, Mexican defender Ramón Ramírez by his fellow countryman Rafael Márquez, US defensive midfielder Thomas Dooley by Andrés Guardado and Ramón Ramírez by Costarican Bryan Ruiz.

Marcelo Balboa was included in the 20th Century best CONCACAF team by IFFHS.

Remarkable omissions
The names of Hugo Sánchez, Antonio Carbajal, Rafael Márquez and Dely Valdés may sound as the first to come in mind when the conversation revolves around the best CONCACAF players of all time, however there have been some legandary figures left out of the IFFHS lists and XI selections. Like Massachusetts-born Bert Patenaude (1909-1974) who had been officially credited by FIFA as the scorer of the first hat-trick in the World Cup history (USA – Paraguay 3-0 on 17 July 1930) winning also the 1930 Bronze Boot. He scored 174 goals in 170 games in various leagues throughout the States and also 6 in 4 matches for the national team. Despite his great goal ratio, he did not make the IFFHS’ top32 in 2000. Same goes for 1996 and 1998 Gold Cup hero for Mexico, Luis Hernandez, Costa Rica’s lethal striker Paulo Wanchope, 1994 World Cup poster boy and iconic defender Alexi Lalas and charismatic midfielder Tab Ramos.

A Central American international who could have been knocking on the 2021 Dream Team’s door is Honduran centre-back Maynor Figueroa with a stunning 182 caps and the 2013 English FA Cup medal. But, having to compete with Mexican defenders Carlos Salcedo, Claudio Suárez and Rafael Márquez, Figueroa was not selected by IFFHS. Costarican goalkeeper Keylor Navas with 3 UEFA Champions League trophies seemed like the strongest candidate for the no1 position, but Carbajal’s 5 World Cup appearances proved crucial in IFFHS’ decision to stick with him in the XI.

Other players who could have been in the 2021 Dream Team are Salvadorian Jorge ”Magico” Gonzalez whose likes were praised even by Diego Maradona, talented attacking midfielder Cuahtemoc Blanco, four-time Gold Cup winner Landon Donovan, prolific Mexican striker with a distinguished aerial ability Jared Borghetti, his fella Javier ”Chicharito” Hernandez who enjoyed a successful career with Manchester United and versaltile playmaker Claudio Reyna with 13 seasons in Europe.