Mexico slides in FIFA rankings while some national team stars shine

Loss to Colombia costs El Tri a spot; Giménez and Araujo making their marks
El Tri forward Santiago Giménez leads the Eredivisie with 18 goals and he set a new standard for most goals in the Dutch league during a calendar year.
El Tri forward Santiago Giménez leads the Eredivisie with 18 goals and he set a new standard for most goals in the Dutch league during a calendar year. / BSR Agency/GettyImages

El Tri at the end of a trying year

Mexico’s 3-2 loss to Colombia on Dec. 16 saw Jimmy Lozano’s team slip one rung in the FIFA World Rankings – trading spots with Colombia in fact – and El Tri finishes 2023 as the world’s No. 15 team.

As no other squads played a match this month – no FIFA dates in December – there was not any movement in the rankings besides the flip-flop mentioned.

El Tri had an up-and-down year, going through three coaches – Gerardo Martino’s contract expired in January and Diego Cocca was fired after a disastrous start to his brief time in charge that hit bottom in June with a 3-0 loss to Team USA in the Concacaf Nations League.

Lozano took over a week later and guided Mexico to Gold Cup glory, but since then has produced mixed results including an unconvincing win over Honduras in a Nations League quarterfinal series.

The 45-year-old Lozano now has a 7-3-3 mark as El Tri manager and his next task will be to prepare Team Azteca for a Nations League semifinal clash against Panama on March 21. A victory could set up a rematch against a U.S. side that has gone 4-2-0 against Mexico and outscored El Tri 10-3 since a 3-0 loss in a friendly back in 2019.

After that, Lozano & Co will focus on preparing Mexico for the Copa America where El Tri will face Jamaica, Venezuela and Ecuador in what should be a winnable group. 

Prior to the Copa America, the Mexican Soccer Federation has lined up friendly matches against Brazil and Uruguay, two games that should provide El Tri with the competition necessary to enter the prestigious tournament with a goo notion of where they stand.

Team Mexico players in the headlines

Feyenoord striker Santiago Giménez has been setting records this season while starring for the defending Eredivisie champions.

El Tri’s 22-year-old forward surpassed Luis Suárez’s league mark of most goals in a calendar year when he scored Feyenoord’s second goal in a 3-1 win over FC Volendam. That gave Giménez 31 goals in 2023, one better than Suárez compiled while with Ajax in 2009.

Santi has really come into his own since leaving Cruz Azul for the Dutch giants. Last season, he set a record for most goals by a Mexican in his first season in Europe, finding the net on 23 occasions.

That was three better than Luis García (Atlético de Madrid: 1992-93) and “Chicharito” Hernández (Manchester United: 2010-2011) and four more than “Chucky” Lozano scored during his debut season with PSV Eindhoven five years ago.

In addition to the records, Giménez is now recognized as one of the best players in the world. He is also getting attention as a potential transfer target with a move to Atlético de Madrid as the latest destination being bandied about.

Over in Spain, right fullback Julián Araujo has made some noise while on loan with U.D. Las Palmas. Araujo joined FC Barcelona last February though he was ineligible to play for the Spanish giants because his paperwork had not been submitted to La Liga officials on time.

This summer, the Catalans decided to loan Araujo to La Liga minnows Las Palmas where he has gradually earned a spot in the starting line-up. 

As a result of his standout performances across 16 games, the 22-year-old from Lompoc, California, has earned plaudits from the Spanish media. In fact, Araujo was nominated for Best U-23 Player in La Liga for the month of December, alongside Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, Real Sociedad’s Take Kubo, Athletic de Bilbao’s Nico Williams and Girona’s Yan Couto.

In Russia, midfielder Luis Chávez has played well enough to garner attention from English Premier League scouts, as well as the Saudi league.

Although reports of his potential move to the EPL are little more than rumors at this stage, four teams have been linked to Chávez: Fulham, Wolverhampton, Nottingham Forest and Everton.

Back at home, six members of El Tri were crowned Liga MX champions this month. 

Forwards Henry Martín and Julián Quiñones, midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, fullback Kevin Álvarez, defender Israel Reyes and goalie Luis Malagón helped América hoist the club’s 14th trophy with Martín, Quiñones, Dos Santos and Malagón playing starring roles.

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Three additional Team Mexico players were members of the losing team. Midfielders Sebastián Córdova, Diego Lainez and Ozziel Herrera saw action for the Tigres during the Finals.