Liga MX shook up its league with the introduction of a new limit on international players, and several Americans can count themselves among those most affected by the new mandate.
The Mexican league changed its international players limit this summer with the introduction of a new rule that allows teams to have just 10 international players on their match day squads. The other eight, meanwhile, must be Mexican-born, while naturalized Mexicans count as part of the 10 foreign players. Before the rule has even been fully implemented, talks have begun over instituting a nine-player limit on foreign-born players.
The rule is meant to curb the increasingly-prevalent practice of naturalizing foreign citizens. However, the mandate also impacts a series of USMNT dual-nationals, who are now counted as foreigners despite having deep ties to Mexico. Under the old rules, only five foreign players were allowed in a squad, but dual-nationals were not counted among them.
As part of the new rule, players with dual Mexican-American nationality can be considered part of the eight players if their first pro registration came before they turned 19. That allows Joe Corona, Paul Arriola, Edgar Castillo and Ventura Alvarado to continue to be counted as domestic players. Former FC Dallas prospect Alex Zendejas is also in the clear after joining Chivas de Guadalajara earlier this summer.
Unfortunately, the new rule leaves players like Omar Gonzalez, Jorge Villafana, Greg Garza and Luis Gil as foreign players, despite their legal birthright as Mexican citizens due to their family heritage.
The question remains on how teams adapt going forward. The option of bringing in dual-nationals has suddenly become much less enticing. Players like Gonzalez, a key signing for champions Pachuca last year, are now no more attractive than the signing of any other centerback from around the world. Would Pachuca have pushed so hard for Gonzalez knowing that they could have brought in an Argentinian, Spanish or Colombian centerback at the same price with the same limits?
On the other hand, American players are now considered foreigners, much like they are in every other league around the world. The mutually-beneficial relationship between Liga MX and U.S. stars is now gone, as the league now offers no true benefits that can’t be found in other countries throughout the world.
The rule also affects current players like Garza, who is currently looking to break back into the Tijuana team after battling through injuries. Can Tijuana justify holding on to a player who will immediately come back and occupy an international position?
Liga MX has long been a home for American players looking to prove themselves outside of MLS, but with the new ruling in place, breaking into one of the region’s top competitions has become even more difficult for Americans.
What do you think of the new rule? How will it impact American players?
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