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Mexican Soccer

New Liga MX rule affecting several American players

omargonzalez

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?

Share your thoughts below.

22 comments
  • Beto

    so a Mexican-American player could be born in the States, play in MLS and/or to Europe and later on move to LigaMx, decide to play for the Mexican National Team but still be counted as a foreign player?

    big mistake. the future of these clubs and their national team requires a draw from either side of the boarder. MLS should look to capitalize on this – except that the overall trend is these two nations moving further apart..

    Liked by 1 person

  • Joe

    hypothetically how would you guys see some of our national team players doing if they were to come back to the states as a result of this?

    Like

    • Joe

      Garza potentially being a top back in the league? Omar coming back better than ever? Corona being the next Mix?

      Like

    • Tim

      If they came back to the U.S., it would be a step down in the level of play and $ but at least they get to play on a weekly basis.

      Like

  • Benito Bodoque

    Actually, the rule avoids anything in regards to Nationality. It requires 8 players who were registered at the Mexican FA before the age of 19. The other 10 do not have to comply with this requirement.

    The wording has no nationalities taken into account. The case with players like Baca (who is not American), Omar, Garza, Bornstein is that they arrived after age 18, so they count to the “10” side. Players like Castillo, Guido, Corona, Alvarado count towards the “8” section because they were younger when registered for the first time.

    It’s simpler than the 1000 allocation categories MLS has.

    Like

    • bryan

      dude, don’t get so defensive. no one is saying MLS is much easier to understand. point is, people are not happy about this and as of today, the day before the season starts, the language is still causing issues with those involved in Liga MX. it’s that simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  • BombVoyage

    I’m no expert on Mexican labor law, nor US labor law for that matter, but it seems discriminatory that naturalized citizens would be treated differently than citizens from birth. That would be illegal in the US and EU. I know this from hiring in both places.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bryan

      as long as they register with the FMF before 19, they’re ok. so it’s more about registering by a certain age than anything else. so it’s naturalized citizens who don’t register by 19 who get discriminated against.

      Like

      • RB

        Isn’t it anyone (not just naturalized citizens)? If a dual national player growing up in the US (or elsewhere) doesn’t register by that age, he then has to take up an international slot, right?

        Like

    • RB

      It is not illegal to treat naturalized US citizens differently from those born as US citizens. Try being naturalized and running for President. I am a naturalized Mexican citizen and Tere are also restrictions on me running for / holding elected office in Mexico. So you don’t want to be trying to make that the basis of your argument.

      Like

      • Turkmenbashy

        These are soccer players, not politicians… you are not restricted from plying your trade because you were naturalized. Also, that restriction is only for president… you could still be a supreme court judge if you ever read a law.

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      • slowleftarm

        It is absolutely illegal to treat naturalized citizens different from “natural born” citizens for purposes of US employment laws. The President thing is in the Constitution so that’s different. Not like too many people are going to be “applying” for that job anyway.

        Like

  • Gary Page

    If they are regular starters, I doubt it will affect them much, so guys like Omar and Villafana should be okay. It’s the bench players and fringe players who could be in trouble and may be moving to MLS, is what looks likely to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  • bryan

    this whole thing is going to be very important to keep an eye on. if anything, MLS should take advantage of it and find some way to increase the cap and get some of these guys into MLS. guys who left MLS not only for a tougher league, but because they got paid.

    Like

    • Twomilerule

      Biggest contrast in the leagues is pay scale and roster size. Pay scale might limit MLS in talent but the combo of low pay and roster size paralyses teams with US Open Cup, CCL, and coming off 3 matches in 8 days scenarios.

      Like

    • slowleftarm

      Has nothing to do with the article but anti-American Rob doesn’t care.

      Like

  • johnnyrazor

    Ten foreign players on the 18 man match day roster is quite a few. I surveyed quite a few matches when this was proposed this Spring and didn’t find any teams who fielded more than eight (usually less than that) even with dual nationals.

    I don’t see it having a huge impact on US players going forward.

    Like

    • guwinster

      Yeah, most Liga MX teams have 8-12 foreign players overall. When you factor in injuries, the majority of teams probably couldn’t put 10 non-registered players on a gameday roster even if they wanted to. I don’t think these new rules will really decrease the number of foreigners in Mexico, so much as it will freeze those numbers in place.

      Also, I also doubt that Mexican-Americans will be less attractive because they count the same as Argentinians and Brazilians. Every year most Mexican teams turn over at least 4-6 South Americans as they leave not just the club, but the league entirely. Mexican-Americans are more stable and consistent (if not always better) players. Almost every Mexican American who plays down there ends up spending a significant chunk of their career in Mexico.

      This rule could theoretically affect the US player pipeline at Tijuana, because they tend to sign a lot of South Americans in addition to a lot of Americans, but I think most of the Americans playing at Tijuana were registered in the Mexican league before their 19th birthday, so they should be fine.

      Like

  • cj

    Not to get political. However, I guess Mexico only wants the United States to be fully open to foriegners. Nothing like a little hypocrisy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dalomismo

      LoL. Beware of preemptive apologies and/or comments headed by “not to be…”. Oh…. speaking of hypocrisy- is the limitation MLS has on international roster spots an example of being fully open to foreigners? It’s actually a common practice worldwide in order to assure player development in a nations own league.

      Like

  • Vic

    Mexican teams are going to get really strong with this new rule. They have alot of money and will now be able to sign alot more foreigners. Its bad for Mexican nationals tho.

    Like

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