Is Mexico’s Concacaf dominance fading away? Houston Dynamo FC coach Tab Ramos, the former US U-20 head coach, feels signs have pointed in that direction over the past two months.
Ramos, speaking with media ahead of Houston's first Texas derby game against Austin FC on Wednesday night (9 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), said the US men's national team's back-to-back title wins, as well as Canada's run to the Gold Cup semifinals, suggest the power balance may be shifting away from El Tri.
“I think when you look at what the US team did in both the Nations League and the Gold Cup, and when you look at what Canada has done now with the athletes that they have and the benefits they are getting from participating in the MLS and being part of it, I think Mexico has their work cut out for them in the future,” Ramos said. "So, I think maybe 10 [to] 15 years from now, I think maybe the next generations of players that are coming through are going to wonder why Mexico dominated for so long.”
“This makes me think back to 2017 when the US team didn't qualify to the World Cup and everybody said, ‘We have to blow up the system, the system is not working. All the youth has to be redone, we need to blow up the Development Academy,’” said Ramos, who was capped 81 times as a USMNT midfielder. “All these things that came out and at the moment I remember saying, ‘This is not the problem, we have great players. The only problem at the time was the senior national team.’”
Several players that Ramos coached at the 2019 U-20 World Cup, including fullback Sergino Dest and forward Timothy Weah, are now USMNT maintsays under head coach Gregg Berhalter. Former Philadelphia Union center back Mark McKenzie and one-time FC Dallas homegrown defender Chris Richards were also key parts of that U-20 squad, then joined the subsequent senior-team talent boost.
Ramos feels the integration of young talent has done wonders.
“Once that changed over, here you go, we have the fruit of what we have,” Ramos said. “We're playing basically the Gold Cup with what in theory would not be the best team we could put on the field, and they do a great job.”
During World Cup Qualifiers for Qatar 2022, the USMNT will face Mexico on Nov. 12 at FC Cincinnati's TQL Stadium and again on March 24 away from home.