Greatest Strikers to Play for the Mexico National Team

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

Greatest Strikers to Play for the Mexico National Team

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    Mexico have had a notable crop of strikers throughout history; some made their career in the local league while others found success abroad.

    All of them have been cornerstones of the national team at different times, proving how talented and skillful they are.

    Their clubs have also benefited from their wit, creativity, leadership and abilities.

    Let’s take a look at the best strikers that have worn the El Tri jersey.

Honorable Mentions

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    Horacio Casarin is one of Mexico’s most influential and famous players. Casarin controlled the ball in style because he started his career as a defender. However, he was quickly moved to the striker position. He was a goal machine and grabbed a total of 236, 15 of those with El Tri.

    Salvador Reyes played in three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1966) and became the top scorer of Mexican club Chivas de Guadalajara with 122 goals to his count. He was very quick, accurate and a superb dribbler.

    Francisco Palencia represented El Tri in three Gold Cups, two World Cups and two Confederations Cups, including the 1999 edition that Mexico won. He had a powerful long-distance shot with the right foot. El Gatillero scored 12 times in 80 appearances.

    Ricardo Pelaez was a specialist when it came to headers. He was always in the right spot inside the box when the team had a corner kick. A quick and intuitive player, Pelaez sent the ball away 16 times in 43 games, including two in the 1998 World Cup against South Korea and the Netherlands.

    Luis Flores was one of the first Mexican footballers to join a Spanish club. In 1986 he left Pumas for Sporting de Gijon and two years later he wore the Valencia jersey. Flores played 62 times with El Tri and scored 29 goals, three of them in the 1994 World Cup qualification. He could shoot with both feet and solve a play from inside or outside the box with ease.

8. Enrique Borja

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    Goals with Mexico: 31

    Appearances with Mexico65

    Before Javier Hernandez there already was a player that could score with any part of his body; he was none other than Enrique Borja.

    Cyrano was a key player inside the box. He moved in style and surprised the defenders and goalkeepers on a regular basis.

    Borja scored Mexico's only goal in the 1966 World Cup and he did it at Wembley Stadium.

    He became an icon of Club America, where he played from 1969 to 1977 and scored 103 times.

7. Carlos Hermosillo

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    Goals with Mexico35

    Appearances with Mexico90

    Hermosillo received his first cap in 1984 when he played for Club America. He quickly became one of the most notable footballers in the country. While wearing the Cruz Azul jersey, he topped the scorers' table in three successive seasons (1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96).

    His aerial game was enviable; he could change the score of any game with one header. Although he wasn't as skilled with his feet, Hermosillo took advantage of his speed to steal the ball from defenders and shoot from close range.

    Most of his goals with El Tri came in friendly games and in World Cup qualifications. He only played two World Cup matches, both in 1994.

6. Luis Garcia Postigo

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    Goals with Mexico: 29

    Appearances with Mexico: 79

    Now a full-time analyst for TV Azteca, Luis Garcia was a stalwart of the national team in the '90s.

    He was a superb finisher due to his speed, ball control and powerful long-distance shots. Garcia claimed the top scorer award of the local league in two successive seasons, which put him in Atletico de Madrid's radar.

    He left for Spain in 1992 and set the record as the best Mexican scorer in his debut season in Europe with a total of 20 goals.

    Later, Garcia played for Real Sociedad, where he only appeared 10 times. He moved back to Mexico in 1995.

    One of his career highlights is being the top scorer of the 1995 Copa America along with Gabriel Batistuta (four goals).

5. Luis Roberto Alves

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    Goals with Mexico30

    Appearances with Mexico84

    Zague may have not been the best playmaker, but he was certainly one of El Tri's deadliest finishers.

    He took advantage of his stride and speed to leave defenders behind. His height (6'4") was a very valuable asset in set pieces, but Zague's true talent was to score with first-time shots.

    Alves used both feet and could get into the box either from the left or the center easily.

    In the 1993 Gold Cup he scored 11 goals, setting a record that still stands.

    He had a successful club career, too, especially with Club America, where he played 436 times and scored 167 goals.

4. Luis Hernandez

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    Goals with Mexico35

    Appearances with Mexico85

    El Matador is easily recognized by his long blond hair, but beyond his physical attributes he is known for being the first Mexican to score more than two goals in the same World Cup. He accomplished the feat in 1998 with a total tally of four.

    Hernandez had a great goal-scoring knack; he was in the right place in every play, especially when he received crosses from the sidelines.

    His most successful tournament came in 1997, when he represented El Tri in the Copa America. Hernandez sent the ball away six times, becoming the top scorer of the event.

    In the local league he played for eight teams, but he showed his best level with Tigres, where he scored 38 goals in 64 matches.

3. Javier Hernandez

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    Goals with Mexico35

    Appearances with Mexico57

    Chicharito is the only active player of this list. In a four-year span, he has scored more goals than any other striker who has played for El Tri.

    Hernandez is also the first Mexican who has landed a contract with Manchester United, as well as Mexico's top scorer in the Premier League.

    His speed and mobility inside the box set him apart as a one-of-a-kind player. He is one of the best substitutes in world football, with the ability to score with basically any part of his body.

    He is the second-best Mexican scorer in the Gold Cup, with seven goals in six games (all of them in the 2011 edition).

2. Jared Borgetti

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    Goals with Mexico46

    Appearances with Mexico89

    Borgetti became a man to follow when he played for Santos Laguna. During his eight seasons with the Mexican club he scored 189 goals in 295 games.

    He played his first match with El Tri in 1997, but it wasn't until 2001 that he showed his true talent.

    El Zorro del Desierto scored 32 times from 2001 to 2005, 2004 being his most prolific season with 10 goals in 12 appearances.

    He played in two World Cups, two Copa Americas and one Confederations Cup.

    Borgetti's trademark was his powerful header and his ability to leave rivals behind. He was a big threat whenever El Tri had a set piece.

1. Hugo Sanchez

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    Goals with Mexico29

    Appearances with Mexico: 58

    The best Mexican striker of all time, Hugo Sanchez didn't have it easy with El Tri. Despite his great success with Real Madrid, Hugol never shined with Mexico mainly because he wasn't at his prime.

    El Tri didn't qualify to the 1982 World Cup and missed the tournament in 1990 due to a sanction imposed by FIFA as a result of lining up overage players in the 1989 World Youth Championship.

    Sanchez played in three World Cups (1978, 1986 and 1994) but only scored once, against Belgium in Mexico City.

    His club career has been the best a Mexican has ever had. He collected five Pichichi trophies, two Don Balon awards and made it to the FIFA 100 list.

    His passion for the game combined with his temperament set him apart as a hardworking and consistent footballer.