The Primera División de México, better known as Liga MX, is the top professional soccer league of Mexico. It consists of 18 clubs and is definitely the strongest soccer league in North America. Not only that, but MX Liga is also one of the strongest leagues in the Americas in general and the 20th league in the world ranking.
This also means that the league is fantastically popular – in terms of drawing large crowds to the games, in North America, it is only behind NFL and MLB, while in Latin America it’s among the strongest leagues. “The quality of the games makes them very interesting to watch and follow, but also to bet on”, as stated by expert on soccer at WSN.com, Cesar Hernandez.
Like any great league, Liga MX also has an abundance of foreign players. Costa Rica is especially known as an exporter of great soccer players across Latin America. Since it became professional in 1943, the Mexican league had a considerable presence of players from Costa Rica, and this practice continues to this day.
These are some of the best Costa Rican players that played in Mexico:
José Rafael Meza Ivancovich
José Rafael Meza Ivancovich (1920 – 1988) started playing soccer in 1937 when he was 16 years old. The first team he played for was C. S. Cartaginés and after a few years, he was already known as “El Maestro” – mainly due to the new styles of play that he was introducing to Costa Rican soccer.
In Mexico, he started by playing for Moctezuma de Orizaba in 1941. where he was immediately the best goal scorer: he scored 21 goals in 12 games. After playing in other countries for a few years he returned to Moctezuma in 1944, and scored another 21 goals for them.
The following 1946-1947 season he transferred to Atlante and won the Mexican championship.
Mario Cordero (1930 – 2002) better known as Catato or Piernas de Oro, played only one season in the Mexican league, with Atletico Marte. But he absolutely deserves to be a part of this list, as he is remembered as one of the best defenders of all time.
He is certainly a Latin America legend, as he was a part of the Deportivo Saprissa team that went on a world tour in 1959. This was the first time that a team from Latin America went on such a trip. Today, he is remembered for his gallantry, both in the field and outside of it. After retiring as a player in 1964 he continued to have a successful career as a coach, and in that position won four national championships of Costa Rica, and also led the national team.
Hernán Medford, aka Pelicano, is a retired soccer player and coach. He made his debut in 1986, playing for Sagrada Familia. In the Costa Rican league, he also played for Deportivo Saprissa and won three national championships with that club.
In Liga MX, Medford played for Pachuca, León, and Necaxa. To illustrate the respect and admiration that he had as a player and a person in Mexico it is enough to mention that his team Pachuca decided to retire Pelicano’s number 17 after he scored the 100th goal of his career.
Joel Campbell currently plays for Monterey where he was sent on a loan from León.
Two years ago, Joel left Europe for Mexico to sign for Leon. At the start of last year, his move was made permanent when he signed for the club for £1.8 million. After a series of loans, he finally signed a permanent deal – a three-year contract to be more precise.
Campbell made 83 appearances for León – more than he did for any other of the 10 teams he previously played for. But during this time he scored only seven goals and assisted five. And finally, on the 7th of July, it was announced that he will become a new Monterrey player, on a loan, with an option of making it a permanent transfer.
We will have to wait and see if this very talented, but controversial player, will find a permanent home in Monterrey.
Naturally, there is a strong soccer connection between Mexico and Costa Rica. Not only is soccer by far the most popular sport in both of these Latin American nations, but they are compatible on a deeper level. Mexico has one of the best leagues of the Americas, and Costa Rica is a famous exporter of talented players across Latin America and the world.
This makes the link between the two countries unbreakable, as is evident in the long history of Costa Rican soccer players playing in Liga MX. It is certain that this exchange will continue in the future, and that Costa Rican players will continue to make great contributions to Mexican soccer.