The Mexican national team is historically the top side in their own region, CONCACAF. That’s of course all the nations in North and Central America and the Caribbean. But they have also shined to the south, as frequent invitees to CONMEBOL’s Copa América, the South American championship. Mexico’s record in Copa America is a good one, as they are the best guest team to ever play in the tournament.

Mexico’s history at Copa America

Since 1993, CONMEBOL has guest teams to participate in every edition of the Copa América. In 2021, however, no guest teams participated due to COVID-19. Since CONMEBOL only has ten teams, the addition of these invited sides helps fill out the format of the tournament (usually three groups of four teams). Mexico has been one of these teams on every occasion except for 2019 and 2021.

While El Tri has not won Copa América – no guest team ever has – their performance has proven their quality going up against the best the Western Hemisphere has to offer in the sport.

In their first seven appearances at Copa, from 1993-2007, Mexico made it out of the group stage each time.

This period coincided with their strongest finishes a the tournament as well. Third-place honors were won in 1997, 1999, and 2007. Mexico made it to the final, but lost, in both 1993 and 2001. These runner-up finishes are the only two times any non-CONMEBOL nation has played in the Copa América final.

And only Honduras, in 2001, has also managed to place 3rd as an invited side.

1997 was one of Mexico’s three third-place finishes at Copa America
1997 was one of Mexico’s three third-place finishes at Copa America

1997 was one of Mexico’s three third-place finishes at Copa America

Beating them at their own game

Despite not being a South American team, and only participating since 1993, Mexico has achieved more at Copa than some actual South American nations.

Ecuador and Venezuela have never made a final, nor placed third, at Copa América. So Mexico has both of them beat.

In terms of total medals won (1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd place combined), Mexico is actually ahead of Bolivia by a count of 5 to 2. Bolivia, however, has won the tournament and placed second. Mexico meanwhile is buoyed by three bronze finishes.

While Mexico did not make it out of the group in two of their last three appearances, their overall record remains impressive.

A total tally of 19 wins, 13 draws, and 16 losses, with a 66/62 goals for/goals against mark, has Mexico as a winning side overall in their history at the competition.

Competing against the likes of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, this is no small accomplishment.

Now Mexico will be looking ahead to 2024. The next Copa América will be held in the United States. But El Tri is a de facto home team in the USA. With group games slated for Houston, LA, and Phoenix, they’ll no doubt have massive support at each match. This “home” cooking helped them to the quarterfinals in 2016 – their last appearance at Copa – which was also staged in the US.

Besting their high water mark at the tournament will be no easy task. But with Ecuador, Venezuela, and Jamaica in their group, they should have no issues making the knockout phase.

And from there, anything can happen.

Photos: Imago.

Copa América 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Copa!
Copa América Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
Key Dates: Learn All the important dates to mark on your calendar
Copa (United States of) América: South America's biggest tournament comes back to the USA
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer