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Liga MX Femenil 2019 Apertura preview

Here’s what you need to know about Liga MX Femenil as the 2019 Apertura kicks off.

Monterrey v Tigres UANL - Final Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX Femenil Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

While Mexico didn’t make the Women’s World Cup this time around, their domestic league is starting today and is seen as a critical component of Mexico joining the United States, Canada, and Jamaica as a legitimate Concacaf power.

There have been a few changes since the last tournament. Lobos BUAP no longer has a team in Liga MX Femenil, while the addition of both Atlético San Luis and FC Juárez means there are now 19 teams in the league. The groups are gone, and each team will play all other teams once in the tournament with one team getting a bye week every week.

Also for the first time, Mexican-Americans are allowed in the league. Each team can sign a maximum of six Mexican-Americans and a maximum of six players over the age of 25.

Week 1 Schedule

Friday, July 12:

Necaxa vs. Cruz Azul

Saturday, July 13:

UNAM Pumas vs. Tijuana

Sunday, July 14:

Puebla vs. Necaxa

Monday, July 15:

Morelia vs. Monterrey

Veracruz vs. Querétaro

León vs. Juárez

Tigres UANL vs. Guadalajara

Atlético San Luis vs. Atlas

Santos Laguna vs. Pachuca

Bye week: América

Team Previews


Previous record: 12W 2L 2D (First in Group 1). Lost in semifinal round to Tigres UANL.

Key departures: Cecelia Santiago (PSV Eindhoven - The Netherlands), Casandra Cuevas (Tijuana)

Key additions: Claudia Cid (Lobos BUAP), Renata Masciarelli (Duquesne University - United States), Wendy Morales (Veracruz), Mayra Ríos (Lobos BUAP)

Outlook: Club América has always been one of the better clubs since the start of Liga MX Femenil, and this season should be no different. While losing Santiago and Cuevas will hurt, the addition of Cid and Morales on defense should help offset that. Masciarelli will challenge Jaidy Gutiérrez and Aurora Santiago for the starting goalkeeper job, although both Masciarelli and Gutiérrez have started the last two friendlies the teams have played. With the emphasis on defense Las Águilas may be sacrificing some of their scoring prowess, however now having the face the likes of Monterrey, Tigres, and Atlas over the course of the season it may turn out to be a prudent decision.


Previous record: 11W 1D 4L (Third in Group 2). Lost in quarterfinal round to Pachuca.

Key departures: None

Key additions: Norali Armenta (Monterrey)

Outlook: Atlas was a good team in the 2019 Clausura, but they only won one of their four games against the Monterrey teams with a combined score of 7-3. Armenta will take some of the scoring load off of Fabiola Ibarra, Alison González, and Adriana Iturbide, but the big question is around the defense. Can Ana Paz take the next step to be the elite goalkeeper Atlas needs? Will the defense in front of her be able to step up against some of the high-octane offenses? If they can, it could be the difference between Atlas being good and Atlas being great.

Atlético San Luis

Previous record: First season.

Key departures: None

Key additions: Cintia Monreal, Paola Urbieta (Querétaro), Mais García, Sharon Morales, Liliana Zepeda, Alejandra Vázquez, Edith Carmona (Cruz Azul), Tamara Romero (Querétaro), Belkis Escalante, Naomi Martínez (Toluca), Paola Alemán

Outlook: It’s going to be a tough season for Atlético San Luis in their first season in Liga MX Femenil. The players that have all been brought in have been given a great opportunity to reinvent themselves, and while some will undoubtedly shine they’ll be facing teams that have been together for years.

Cruz Azul

Previous record: 3W 4D 9L (Eighth in Group 1).

Key departures: Edith Carmona (Atlético San Luis)

Key additions: Alejandra Tovar (Puebla), Karen Mejia (Lobos BUAP), Rubí Ruvalcaba (Lobos BUAP), Jessica Tenorio (Puebla)

Outlook: Cruz Azul seemed to be making positive strides forward toward the end of last season, and they totally re-tooled the squad during the offseason. They’ll have to contend with the loss of Sharon Barba, who had a surgical procedure earlier this week. It will be interesting to see how much La Maquina Celeste improved over last season and how Barba’s absence will counter that. If she’s out for a long time, it could be a very long season for Cruz Azul.


Previous record: 7W 2D 7L (Fifth in Group 2).

Key departures: Norma Palafox, Arlett Tovar (Santos Laguna)

Key additions: Melissa Sosa (Santos Laguna), Janelly Farías (LA Galaxy OC - United States), Damaris Godínez (Puebla)

Outlook: Chivas missed out on the playoffs thanks to a late season surge by León as well as their own tailspin, losing five of their final seven games. Norma Palafox left to compete in the reality/fitness show Exatlón Miami, however Chivas have Brenda Viramontes and Ana Huerta to pick up the slack offensively. New additions Janelly Farías and Damaris Godínez will enhance a defense that conceded 17 goals last season. If they can put it all together, Chivas should have no problem returning to the Liguilla (playoffs).


Previous record: First season.

Key departures: None

Key additions: Verónica Pérez (América), Flor Rodríguez (Lobos BUAP), Celeste Vidal (Monterrey), Martha Sáenz (Monterrey), Berenice Anchondo (Cruz Azul)

Outlook: Much like Atlético San Luis, Juárez has had to pull together a team made up largely of castoffs from other clubs. That isn’t to say that there isn’t some quality - Verónica Pérez was buried behind Casandra Cuevas and Lucero Cuevas at striker with América and Flor Rodríguez scored two goals in her eight appearances with Lobos BUAP. But it’ll be a tall order to get this team to gel in a coherent manner in such a short amount of time.


Previous record: 7W 3D 6L (Fourth in Group 2) Lost in quarterfinal round to América.

Key departures: Selene Valera (América), Gabriela Herrera (Cruz Azul), Michelle González (Guadalajara), Tania García (Chicago State - United States), Leticia Vázquez (Santos Laguna), Montserrat Peña (Toluca)

Key additions: None

Outlook: León made a great run at the end of last season to beat out Chivas for the final Liguilla spot in Group 2, however their future seems a bit uncertain. León lost a lot of solid players during the offseason and didn’t replace them with anyone. Center back Selene Valera started every game for them last season is now with Club América. Goalkeeper Gabriela Herrera started seven games last season but is now with Cruz Azul. If some of their younger players can step up they may be able to eke into a playoff spot again, but it’s going to be a tough road ahead for La Fiera.


Previous record: 3W 5D 8L (Seventh in Group 2).

Key departures: Estela Gómez (Santos Laguna)

Key additions: None

Outlook: Morelia will benefit by not facing the Monterrey and Guadalajara teams twice each season, however their record last year indicates there’s room for vast improvement. Their only big departure was Estela Gómez to Santos. Gómez had three goals in fourteen games last season as an attacking midfielder, so someone will need to step up to help improve the team’s offensive output.


Previous record: 13W 2D 1L (First in Group 1). Lost to Tigres UANL in the Final.

Key departures: Hilary García (UNAM Pumas), Gabriela Álvarez (UNAM Pumas)

Key additions: Lucía Rodríguez (UNAM Pumas), Ricla Rajunov (UNAM Pumas)

Outlook: Monterrey were the best team in the league up until the Final last May, with their only regular season loss coming in Week 14 against their nemesis and cross-town rivals Tigres. What was essentially a player swap with Pumas will be interesting, as García and Álvarez were key components of the team at central defensive midfielder who are now replaced with full back Lucía Rodríguez and attacking midfielder Ricla Rajunov. While the kind of run they had last season will be a tall task, if there’s a club up for it it’s Rayadas.


Previous record: 1W 4D 11L (Eighth in Group 2).

Key departures: Brenda García (Cruz Azul)

Key additions: None

Outlook: Grim. Necaxa sent captain Brenda García to Cruz Azul and brought in no one to help a team that scored only nine goals in a league where teams averaged 21 over the 18 game season. The silver lining is that they’re a Group 2 team that no longer have to play the Monterrey and Guadalajara teams twice in the same season.


Previous record: 11W 3D 2L (Second in Group 1). Lost to Monterrey in the semifinal round.

Key departures: None

Key additions: Paola Manrique (Lobos BUAP), Gloria Narváez (Lobos BUAP)

Outlook: Pachuca had a good offseason, bringing in Gloria Narváez and Paola Manrique from Lobos BUAP in addition to Sumiko Gutíerrez from Policía Federal and Delfina Santellan from Lindsey Wilson College in the United States. It remains to be seen however what role 32 year old Mónica Ocampo will have - if any. Ocampo’s bio on the Liga MX Femenil site lists her as being out of contract, although she has featured in team events recently.


Previous record: 8W 4D 4L (Third in Group 1). Lost to Tigres UANL in the quarterfinal round..

Key departures: Guillermina Martínez (Cruz Azul), Damaris Godínez (Guadalajara), Jessica Tenorio (Puebla)

Key additions: None

Outlook: It will likely be a tough season for Puebla, who saw some key players leave without bringing anyone in. Especially troubling is the fact that with cross-town rivals Lobos BUAP’s femenil program ceasing or scaling back dramatically, Puebla were unable to bring in a single player.


Previous record: 1W 3D 12L (Ninth in Group 2).

Key departures: Paola Urbieta (Atlético San Luis), Lorena Rangel

Key additions: None

Outlook: Querétaro allowed a mind-boggling 43 goals in 16 games last season and saw captain Paola Urbieta go to Atlético San Luis in the offseason. They brought in no one to fix any of the myriad of problems, so it looks like it will be another long season.

Santos Laguna

Previous record: 5W 3D 8L (Sixth in Group 2).

Key departures: Claudia Ríos (Toluca)

Key additions: Leticia Vázquez (León), Estela Gómez (Monarcas Morelia), Arlett Tovar (Guadalajara). Michelle Vargas (América)

Outlook: Santos was a team that improved considerably as the 2019 Clausura went on, missing the playoffs by just six points. They’ve added some good players, and with a few good breaks they could be heading to the Liguilla for the first time in club history.


Previous record: 3W 4D 9L (Ninth in Group 1).

Key departures: None

Key additions: Verónica Pérez (Pacific Northwest Soccer Club - United States), Renae Cuéllar (Stjarnan FC - Iceland), Casandra Cuevas (América)

Outlook: It’s a new day in Baja California, as Tijuana have a new head coach in long time assistant Carla Rossi and finally have the ability to sign Mexican-American players. Xolos Femenil wasted no time, signing the first Mexican-American player in Liga MX Femenil history in Verónica Pérez. They’re my dark horse to grab a playoff berth and make some noise this season.


Previous record: 4W 3D 9L (Seventh in Group 1).

Key departures: None

Key additions: Karime Abud, Claudia Ríos (Santos Laguna)

Outlook: Toluca looked like they were just a couple of steps off of being a decent team in the 2019 Clausura, and if Abud and Ríos can gel quickly with Natalia Mauleon and Mariel Román, this could be another team that drastically improves and potentially makes the Liguilla.

Tigres UANL

Previous record: 11W 3D 2L (Second in Group 2). Won the 2019 Clausura.

Key departures: Liliana Rodríguez (Loan - UNAM Pumas), Jaquelín García (Loan - UNAM Pumas)

Key additions: None

Outlook: It’s hard to be critical of the reigning champions, especially with the roster of players they have. The only thing worth pointing out is that the other top teams have all improved while Tigres was content to only bring in one player - Anjuli Ladrón. Nothing against Ladrón, but she might not be enough to keep Tigres ahead of Rayadas, América, and the Guadalajara teams.

UNAM Pumas

Previous record: 7W 1D 8L (Fourth in Group 1). Lost to Monterrey in the quarterfinal round.

Key departures: Ana Karen López (América), Valeria Pérez, Lucía Rodríguez (Monterrey), Ricla Rajunov (Monterrey)

Key additions: Mariela Jiménez (Puebla), Rebeca Zavaleta (Cruz Azul), Dirce Delgado (Toluca), Gabriela Álvarez (Monterrey), Hilary García (Monterrey), Liliana Rodríguez (Loan - Tigres UANL), Jaquelín García (Loan - Tigres UANL)

Outlook: Pumas are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2019 Clausura. Ileana Dávila’s team under-performed, making critical defensive mistakes along the way. If Dávila can get the defense to tighten up and get the new additions integrated into the squad quickly they have a real chance at returning to being one of the better clubs in the league.


Previous record: 5W 2D 9L (Sixth in Group 1).

Key departures: Daniela Alcantar (Return from loan - América), Wendy Morales (América), Dayri Hernández (América), María Tarango (Cruz Azul), Noemi Granados (Toluca)

Key additions: None

Outlook: Veracruz looked to be one of the few femenil clubs that was run better than their varonil counterparts, but the offseason saw several key players leave. They still have a couple of decent players in goalkeeper Zitlalli Gazga and forward Liliana Hernández, but they definitely needed to bring in a few players to augment their roster.