It may be hard to believe, but the Liga MX Femenil season is almost halfway to the Liguilla. Eight weeks into the season we have a pretty good idea of who will be contending for the trophy in November and who will be watching the Liguilla as spectators. With the players out for the international break, I wanted to ask some of the smartest people I knew about the season so far and what we could expect going forward.
I asked Ana Caty Hernández, who covers Liga MX Femenil (as well as soccer and sports in general) for TUDN, who the biggest surprise of the Liga MX Femenil season so far has been and she said “I think up until now one of the biggest surprises this tournament has given us is Toluca. They are a very young squad that has an average age of around 20 years old and is based largely around their Mexico U-20 national team players,” referring to Noemi Granados, Natalia Mauleon, and Mariel Román for their recent call up to the U20s. “I think that has lent us to observe a different Toluca team than the one we had been seeing previously. Typically, Toluca doesn’t tend to be a team that has made the Liguilla on a regular basis, and in this campaign, despite not being first or second place, they are in the top part of the table, in fifth place with 14 points. In that regard, I would think they are one of the revelations of the tournament.”
She continued by saying that “in addition to Toluca, I would have to put a Pachuca team that has been doing things well since the start of women’s soccer in Mexico.” She attributes part of their success to how the club supports the players. She did note one knock on Pachuca though. “The only (aside) worth mentioning for Pachuca is they still haven’t won a league title. That said, these two teams are definitely the big revelations of the tournament.”
Amelia Lopez, who writes for FutMexNation and co-hosts the Our Fútbol podcast, says that in her opinion, Chivas has been the biggest surprise so far “not so much because they were ever supposed to be really bad, but given the craziness that happened last season with them not making the playoffs. Granted they’re in eighth place right now but (you’re) seeing the drastic improvement. They’ve integrated Mexican-Americans, Nelly Simón is obviously over there.”
“I was kind of thinking of this,” she continued “not so much as (a) surprise on the performance on the field necessarily, but I think it is a surprise that given the reputation that Chivas has at least for the men’s side as far as only having pure Mexican players, they’ve actually gotten a lot of exposure because of their Mexican-American players the Janelly Farías video really blew up because of how happy she was scoring her goal so that’s another surprise factor for me.”
Adriana Terrazas, who covers Liga MX Femenil for TUDN in addition to her co-hosting the Our Fútbol podcast, says that for her it’s Cruz Azul. “I think actually the biggest surprise so far would be Cruz Azul. This is a team that we were just used to seeing in the bottom of the standings, not really getting any important victories and I think they have five victories so far so I think that’s an enormous improvement so I think they’re the standout team right now because of how much they’ve improved. We haven’t seen other teams like Necaxa that’s been in the league as long and they haven’t even made near as much of an improvement as a team so I think Cruz Azul would be my most surprising team so far.”
Necaxa was Hernández’ choice for the most disappointing team in the league. “I don’t think it can be any other team than Necaxa. They are a team with very little to offer, they are last in the league table with just one point and they’ve been playing in Liga MX Femenil since the 2017 Apertura,” she said. She then pointed out that that it’s not just this season either, as they’ve won once in their last 23 games and “they have only scored 33 times and have conceded 133, which puts them at a -100 goal difference from 46 defeats in 67 games.”
Terrazas agreed, pointing out that considering the history of the men’s side “it’s kind of odd to see them make this many mistakes and not really see an improvement. Their best season is when they got three victories (in the 2018 Clausura), but last season and the season before that they only had one, so it really seems as though they’re really stuck. They don’t have someone to help them out and bring in a good roster.”
It could get better for Las Centellos though. “I mean Cruz Azul did it,” she continues, pointing out that La Maquina Celeste “was in the same situation when the league started off and now they’ve built a really competitive squad.” She thought Necaxa could improve the squad by “bringing in players who are a little bit experienced with the league already, take advantage of the Mexican-American rule and bring in some (of those) players as well, they could probably just do way better.” She did provide a caveat though. “I’m not sure if they could actually compete, seeing as though other teams already have enormous experience but I’m pretty sure they could do way better than they are right now”
Lopez went in a bit different of a direction however, saying that for her “it’s León, just because of the fight they provided last season. I was really excited to see them go up against América (in the Liguilla), and I mean América barely scraped through those playoff legs against them. So to see them (with) only six points and they’re sixteenth halfway through the season, even regardless of where we are right now.” She points out that they’re disappointing because of the missteps they’ve had this season but also “given where they ended the season last time around,” as León finished the last season in fourth place in Group 2 and seventh in the table overall. They’re currently in 16th place and would need to double their total of six points to tie eighth place Chivas in points.