With the current Liguilla lineup of Pachuca, Monterrey, Tigres, América, Toluca, Querétaro, Atlas, and Chivas, I wanted to ask who that was currently outside of the picture that would make it in, and who that was in wouldn’t be in mid-November. For Adriana Terrazas, who covers Liga MX Femenil for TUDN in addition to her co-hosting the Our Fútbol podcast, and Amelia Lopez, who writes for FutMexNation and co-hosts the Our Fútbol podcast, they thought Tijuana would be the team that would make it in.
“Definitely Tijuana,” Terrazas said. “I definitely think Tijuana has that Liguilla material that it needs.” The Mexican-American players that the Club Sin Fronteras added have been key to that progression, she says.
“Renae Cuellar already has five goals, Verónica Pérez was injured, but I think whenever she comes back she’ll be really important in the midfield. Jocelyn Orejel (came) in from France also with national team experience, so I think that was also really wise, to get really experienced players on every line with the team.”
She also weighed off-field factors too. She cites new coach Carla Rossi, who was also Andrea Rodebaugh’s assistant coach in the first seasons, as one of the things that has seen Xolos Femenil improve during this season. “I think they kind of knew what they had (to do) to take advantage of with all of the rule changes.”
“I now see a Tijuana that’s competitive the way I thought it would be in the first season,” she continued. “When the league first started, Tijuana actually had a women’s team.”
“I thought ‘Hey these guys have been playing for awhile. they’re going to have huge advantages,’ and (then the FMF) had all of these rules with the age limits and no Mexican-Americans and stuff like that, and I think that really hurt them from what we all thought would be a pretty competitive team that first tournament.” Now that the rules around age limits and Mexican-Americans have been altered to allow greater flexibility, “I see a team that we thought we’d see from the first season.”
I asked Ana Caty Hernández, who covers Liga MX Femenil (as well as soccer and sports in general) for TUDN, and she wasn’t necessarily as bullish on Xolos, saying “I think Pachuca, Monterrey, Tigres, América and Chivas will all be in the ‘fiesta grande’. Meanwhile, the teams that will be fighting for a place will be Toluca, Querétaro, Atlas and Cruz Azul.”
“Cruz Azul is a team that started the season well, but that has been underperforming the last few weeks,” she continued. “If Cruz Azul manage to dominate their style of play in better form, they could be one of the big surprises of the Liguilla. Let’s not forget that, as opposed to the male side, Cruz Azul has struggled in Liga MX Femenil. They changed more than half their squad for this tournament and acquired a new manager. All of these things I think could be important so that Cruz Azul can have a better output level in the league.”
Lopez agreed with Terrazas however about Xolos. “I feel like Xolos is going to make it,” she said. It wouldn’t be an easy path though. “In order for Xolos to make it, the only one that I feel like will factor into that is Querétaro, and it’s because Querétaro has such tough games coming up the next couple of weeks.” With Los Gallos Blancos having matches upcoming against Pachuca, Xolos, Chivas, and América, Lopez says “I can see those games not working out for them, where they miss the playoffs and Xolos squeezes on through.”
While they may not have agreed about who would make it in, Hernández and Terrazas agreed with Lopez about Querétaro not making it in. When I asked Hernández who wouldn’t make it in, she didn’t hesitate. “Querétaro is currently sixth with 13 points, but I don’t think that will be enough. At the end, the better squads usually prevail, and in that regard, on paper Cruz Azul would have to surpass Querétaro.”
“For those reasons,” she continued, “I think Cruz Azul goes in while Querétaro goes out because I’ve also seen strong Toluca and Atlas teams among squads of similar level.”
Terrazas said “I think that would be Querétaro. I think they’ve probably taken advantage of having an easier calendar to this point. They’re sixth place. I don’t think they’ll make it I don’t think they have such a strong squad.”
“They have good players but not an entire team that’s strong as a unit,” she elaborated. “They probably will leave the top eight places whenever they face Tigres, Monterrey, América, so I think that will be the team that we see missing out on the Liguilla.”