With just five weeks left to go in the Liga MX Femenil season, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of what each team is doing right, what they’re not doing right, and what the future has in store for each of them.
América is about where we thought they’d be. Top five, hanging with the Regiomontana clubs. Ten points behind Tigres is probably further than they’d like to be, but they’re still in the thick of things and a team that no one in the league can take lightly.
Positives: Jocelyn Orejel has really helped solidify the defense, while Renata Masciarelli has made a lot of people forget somewhat about Jaidy Gutiérrez with her stellar displays in goal. The defense has allowed just 10 goals in 12 games.
Negatives: This team seems snake-bitten. The injuries are piling up, with Jenn Muñoz missing time because of COVID-19 and now with a broken wrist, while Ximena Ríos will miss four to six weeks with a broken toe and Veronica Pérez is out indefinitely with knee surgery. That’s a lot of talent that can’t play at the moment.
Looking ahead: América will get Muñoz and Ríos back in the lineup for the Liguilla, which they’re all but assured to make. They’re talented and deep, and should pose a significant threat to lift another trophy.
Atlas started slowly but has caught fire lately, surging from a low of ninth place in Week 3 to their current perch in third place. They’ve been as tough as they come.
Positives: Alison González is on fire, and her 10 goals has her just one behind Tigres’ Katty Martínez. But she’s far from Atlas’ only scoring threat, as Adriana “Boyi” Iturbide has seven and Joana Robles has five. Atlas is also defensively sound, with Ana Gaby Paz allowing just 11 goals.
Negatives: Fabiola Ibarra will miss the rest of the season due to damage to her right knee. Ibarra has the ability to make something out of literally nothing, and her leadership and work ethic will be missed.
Looking ahead: Atlas has a tough road ahead, as they still need to face Tigres on the road while hosting Pumas and Rayadas. But those are the sorts of games that can prove what a team is made of. Their 3-0 win over Chivas instilled them with so much confidence, which has been evident in their play. If that continues into the Liguilla, look out.
Club Atlético de San Luis
Atlético San Luis isn’t doing all that bad, especially considering it’s only in its third season. It’s a building project for sure, and while it hasn’t been easy it has continued to go in the right direction.
Positives: Atleti has four wins this season, which is one less than their previous two seasons combined (in fairness, last season was shortened to just nine games). They’ve also played well recently, losing to Atlas on the road 2-1 and drawing Chivas 2-2 last week.
Negatives: There’s still a lot to build, and they’re still pretty far from being in the upper echelon of teams in the league. They were blown out 3-1 by Rayadas and 4-1 by Tigres in September.
Looking ahead: Atleti is still mathematically in the Liguilla hunt, and their remaining games are against teams in the bottom half of the table and three of the five are against the three teams at the bottom. It’s a long shot, but they’re positioned well and even if they don’t qualify they could still build some momentum to go into 2021 on.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. After a strong start that saw them blow out Atlas in Week 2 they’ve won one, drawn three, and lost six. They haven’t been in the Liguilla since Week 3 and currently sit in 15th place with the very real possibility of being eliminated from contention next week.
Positives: More often than not, they’ve been decent and not terrible. They got points against Tigres and Pachuca as well as Atlas, and have shown some promise.
Negatives: Out of their seven losses, six have been by two goals or more. They have a lot of gaps to fill and make a lot of mental mistakes. Missed defensive assignments lead to goals even against teams with fairly anemic attacks.
Looking ahead: 2020 hasn’t been kind to any of us, and perhaps a good offseason will help get them back on track. They need help and if they can pick up a couple of free agents during the transfer window it’s not out of the realm of possibility they turn it around. But Cruz Azul will have to invest in the team from top to bottom.
While not much was expected from the borderland club, they’ve performed admirably. They won back-to-back games for the first time in club history and have some players that are developing into dependable players at this level.
Positives: While they don’t have any superstars, they have two goalkeepers in Alondra Ubaldo and Stefani Jiménez who have shown that they’re talented players. Midfielder Cindy Caro and forward Atzimba Casas have also shown they can play at this level.
Negatives: The team is still very green and still could use a few upgrades to the roster, especially on defense. While the goalkeepers are individually good, the defensive unit has allowed 30 goals in just 12 games including a 4-0 loss to Chivas and 5-0 losses to Rayadas and Atlas.
Looking ahead: The next three games are going to be brutal, as they face América, Pachuca, and Tigres. Their goals against after that stretch could be over 40, which is an absurd amount of goals to concede. But they finish the season out against Xolos Femenil and Puebla and if they can get good results with those matches may have something good to build on entering 2021.
Gallos Blancos de Querétaro
The biggest move of the offseason for me was when Carla Rossi left Tijuana to manage Querétaro. Rossi has taken the team and gotten them solidly in a Liguilla position, tying the team’s best ever point total (20) with five games left to go in the season.
Positives: The club is markedly improved over past iterations. While there are still games to go, it has a positive goal differential, something it’s never done before. The best it had done previously was the inaugural 2017 Apertura when it finished at -10.
Negatives: They’re in the bottom half of the league in goals conceded, although they’re well above the median. They also have yet to face Monterrey and América, which will put these shortcomings to the test.
Looking ahead: Even if they somehow miss out on the Liguilla, this season is such a marked improvement over any other season they’ve had that it should be considered a success. They’ll have plenty to build on in 2021.
Chivas has cooled off a bit in the past couple of weeks, but started the season simply dominating teams. They allowed just one goal in their first six matches while scoring seventeen. They also handed Monterrey their only loss of the season, a 4-2 win in Monterrey.
Positives: Blanca Félix is having a career season in goal, while Alicia “Licha” Cervantes has re-invented herself in Guadalajara. She has ten goals so far this season, which is one goal behind her total for her entire four seasons in Monterrey.
Negatives: Getting beaten by Atlas 3-0 at home seemed to insert doubts, which culminated in a 2-2 draw last week against Atlético de San Luis where they surrendered the tying goal late. They also end the season with a Clásico Nacional against América followed by a trip to El Volcán to play Tigres.
Looking ahead: Chivas is too good of a team to be beaten by themselves. The week off should allow the team to re-focus its efforts and look to come out swinging for their final five matches. Pachuca, América, and Tigres won’t be easy, but they are good enough where winning out is possible.
After some offseason pickups, León looked poised to make a serious run at being a contender. But things haven’t worked out at all, and León look almost certain to miss the Liguilla.
Positives: León still has players with potential. Esmeralda Verdugo isn’t far removed from the 2019 Clausura where she scored four goals and helped lead Club América to the Liguilla semifinals. Lucero Cuevas is still the same player who scored 43 goals in five seasons with América. These players and others have shown potential and proven their worth at various points in their career.
Negatives: With all of this potential, León has only scored 12 goals and could be mathematically eliminated from the Liguilla as early as this weekend. They’ve also allowed 22 goals, which is in the bottom third of the league.
Looking ahead: León will be back in the Estadio Camp Nou according to a press release, so not having to play in the Casa Club will be a load off of everyone’s minds. They’ve also got games against teams like San Luis and Cruz Azul that could be used as building blocks. But something needs to happen during the offseason to inject some life into the team. It’s been on the cusp of transforming into a top team for a few seasons but just hasn’t taken the leap.
The team almost started from scratch after moving from Morelia, so some bumps in the road have to have been expected. And while it has been bumpy, they’re currently somehow in 10th place, seven points out of a Liguilla spot with five games left to go.
Positives: I try not to ever compare varonil and femenil sides, but I’ll break that rule briefly to say that the amount of hate the varonil team has gotten regarding leaving Morelia seems to have largely missed the femenil side, and that’s a good thing. They’ve also been able to put together four wins and could still potentially make the Liguilla. They’ve also played most of the top teams already, with only a match against Pumas in November looking like a certain defeat.
Negatives: They’ve given up 36 goals in 12 games, suffering defeats of three goals or more seven times including a 6-0 loss to Monterrey and an 8-0 hiding against América in consecutive weeks. They’ve also only scored nine goals on the season, which is in the bottom third.
Looking ahead: The schedule is comparatively easy from here on out, and they do look like they’re getting their act together. Even if they don’t make the Liguilla this season, they still were able to get some victories and perhaps establish an identity that will serve them well going forward.
The defending champions are ridiculously good and only improved during the offseason. They’ve won eleven and lost just once, a 4-2 loss to Chivas in Week 9. Other than that, they’ve handled everything thrown their way.
Positives: The roster is so deep, that they let Licha Cervantes go to Chivas and still have an 11-0-1 record. Desirée Monsiváis has ten goals and despite her not starting the season as a starter, Christina Burkenroad has eight on a team that has scored 34 goals in 12 games.
Negatives: They lost to Chivas, eked out a 2-1 win over América, and still have Tigres, Pumas, and Atlas to go all while having a target on their backs as the defending champions. Their offensive prowess has lead to defensive lapses too, resulting in only four shutouts on the season.
Looking ahead: It’s not going to be easy because of the strength of the opponents they’re going to face down the stretch. That said, they’re not a team anyone wants to face in the Liguilla regardless of where they finish.
It’s been a slow build for Necaxa, but they’ve stuck with the plan and seem to get better every season. Credit to the club for sticking with Fabiola Vargas, who has done about as good as anyone could have given the circumstances.
Positives: They’ve won more games and scored one less goal than they did in their last full season. They have some players to build around as well, with Doris Meza playing well in goal and the defense holding Tigres and Monterrey to a goal each.
Negatives: Moral victories only carry you so far. A 6-1 defeat by América was the nadir for the club, and while the club seems (that match aside) relatively sound defensively, they’re dead last in goals scored with just five in twelve games.
Looking ahead: If they can develop Dulce Alvarado and Estefany Hernández into legitimate goalscoring threats or pick up a player or two in the offseason they might be able to get up into that next level of teams battling for the remaining 2-4 Liguilla spots with conviction. They’re not that far off.
Pachuca has become a team that’s almost a solid lock to make the Liguilla every year. They’re top third in offense with 18 goals scored and top third in defense with 13 goals conceded, and have held their own with some of the league’s heavyweights.
Positives: Viridiana Salazar has really come into her own over the past few seasons, and they seem to have another budding star in Blanky “Peque” Serrano. They also are close to getting Mónica Ocampo back after being out with a knee injury for almost a full year.
Negatives: Pachuca can’t seem to insert themselves into that upper echelon of teams with América, the Guadalajara teams, and the Monterrey teams. They’re good but never great, and in this league you need to be great to win.
Looking ahead: Getting Ocampo back will be huge if she’s able to contribute like she did when she was healthy, and that might be the final thing to push them into greatness.
Puebla is another team that’s solidly average. They’re currently tied with Mazatlán in eleventh place, seven points out of a Liguilla spot. They’re top half in defense, letting in just 13 goals while grabbing six shutouts.
Positives: They’ve become one of the few teams outside of the top five to develop an identity. They play defensive, counterattacking fútbol and are completely comfortable doing so. They also have a good mix of veteran players such as Lupita Worbis and Brissa Rangel as well as fifteen players under twenty, including Harumi Cornejo, Silvana Zago, Mariela López, and Sofia Jiménez, who are all just fifteen years old.
Negatives: While they are giving these young players professional minutes which will pay off in the long run, they don’t have much to show for it at the moment. They’re next to last in offense, with just seven goals scored on the season.
Looking ahead: They still have games against Tigres and Chivas coming up, which being as far back as they are doesn’t bode well for their Liguilla hopes. They may decide to give some of the younger players more significant minutes and look toward developing them for 2021 and beyond.
Santos is another club that is building their identity. They currently sit ten points out of a Liguilla spot but are still mathematically alive.
Positives: They’ve looked decent against a couple of the big teams, beating Pumas and drawing Chivas. They’ve got a couple of players in Wendy Toledo and Cinthya Peraza who are national team caliber, and have made smart signings such as Perla Navarrete from Tigres and Lucy Lara from Monarcas, the latter of which played college soccer in the United States for Arizona State University.
Negatives: They’re still building, which means they’re not a finished product yet. They struggled against Tigres, Rayadas, and Atlas, losing by a combined score of 10-2 in the three games. Toledo has done far too much work to keep the team competitive, and the offense is consistently inconsistent, scoring just eight goals on the season.
Looking ahead: The team does have promise, and a relatively weak schedule through the end of the season means they may have the best shot of sneaking into the final Liguilla spot.
Another rebuilding season in Tijuana, as Xolos Femenil sit dead last on the table and are the only team thus far that has been eliminated from the Liguilla.
Positives: Not many, although they have some promising players in Jazmín Aguas and Yadira Toraya along with national team regular Itzel González. Inglis Hernández and Renae Cuellar are solid options at forward.
Negatives: The defense has allowed 25 goals, while the offense has scored just eight. They also saw Jocelyn Orejel leave after just two seasons and Esmeralda Verdugo after just one, and manager Carla Rossi left as well. If ever a team needed help, it’s this one.
Looking ahead: Tijuana is uniquely positioned as a club that can draw on the wealth of talent in Southern California as well as Mexico. But they simply can’t keep reinventing themselves season after season. If they can just get some stability, they could easily position themselves as not only challengers to the top five clubs in Mexico but a perfect foil for NWSL and especially Angel City FC two hours north in Los Angeles.
Toluca has regressed over the past couple of seasons, making three Liguilla appearances but looking in danger of missing out this season. They’re currently seven points behind Querétaro for the final Liguilla spot.
Positives: They’ve been largely able to be competitive against the big teams, losing 2-1 to Tigres and 1-0 to Monterrey while drawing Pumas 0-0. They have some good players to build around too, with Yamanic Martínez at center back and Mariel Román and Natalia Mauleon up top.
Negatives: They’re too inconsistent. As well as they did against Tigres, Monterey, and Pumas, they also eked out a win against Tijuana and lost to Mazatlán. They need to be able to consistently beat the teams in the lower part of the table if they’re going to position themselves as contenders.
Looking ahead: They host Atlas and América in back-to-back games, and this could all but sink any chance they have at the Liguilla. Maybe if they can get good results and Querétaro and the other teams falter they can make it, otherwise it’s time to start thinking about 2021.
Tigres has obliterated everyone in their path this season, their only blemish a 1-1 draw against Cruz Azul in Week 5. They’ve scored more goals than anyone else (35) and conceded less (8) than anyone else. Without hyperbole, they’re one of the best teams in the Western Hemisphere right now, and all roads to the Liga MX Femenil title go through them.
Positives: Katty “Killer” Martínez leads all goalscorers with 11, which is remarkable considering she missed the first match after testing positive for COVID-19. Also in the top ten goalscorers of the league is Stefany Mayor, who has seven. But this is a deep team with players at every position that could start immediately at most other teams in the league.
Negatives: If you can think of any, let me know.
Looking ahead: Tigres has already clinched a Liguilla berth and seems to be a lock for superlíder. They do however still need to face Atlas, Rayadas, and Chivas before the season is out, and all three of those teams will look to prove their dominance and establish momentum going into the Liguilla. It won’t be easy, but if there’s a team that’s up to the task, it’s Tigres.
Pumas is still on the cusp of expanding the big five to the big six. Like Pachuca, Querétaro, and a couple of others, they can’t seem to be consistent in their approach. Some weeks they look good, drawing América 1-1 and thrashing Pachuca 4-1. Other times they don’t, losing to Santos, drawing Xolos, and getting thrashed 4-0 by Tigres.
Positives: Ileana Dávila has been the manager almost since day one, and she’s really helped bring along some good players in Melany Villeda, Deneva Cagigas, Dania Padilla, and Laura Herrera. They’re also one of the few teams who can strategically adapt to the competition and succeed with regularity. They’re also defensively sound, giving up nine goals, which trails only Tigres.
Negatives: They always seem to shoot themselves in the foot when it counts, and perhaps it is because a lot of the players are still developing and learning. They also don’t have a dependable goalscorer at the moment, someone like Tigres’ Martínez or Atlas’ Iturbide who can put the team on their back and get a goal when it counts the most.
Looking ahead: They’re a team with a ton of talent and a good coach, and despite games against Monterrey and Atlas on the horizon I think they will still make the Liguilla. Longer term they need to evaluate what will push them over the top, if it’s bringing in a top notch forward or if the ceilings of the players they have are high enough to get them to that next level.