The first round of the Liga MX Femenil Liguilla is done, and rather than focus on the teams that are still in it, I’m going to focus on the four teams that exited as November turned into December. Querétaro, América, Tigres, and Rayadas are all still writing their 2020 stories, and we’ll tell those when the time comes. But for now, it’s time for Atlas, Chivas, Pachuca, and Pumas to close the chapter on this year.
Atlas - Atlas was the first to crash out, and perhaps the most surprising. While Carla Rossi and Querétaro are the feel good story of plucky underdogs showing they’re for real and they fully deserve all of the attention and plaudits coming their way, the fact of the matter is that Atlas is far too talented of a team to have gone out to them. Atlas was missing Fabiola Ibarra, but had performed well in her absence through the end of the season, winning seven and losing only once to Tigres. Thanks to a Paola García goal deep in stoppage time of the first leg, Atlas was up a goal and headed back to Alfredo “Pistache” Torres. Rossi indicated they were going to make changes after the first match, and they did just that. The first goal from Gallos was a gift from goalkeeper Ana Gaby Paz, the second was a penalty with 14 minutes to go in the game. Adriana Orozco’s goal was the result of hard work, but Atlas’ defense simply has to stop her. There should be some tough questions asked about this team and if they’re able to turn some of their regular season dominance into post-season success.
Chivas - Chivas was the second to go out and it was almost as disappointing as their cross-town rivals’ exit. The team that had dominated for so much of the season, allowing just one goal in the first six games gave up three in the two games against América, two of which were at home. Credit to América, who persevered through injuries to key players and defeated their biggest rivals, but Chivas has to be better there. Perhaps it’s a bit harsh to judge since it’s Edgar “El Chore” Mejía’s first season in charge, but they were atop the league for so long that the potential to reign supreme was evident. The good news is that the team doesn’t have any real glaring holes that need filling, and this experience should no doubt leave them hungry in 2021.
Pachuca - Pachuca going out isn’t a surprise. Tigres has been playing impeccable fútbol for months now and Pachuca barely beat out Santos and Mazatlán to make the Liguilla. The 5-2 aggregate was also fair, all things considered. Pachuca however really needs to examine the club and see what they want to be. They have some established talent on the team especially in the attack, with Viridiana Salazar, Lizbeth Ángeles, and the recently healthy Mónica Ocampo. They also have some very promising young players, with 16-year-old Blanky Serrano getting over 900 minutes this season and 17-year-old Andrea Balcazar scoring the only goal by a Pachuca player during the Liguilla. But the club’s defense gave up 25 goals, the most of any Liguilla team, and they were the only Liguilla team with a goal differential in the red. They need someone to step up, be it goalkeepers Gaby Machuca or Paola Manrique or defenders like Sumiko Gutiérrez, Fátima Arrellano, or Paola Manrique, or they need to consider bringing in someone to help push this team to the next level.
Pumas - Pumas did well but like Pachuca ran into a team from Monterrey that’s out to set the world on fire. A respectable 1-1 draw in CU against Rayadas gave fans hope, but that was quickly doused after a 4-0 thrashing in Monterrey. Unlike Pachuca, Pumas did very well defensively during the regular season but weren’t much of a threat offensively. This played out in the second leg as three of the four goals came after the half when it was evident they needed to push forward to try to get a tying goal against Rayadas. The team’s back line of Bibiana Quintos, Dirce Delgado, Deneva Cagigas, and Diana Gómez in front of Melany Villeda is solid, but they’ll need to upgrade in midfield and perhaps up top at striker if they’re going to reach a level where they’ll be able to get past a team like Rayadas. Anisa Guajardo’s first full season in Liga MX Femenil is under her belt, and she and Edna Santamaria could be a dangerous partnership if they can develop some good chemistry. If they can’t, Ileana Dávila may need to think about drastically altering how her team is structured.