One of the biggest parts of writing an article isn’t the words, but the image(s) that go into an article. Every article has a lead image, the one that’s at the top of the article and goes out on social media. I try and pick an image that is best representative of what I’m talking about in the article. Sometimes it’s something I’ve taken myself, but more often then not I’m at the mercy of what comes into the Getty subscription that SB Nation has. Some matches are pretty well covered and have a ton of photographs that are available, other times (like Liga MX Femenil matches) photos are scant and I have to result to stock photos of stadiums or rely on communications staff from teams to supplement what I have.
Sometimes though I will see an image and while it’s striking, it just doesn’t fit with the story I’m trying to tell. Here are some of my favorites that I haven’t been able to use.
One of the last images taken of Christian “Chucho” Benítez before his untimely death in 2013 at the age of 27. Chucho was a star with Santos Laguna before going on a loan stint with Birmingham City when they were in the English Premier League and ending his career in Mexico with América between 2011 and 2013. Chucho went out a champion, winning in the epic 2013 Clausura Final against Cruz Azul. This photo of him is so well framed: the bright yellow jersey with “Chucho” and the number 11 shaved into his hair completely in focus with the crowd a blur in front of him, as if he’s heading into the unknown.
Another shot that’s just beautifully framed. Brian Lozano scored the game-winning goal for Santos Laguna against Necaxa in what was the penultimate game in Mexico before the mandated shutdown by the FMF due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The players knew this was the last match before things shut down indefinitely, and the two men celebrating in front of an empty Estadio Corona is such a poignant moment. Nothing after this will ever be the same, and these long-time teammates were able to celebrate one last goal at the end of an era.
I love this image of Gabriel Achilier of Monarcas Morelia. Achilier is a 34 year old center back that has featured for his native Ecuador and has been with Morelia since 2017. Shortly after signing with Monarcas, Achilier’s wife and the mother of his three children died of cancer at the age of 29. That he’s been able to continue on and play is a testament to his inner strength, and this photo is such a powerful image. Try as they might, the shadows of Estadio Nemesio Díez can’t quite overtake Achilier, his head held high.
The look of sheer joy on the face of Ofelia Solís as she hugs teammate María Elizondo to celebrate Tigres’ Femenil’s second championship is just so powerful. Tigres has been the gold standard of Liga MX Femenil since the league started, and the sacrifices these women have made have been immense. There have always been naysayers predicting the doom of the league, but Tigres celebrating a championship in front of an almost full Estadio Universitario means so much: for Mexico, for women’s soccer, and for these women in particular.
The last time I went out to Tijuana for a match was for their final match of the 2019 Apertura against rivals León. It wasn’t Xolos’ best game, and they wound up losing 2-1. After the match I went down to the press area and attended what turned out to be coach Óscar Pareja’s final press conference as Xolos manager. The press conference was brief, and after I went to the mixed zone to try and grab some of the players who were still filing out for interviews.
As I did this, I saw flashing lights coming up the ramp from the field. It was the medical cart, which had a fiberglass Millennium Falcon top to coincide with Xolos’ promotion of the Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker movie that had just come out. A man was driving it with a small child on the back, and both were laughing as this tricked-out golf cart came up the ramp from the field toward the mixed zone. I looked at the man and child and we all just started laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Liga MX is so wonderful because it’s completely comfortable in it’s own skin. Teams are who they are, and this just epitomizes to me how fun this league is.