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Liga MX Femenil recap: 2021 Apertura, Liguilla Semifinals

It’ll be a Tigres vs. Rayadas Final once again after an exhilarating week of Liguilla soccer.

Selene Valera (L) of America fights for the ball with Jackie Ovalle (R) of Tigres during a Semifinal second leg match between Tigres and America as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX Femenil at Universitario Stadium on December 13, 2021 in Monterrey, Mexico. Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

For the fourth time in the last five Liga MX Femenil Finals, it’ll be a Clásico Regiomontano as Tigres and Monterrey. While longtime fans of the league may not be excited for this matchup yet again deciding who will be the standard bearer for the league, even they have to admit these are two of the best teams in the league and would be good value in competition against the best clubs in the hemisphere.

Tigres roars past América: América looked good in this for 135 of the 180 minutes of the series, getting a 2-1 lead in the opener in front of a good crowd at Estadio Azteca and holding Tigres scoreless through the first 45 minutes at El Volcán. But it all changed in the 57th minute when América conceded a free kick and Liliana Mercado hit a worldie to draw the aggregate level with Tigres going through on their being the higher seed. That opened the floodgates, as the América side set up to defend was in the awkward position of having to try to go forward and get goals against a Tigres team adept at the counterattack. Stephany Mayor added one in the 63rd to put Tigres through without the tiebreaker, and María Sánchez added two more in the 69th and 85th as Tigres got their third 4-0 win out of the four games they’ve played in the Liguilla to move on to the Final.

Rayadas moves past Atlas: Atlas opened the series with a 1-0 win at an empty Estadio Jalisco, with Alison González picking up the goal as well as the Golden Ball award before the start of the match. González also got the first goal of the second match, sending the teams to the locker rooms with Atlas having a two goal lead. But Rayadas are still Rayadas, and Christina Burkenroad came up huge in the 55th minute when she was left completely unmarked in the box and got onto a cross in from the corner by Aylin Aviléz. Then in the 68th minute it was Diana Evangelista with a bit of magic, taking a touch and hitting an absolutely perfect shot into the top of the net to give Monterrey the advantage of being the higher seed. Atlas simply couldn’t answer, and Rayadas will again challenge archrivals Tigres for the Liga MX Femenil crown.

Notes and other things: Keeping with the theme from last week, I want to look back at the two teams that were eliminated and why they should be excited for next season.

América

Where they went wrong: América played the first game well, however letting Tigres pull one back in the 82nd minute was just enough daylight. They hung on as long as they could in the second game, but because they’d been set up so defensively there was no way they were coming back once the dam broke.

Why they should be excited for next season: They’ve still got a solid core of players, from Renata Masciarelli, Jocelyn Orejel, and Janelly Farías in the back to Kiana Palacios and Dani Espinosa up top. Having Sarah Luebbert return would also be good. Luebbert started out slow on her loan stint from the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL and got injured, but really found her groove late, scoring a huge goal in the Azteca in the opening match against Tigres. What América needs more than another top forward however is consistency in the midfield and help at outside back. If they can get at least one of these areas figured out they’ll be a good bet to make it back to the Finals next season.

Atlas

Where they went wrong: This one is tough. Atlas did everything right but just couldn’t hold off Rayadas, going out solely because of being the lower seed. Alison González coming off injured at the half was the game-changing moment, and it’s hard to fault anyone for that.

Why they should be excited for next season: They did everything right when it counted this season. After a gutting loss to archrival Chivas they went on an absolute tear, going undefeated in eleven straight before finally falling to Rayadas on two worldie goals. Their roster is solid top-to-bottom, and once they were finally healthy in the latter part of the season they looked unstoppable.

Final round (all times as listed):

Friday, December 17:

2 Monterrey vs. 1 Tigres UANL - 9:00 PM - FOX Deportes (United States), FOX Sports (Mexico), FOX Sports app

Monday, December 20:

1 Tigres UANL vs. 2 Monterrey - 8:00 PM - TUDN (United States and Mexico), Facebook