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Liga MX Femenil recap: 2021 Apertura, Week 1

The first week of the season has given us an idea of who got better during the offseason - and who didn’t.

Juarez v Cruz Azul - Torneo Apertura 2021 Liga MX Femenil Photo by Alvaro Avila/Jam Media/Getty Images

After what seemed like an eternity of an offseason, Liga MX Femenil returned this past weekend. There were new faces, including the debuts of the first extranjeras (foreign-born players) in league history as Colombian Vanessa Córdoba, American Angelina Hix, and Brazilian Stephany Ferrer making history as the league continues to evolve.

Gallos Blancos de Querétaro 1, Monterrey 1: The Eva Espejo era in Monterrey got underway while the Carla Rossi era kicked off it’s second season in Querétaro, and both coaches should be happy with what they saw. Gallos played compact, defensive soccer while Rayadas were aggressive, constantly looking for points of attack. It’s perhaps fitting that the league’s all-time leading goal scorer kicked off the season’s scoring when Desirée Monsiváis got her head on a nice ball in from Andrea Sánchez in the seventh minute. Querétaro equalized in the 34th when Rayadas couldn’t clear out a corner kick that was sent into the mixer and Daniela Sánchez pounced on it. From there, goalkeepers Alex Godínez and Vanessa Córdoba put on a show to keep things level.

UNAM Pumas 0, Necaxa 0: Pumas started their season without Ileana Dávila for the first time in club history as the Karina Báez era started on Saturday in a 0-0 draw against Necaxa. Pumas was the much stronger side, with a potential handball not called before the end of the first half that could have changed the outcome greatly. Necaxa however was able to weather the storm and leave CU with a point.

América 2, Santos Laguna 1: A solid performance by both teams in one of the game’s hallowed grounds that was overshadowed by a questionable penalty call. Anahí Rentería got the scoring started in the 22nd minute with a beautiful golazo after Santos forced a turnover. But the lead was short lived as Kiana Palacios got her first Liga MX Femenil goal on a nice redirection on a pass from deep. The controversy struck however in the 75th minute when Marcela Valera did a sliding tackle in the box to dispossess Dani Espinosa of the ball. Espinosa sold it and referee Katia García bought it, however replays showed that if there was any contact on the play it was minimal at best.

Since there is no VAR in Liga MX Femenil, the penalty was converted by Janelly Farías and América took the lead. Linda Frías had a good opportunity to equalize late, but her shot missed the mark and América was able to hang on for the win.

Puebla F.C. 3, León 1: Last season, Puebla was a very defense-oriented team but had a bit of trouble scoring. They had no problem scoring on Sunday, notching three goals for the first time since the 2020 Clausura. Despite Puebla getting a couple of good opportunities early it was León who scored first when Anisa Guajardo was able to get to a rebound on a corner kick that Siena Ruelas couldn’t hang on to. Puebla’s fortunes would change however in the 54th minute when Jessica Tenorio got her head onto a nice cross into the box. Then just two minutes later when a cross in from the left hit off of the back of Mariana Ramos and past Angeles Martínez to give Puebla the lead. Ivonne Najar added an insurance goal in the 63rd when a bad giveaway in the box saw her in alone on goal and she hit a dagger into the back of the net. Dani Calderón thought she had drawn one back for León in the 81st, however the goal was ruled offside.

Toluca 2, Atlas 3: Alison González picked right up where she left off last season, scoring three times in Atlas’ 3-2 win over Toluca. In the seventh minute she tracked back and was able to capitalize on a poor pass by goalkeeper Sandra Lozano, knocking the ball into an empty net from 35 yards out. Then in the 20th minute she hit a shot through traffic that found the back of the net before completing her hat trick in the 46th minute on a shot from 25 yards out off of another poor giveaway from Toluca. Ana Gaby Paz did her part in the Atlas win, making a brilliant save in the 22nd off of a free kick and then two saves in quick succession in the 33rd to become the first goalkeeper in recent memory to have two goals nominated for Save of the Week by the league. She was however unable to stop a rocket of a shot from Destinney Duron in the 43rd or a Diana Guatemala header in the 93rd minute off of a corner kick, but by then it was too little, too late for the hosts.

Pachuca 0, Club Tijuana 0: Itzel González put on a show for Tijuana, earning them a point despite being under the gun for almost the entire match. Charlyn Corral made her Liga MX Femenil debut in the 74th minute but it still wasn’t enough for Pachuca to break through the Tijuana defense.

Tigres UANL 2, Mazatlán FC 0: Tigres didn’t miss a beat since the last time we saw them, downing Mazatlán 2-0. Stephany Mayor put the home side up in the seventh minute when she beat her defender to get on the end of a nice chip in from Jackie Ovalle, deftly coercing the ball into the corner of the net with a soft touch. To her credit, Mazatlán goalkeeper Fer Tarango made a couple of solid saves, including stopping a Jackie Ovalle rocket at almost point blank range in the 33rd minute. Tarango was also bailed out in the 70th minute when Vale Lagunes cleared the ball off of the line when Tarango made a stop but couldn’t hold on to it. Tigres got their second goal shortly after when a good combination play between Stephany Ferrer and Ovalle lead to Ovalle finding a wide open Jana Gutiérrez, who banged home her first goal with Las Amazonas, whose last loss was Week 2 of the 2021 Guard1anes.

Guadalajara 5, Club Atlético de San Luis 0: If there was any evidence of a hangover from their loss in the Finals, Chivas didn’t show it as they thrashed San Luis 5-0. Caro Jaramillo got the first goal of the evening when she got on to a brilliant overhead pass from Licha Cervantes and shot past an exposed Stefi Jiménez in the 18th minute. In the 29th minute Atleti was awarded a penalty when goalkeeper Celeste Espino muffed a shot and took down Emily González. Rebeca Villuendas stepped up and took the shot but Espino guessed right and smacked the ball out of danger. Michelle González doubled the lead in the 43rd with the touch on a free kick to knock it past Jiménez and into the back of the net. Licha Cervantes got her first goal of the season in the 48th when a defensive error kept her onside and alone. Another defensive error in the 66th allowed Joseline Montoya a free header in the box to take the lead to 4-0. Michelle González got her brace in the 86th on a header off of a corner kick to complete the rout.

FC Juárez 0, Cruz Azul 1: A physical battle that saw both teams battle hard, but ultimately it was Brenda León’s wonderful chip in the 81st minute secured the win for Cruz Azul. Both teams have a lot to take away from this match, both positive and negative and it will be interesting to see how Tity González and Carlos Pérez adjust going forward.

Notes and other things:

A lot happened during the offseason and I won’t even attempt to catch you up on everything that happened. The big things for me was the México National Team playing friendlies and keeping some of the players mentioned here active during the offseason. It was also cool to see some of the teams playing friendlies during the preseason, like América playing games in Texas against semi-pro teams. While I’ll freely admit to being a sucker for collaborations that transcend borders, these games bring exposure to host clubs and give fans of the guest clubs a place to enjoy a match where they might not have been able to do so otherwise.

The Olympics kicked off this week, and as much as I would have liked to see México in it, it’s nice not having to wake up at crazy o’clock in the morning for games.

Next week (all records are in W-D-L format, all times as listed):

Friday, July 23:

América (1-0-0) vs. Puebla FC (1-0-0) - 5:00 PM - TUDN (Mexico)

Mazatlán FC (0-0-1) vs. Santos Laguna (0-0-1) - 8:00 PM - TVP (Mexico)

Saturday, July 24:

Atlas (1-0-0) vs. Gallos Blancos de Querétaro (0-1-0) - 12:00 PM - TVC Deportes (Mexico)

Cruz Azul (1-0-0) vs. Guadalajara (1-0-0) - 12:00 PM - TUDN (United States and Mexico)

Sunday, July 25:

Monterrey (0-1-0) vs. FC Juárez (0-0-1) - 10:30 AM

Club Atlético de San Luis (0-0-1) vs. UNAM Pumas (0-1-0) - 5:00 PM

Monday, July 26:

Necaxa (0-1-0) vs. Pachuca (0-1-0) - 5:00 PM - TUDN (Mexico)

León (0-0-1) vs. Tigres UANL (1-0-0) - 7:00 PM - FOX Sports (Mexico)

Club Tijuana (0-1-0) vs. Toluca (0-0-1) - 9:00 PM - FOX Sports (Mexico)