As we’re about halfway through the first full season of Liga MX Femenil allowing non-Mexican players (extranjeras) into the league, I thought it would be good to take a look at the numbers to see what kind of impact they were having. In Liga MX Femenil, each team can sign two extranjeros. For comparison in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States, each of the ten teams is allowed four international roster spots per team for a total of 40 this season. Critically, NWSL teams can trade these slots for players, cash, or other assets, where Liga MX Femenil teams cannot.
Out of the 495 total players registered with the league, only 15 players (or 3%) have a nationality listed as something besides Mexican. Of course this is a bit of a gray area, since 52 players were born outside of Mexico, however 38 of those count as Mexican. This includes players like Monique Burgess (Belize), Linda Frías (El Salvador), Delfina Santellán (Argentina), and Valentina Oviedo (Colombia) who are listed as Mexican but are eligible to represent other countries as well as players like Jocelyn Orejel, Lucy Lara, Miah Zuazua, and others who were born in the United States but qualify as being Mexican.
Aside from players born in Mexico and the United States, the league has players from Spain (Marta Peranau and Bea Parra on San Luis), Brazil (Veronica Martins of Puebla and Stefany Ferrer of Tigres), Venezuela (Paola Villamizar of Tijuana), Costa Rica (Cruz Azul’s Michelle Montero and Rayadas’ Valeria Del Campo), Colombia (Querétaro’s Vanessa Córdoba), Trinidad and Tobago (Victoria Swift of León), Panamá (Marta Cox of León), and Argentina (Linda Bravo of Pachuca) listed. And from the United States without Mexican passports are Sarah Luebbert and Stephanie Ribeiro of Club América, Angelina Hix of Tijuana, and Julianna Pacheco of Santos. Ribeiro also is eligible to play for Brazil and Portugal through her father and mother respectively.
Of course it’s far too early to tell, and the window for clubs to sign players doesn’t close until September 22. The players that have come in however have largely been good additions to their teams. There are tradeoffs though for sure. The league was founded to give Mexican players an opportunity to play the game at a professional level, and of course when a player not from Mexico plays those are minutes that a Mexican player isn’t getting. But consider that as of this writing, extranjeras have on average played just 50% of all possible minutes for games they’ve made an appearance in, and averaged just 30.5% of all available minutes for the eight games this season. Only goalkeeper Córdoba has played all 720 of those minutes, and Del Campo has yet to make her debut.
Regardless of what passport they hold, players constantly push one another to play better and elevate their game to earn minutes. While Córdoba has played every minute in goal for Querétaro this season, Ruth Arana is still with the team from last season, and is competing with Córdoba weekly for the starting job. On the other end of the spectrum, Del Campo will need to move past Rebeca Bernal and Mariana Cadena for a starting center back job with Rayadas.
Of course these signings will need to be given time to fully acclimate to living and playing in Mexico, and there could be more before the transfer window shuts later this month. At this point in time however while they’ve made an impact on some level, it seems their inclusion into the league hasn’t brought about radical changes or shifts in play and has been a welcome addition overall.