The Concacaf W Qualification tournament has wrapped up, and México did what was expected of them, advancing to the Concacaf W Championship and giving them a shot at a World Cup berth in 2023. This has long been the goal of the FMF, and it was a good first step.
It’s also been good to see other nations in Concacaf take this tournament seriously. Of course seeing teams on the wrong end of a double-digit loss can be dispiriting, but seeing nations starting to put together a competent women’s program brings a sense of hope that Concacaf will continue to be a world power in women’s soccer, and not solely on the strength of two nations.
1.) México dominated everyone, and it wasn’t particularly close. The final standings in Group A tell a lot of the story, with México going 4-0-0 while scoring 34 goals and allowing none. What isn’t reflected in this base score is México outshooting their opponents by a combined 131-3, with only one of those three shots being a shot on goal. The lone shot on goal was in the 337th minute of play. The only team in the tournament that came close was Haïti, who also went 4-0-0 while scoring 44 and allowing none. This was however padded by a 21-0 blowout of the British Virgin Islands. Haïti outshot their opponents 115-3, also allowing only one shot on goal during the tournament.
México did this with a nucleus of players that mostly have come up through Liga MX Femenil. While some very important players like Emily Alvarado, Myra Delgadillo, and Kenti Robles all play in Europe, they got solid contributions from Liga MX Femenil stars like Katty Martínez and Stephany Mayor. They also capped Diana Ordóñez, the highly touted forward drafted by the North Carolina Courage in this year’s NWSL Draft. Ordóñez was stellar, getting three goals in just 78 minutes of play and giving México another very good option in a position where they’re very deep.
2.) Puerto Rico and Suriname are both emerging powers. I’m not saying they’re the next Canada or even México, but both Puerto Rico and Suriname took massive leaps forward with their women’s programs during this tournament and I sincerely hope they keep investing time and resources into them.
Puerto Rico looked legit at times against México, keeping México frustrated for a good portion of the middle of the match. They’ve got some players with serious potential, including goalkeeper Cristina Roque who I could easily see getting drafted into the NWSL once her career at Florida State University winds down. The sophomore has already won a National Championship with FSU and did about as well as any one player could to help limit the Mexican attack. Puerto Rico has a lot of things going for them, including ease of access to the NCAA system, a large dual national population, and a women’s league system already in place.
Suriname started out wobbly, getting blown out by México 9-0 but by the end of the tournament they had really come into their own, finishing with a 5-0 win over Anguilla, losing to Puerto Rico only by 2-0, and beating Antigua and Barbuda 5-1. This is in part to the squad coming together during the tournament as well as the SVB capping Anne Maria Bhagerath and Naomi Piqué, who play with Excelsior in the Dutch Eredivise as well as former Auburn Tiger Jennifer Beharie and Katoucha Patra with Saestrum in the Netherlands second division. If they can keep identifying dual nationals while simultaneously investing in their domestic women’s league, they could follow a roadmap that México has laid out in their emergence.
3.) The Concacaf W Championships are going to be tough, but fun. The draw to see where México lands will be interesting. They’ll definitely either get their northern neighbors or Canada, as those two nations were given byes for the Qualification round and won’t be drawn together. México also will not play Costa Rica, as both are in Pot 2. That leaves Jamaica or Panama and Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago in their group. The top two teams in each group qualify to the Women’s World Cup as well as the knockout stage of the tournament, while the third place team will get into the inter-confederation playoffs for one of the three remaining World Cup slots.
The expectation should be that México qualifies outright by finishing first or second in their group. They have proven over the past few months that they belong in the conversation with regards to Concacaf, not only in the Qualification tournament but also by getting a win and a draw against Canada in November. And while they also suffered back-to-back 4-0 losses to their northern neighbors in friendlies in July, it was also on foreign soil against a team that hasn’t played in México since World Cup Qualifying in 2010 where they lost 2-1 to México.