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The impact of Jenni Hermoso and Andrea Pereira in Liga MX Femenil

While Jenni Hermoso has already played three games for Pachuca, América surprised everybody with the signing of another former Barcelona player, Andrea Pereira.

Jenni Hermoso in her debut against Querétaro
Jenni Hermoso in her debut against Querétaro

Pachuca started this season as one of the main candidates to win the ‘Liguilla’. The big expectations were justified after ‘Tuzas’ reached the final of the Grita Mexico Tournament Clausura 2022. Pachuca also had one of the top goalscorers of the league last season in Charlyn Corral, and the team seemed to have regained that spark that drove them all the way to the big final in 2017. The expectations grew even more after the signings of the Panamanian Marta Cox and, of course, the 2021 Silver Ball winner, Jennifer Hermoso.

The signing of the Spaniard by Pachuca was the big bomb of the off-season and it got the attention of the main sports newspapers and TV sports shows in Mexico. And no wonder, since she’s the most important player any club has signed in the entire history – men or women – of Mexican club football. No other foreign player went to play in that country having won what Hermoso has.

What is more, the fact that it was Tuzas who signed her and not Tigres, Rayadas, or even América, made the news even bigger. That is so because everybody in Mexico expects a lot from those three clubs when it comes to signings and not so much from other teams. By signing Jenni, Pachuca made a big statement. And although it’s true they started to reveal their intent when they brought Charlyn Corral back in 2021, bringing the winner of last year’s Silver Ball showed they want a seat at the adult’s table.

The Mexican league hasn’t stopped growing since its inception and even smaller clubs are investing in their women’s teams now. It’s a fun league to watch where we can find very talented players with very interesting stories and where more and more foreign players are setting their eyes on, searching for a new destination. Those pioneers, the foreign players who went there first in past seasons, have led the way for others to go play in Mexico.

Take for example Argentinian Ruth “La Chule” Bravo. She signed for Pachuca one year ago but started this season playing for León. The thing is, she didn’t arrive alone to her new team; she brought two more Argentinians with her; Romina Núñez and Mariana Larroquette. All three of them play for their national team and have given “La Fiera” a whole new look.

The Mexican women’s national team was supposed to showcase the quality there is in the league, but after the big failure at the Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifiers, it seems everything this league has achieved in such a short amount of time was just a mirage. Suddenly, many who started to watch the league recently and placed Mexico as one of the main candidates to win the tournament – or at least finish among the top three – were disappointed and started to look to other leagues thinking it was all a big hoax.

Nonetheless, those watching Liga MX Femenil for years – before it was cool, you might say – know it’s a good league that has lots of talent. Historians will look back decades from now and analyze all the factors that went wrong with the women’s national team, but for now, those who have been watching it consistently will have to be content knowing that, even if the rest of the world doesn’t realize it. And players like Hermoso are proof that the league is no hoax.

Almost two weeks ago, América surprised everybody with the signing of Spanish national team defender and former Barcelona player, Andrea Pereira. The 28 year-old veteran comes into the league with an interesting resume, after winning everything in Spain and Europe.

So, where do players like Jenni Hermoso and Andrea Pereira fit into this picture? Well, their clubs signed them of course, so they can help them win championships. América and Pachuca have been increasing their investment with every passing year now. Rayadas and Tigres are not the only two teams that big players are looking to sign for anymore. The league keeps growing even though many are neglecting that fact and the signing of these big names is proof of that.

Pachuca or América may or may not win the Liguilla this season, but the impact these players will have, on and off the pitch, will be deep and lasting. On the night Jenni Hermoso made her debut, many fans in Europe and all over the world stayed up late to watch that match, even though they didn’t know if the coach was going to put her in. And they were rewarded in the 70th minute when she came on for Marlyn Campa.

That night, Pachuca thrashed Querétaro 4-1 but after that game, they played Tigres and the result was not good. The Felinas won by 3-1 and Hermoso entered the match in the second half when they scored their only goal of the night. What’s next for Pachuca? They play the mighty Rayadas in Week 10 and they need to win if they want to put themselves in the race to get into the playoffs since they’re in position 7 right now.

Knowing this, we can say that the chemistry Hermoso shows with her teammates will be crucial. She hasn’t scored yet but she already has two assists, both registered in the Atlético de San Luis (Week 9) match. So she’s already making an impact and it’s only a matter of time for her to score her first goal.

América has already played this week and beat Cruz Azul 3-0, but Andrea Pereira wasn’t registered yet, so they couldn’t use her. That changed this week so we hope to see her at least for some minutes in the next game against Tijuana. The Águilas have improved a lot this season since Itzel Gonzalez (keeper) is in goal. Scarlett Camberos has been on fire, scoring lots of goals and Aurélie Kaci has given stability to the midfield, but they’re still in dire need of reinforcing the defense. That’s where Pereira comes in. With her experience, she will be able to command the backline and make América less prone to errors, something they really need.

Speaking of defense, Pachuca needs to work hard on their backline too. So far, they have 17 goals against (13 more than Guadalajara, the top team in the current tournament, and 7 less than Mazatlán, the team with the most goals against). As many goals as Jenni Hermoso and the rest of the team can score, they’ll get nowhere if they’re not reliable on defense.

As Week 9 is being played, we have already reached the middle of the season. It’s time for both clubs to capitalize on their big signings and show they can be the teams to beat. If both at least qualify for Liguilla, the league will gain even more attention. People will want to see if the former Barcelonians can win silverware in their first season in Mexico.