The Liga MX Femenil Liguilla is upon us and came with all the excitement you would expect from a Liga MX brand. Though the usual guests made their way to the next round, there is still plenty to think about for those that we had to say goodbye to during these quarterfinals. I break down as best I can my biggest takeaways from these first two legs of the Liguilla.
1. The eliminated teams are showing some positive growth. No shocking results here (mostly). Of the eight teams that made it to the playoffs, it was the top four teams–Monterrey, Tigres, Pachuca and America– that moved on to the semifinals. One could debate that while America had a stronger end to the regular season, Chivas Femenil came out more consistently throughout the entirety of the season and given their 4-2 dominance in their Clasico Nacional back in September, would be the favorites for this match-up even with their fifth place positioning. Perhaps it was the emotional motivation but América woke up at the right time, beating Chivas with an aggregate score of 3-0 and eliminating them from the tournament.
Credit has to be given to Chivas, however. After failing to qualify for the playoffs altogether last season when it was still under group format, their revival as a top team this season with naming Nelly Simon as their Sporting Director and acquiring players like Janelly Farias and molding consistent regulars like Tania Morales and Nicole Perez has made fans and analysts optimistic of what their future holds.
Optimism rings true for the other three teams that were eliminated. Atlas might have finished in the eighth in the standings but they held their own against first place Monterrey who barely scraped by with a 1-0 aggregate win. Even with Pachuca showing clear dominance in the first round of matches with a 4-1 victory, the sixth place Toluca went down swinging, winning the second leg 2-1 and being eliminated by a 5-3 aggregate score. And of course, there was Xolos Femenil who had the signing of the season with Renae Cuellar and made their way to their first Liguilla appearance ever thanks in large part to her twelve goals.
The evolution of the league without its restrictions is bringing forth great promise and while much of the marketing has been done at the grassroots level, the performances on the field are increasing the awareness that much more.
2. Tigres wakes up when they want to. Xolos Femenil’s ability to keep reigning champ Tigres tame at Estadio Caliente was impressive and makes fans of the league hopeful for what to expect from them moving forward… but Tigres did the thing. Whether it is their men’s team or their women’s team, Tigres in the Liguilla is an entirely different animal. Despite being shut down in the first leg, Tigres turned it around in the second leg at home with an aggregate 3-0 victory. They’ll face off against Pachuca in the semifinals, the team they appropriately fought with throughout the season for the second place spot in the standings. Should be an entertaining round between these two.
3. Amèrica quietly making a run for the title. Tigres is hungry for their third and Monterrey has done so much throughout the season at this point it would be disappointing for them to not win the title, but America is making a case for themselves going into the next round of the Liguilla. They did finish higher in the standings against Chivas but their season was full of inconsistencies and drama so to see them dominate Chivas so strongly throughout those two legs was impressive. Losing Diana Gonzalez was a tragic loss and the work ethic the team is making on the field every match and keeping her in their thoughts and the locker room seems to be the factor that is keeping them motivated. They’ll go up against Monterrey who might’ve floundered a bit against Atlas but are incredibly dangerous when they find their rhythm. We’ll see what happens.