Head coach Eva Espejo (pictured) has Pachuca off to a great start in the 2017 Liga MX Femenil Apertura. (Photo: Mexsport)
PACHUCA, Mexico – One of the most significant developments in CONCACAF this year has been the creation of the Liga MX Femenil, a 16-team league committed to elevating the women’s game in Mexico.
Prior to the inaugural season’s start, a tournament -- the Copa MX Femenil -- was held in May to aid the clubs’ preparations. Pachuca raced to the title, posting a perfect 3-0-0 record in group play, before lifting the trophy after a 9-1 win over Club Tijuana in the final.
In late July, the 2017 Liga MX Apertura campaign kicked off and the Tuzas (5W-2D-1L) currently sit second in Group 1 with 17 points, three behind table-topping Club America (6-2-0).
Head coach Eva Espejo is happy with the way Pachuca has competed thus far, but knows improvement is a continuous process.
“The team’s performance is very good, although we have not yet reached the objectives and standards that we have set for ourselves,” the 31-year-old told CONCACAF.com. “We have prepared intensely to tackle this competition, knowing that it would be a very close tournament since all the clubs have put in a lot of effort and determination to form competitive rosters.
“We still do not meet all the expectations we have of the squad’s performance, but we train every day to play our best style.”
Through eight rounds of entertaining play, a healthy 222 total goals have been generated. Pachuca has hit the back of the net 23 times, with Berenice Muñoz netting a team-high seven goals.
“It has been a very good level,” said Espejo about the overall quality of play. “Some games are more demanding than others, as is natural. But, generally, as a team, much has been demanded of us in greater specialization in strategies, much more physical conditioning, much more concentration and better decision making in times of pressure.”
Although the Liga MX Femenil is in its early days, Espejo can already spot current and future benefits.
“The league’s creation was necessary to foster the evolution and professionalization of women's football,” she finished. “Before, the players had nothing more than the possibility of practicing the sport at university and amateur levels.
“Today, with the creation of this league, we are looking for greater selection screening, with a view to improving skills and with the possibility that someday they (the players) can live without neglecting their studies. It seems to me a measure that addresses gender equity and gives us the same possibilities of sports development for women and men in football.”
If that can be achieved, the Liga MX Femenil will go a long way toward achieving its purpose.