The U.S. Women’s National Team will kick off the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship on Oct. 4 against Mexico at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park (7:30 p.m. ET on FS2 and UDN). The U.S. team is coming off two dominant wins against South American World Cup qualifier Chile (3-0 on Aug. 31 and 4-0 on Sept. 4) and heads into the tournament with an 11-0-2 record in 2018.The USA has not lost since the 2017 Tournament of Nations, a 1-0 setback to Australia, and has gone 18-0-3 over the past 14 months.
Here are five things to know about the USA’s first Group A opponent:
MEXICO WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Cecilia Santiago (América), 12-Bianca Henninger (Houston Dash, USA)
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Kenti Robles (Atlético de Madrid, Spain), 3-Christina Murillo (Chicago Red Stars, USA), 4-Bianca Sierra (Thór / KA, Iceland), 5-Mónica Flores (Valencia FC, Spain), 13-Rebeca Bernal (Monterrey), 14-Arianna Romero (Valur Reykjavik, Iceland)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 6-Nancy Antonio (Tigres de la U.A.N.L.), 7-Nayeli Rangel (Tigres de la U.A.N.L.), 8-Karla Nieto (Pachuca), 10-Stephany Mayor (Thór / KA, Iceland), 11-Mónica Ocampo (Pachuca), 16-Cristina Ferral (Tigres de la U.A.N.L.), 17-María Sánchez (Santa Clara University, USA), 20-Jacqueline Ovalle (Tigres de la U.A.N.L.)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Charlyn Corral (Levante UD, Spain), 15-Ariana Calderón (Thór / KA), 18-Kiana Palacios (Real Sociedad, Spain), 19-Kaitlyn Johnson (Sky Blue FC, USA)
The USA and Mexico have met on 36 occasions, with the most recent coming April 8, 2018 during a friendly match – a 6-2 U.S. win – in Houston, Texas. The U.S. Women lead the all-time series against Mexico with a 34-1-1 record.
The USA and Mexico have played each other in every World Cup qualifying tournament, most recently on Oct. 24, 2014 in Chester, Pennsylvania, a 3-0 USA win in the semifinal, which secured the USA’s spot in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
MEXICO AND ITS U.S. TIES
Over the years, Mexico has featured numerous players who have connections to the USA. On this roster, nine players are Mexican-Americans and one currently plays college soccer in the USA in Santa Clara University’s Maria Sanchez, who is from Idaho.Kiana Palacios hails from Lake Forest, Calif. and played at UC Irvine and while Monica Flores, who is from New Jersey, played at Notre Dame with her twin sister Sabrina, who played for the USA in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Goalkeeper Bianca Henninger, who before changing associations was the U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year in 2010 after an excellent performance as the starter for the USA in the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (Jill Ellis was the head coach), is the back-up goalkeeper for the Houston Dash. Defender Christina Murillo, who played collegiately at Michigan, played this past season for the Chicago Red Stars reserves.Katie Johnson plays for Sky Blue FC. Johnson, an USC alum and NCAA championship winner, is Mexico’s top forward.
Mexico and Sky Blue FC's Katie Johnson.
LIGA MX FEMENIL
On July 2017, Mexico kicked off the inaugural season of their new women’s professional league, Liga MX Femenil, the highest division of women’s soccer in Mexico. Overseen by the FMF (Federación Mexicana de Fútbol), it is made up by teams from 16 out of the 18 Liga MX teams (only Puebla and Chiapas don’t have a team in the women’s league). The goal behind the creation of the league was to nurture and build on the future of the Mexico women’s soccer and the Mexico Women’s National Team.
The champion of the inaugural season was Guadalajara which defeated Pachuca 3-2 on aggregate in the Apertura 2017 Final in November 2017.The two matches drew record crowds of 28,955 and 32,466 fans, a huge success for the debut season of the league.
MEDINA LEADS TRICOLORES
After coaching Mexico’s U-20 squad to the quarterfinals of the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, Robert Medina assumed the role of head coach for the senior side in 2017, bringing a new perspective following the departure of longtime head coach Leonardo Cuellar who stepped down in April 5, 2016, after 18 years of leading the women’s team.
“For me, it’s always a great honor to represent my country,” Medina had said. “It’s a big responsibility and every time we step on the field, we’ll do it in the most dignified manner, worthy to represent these colors.”
Born on April 18, 1968 in Mexico City, Medina played in Mexico’s First Division for several clubs. He also won the Gold Cup playing for Mexico in 1998.
Mexico played the USA twice in April of this year, falling 4-1 and 6-2. Katie Johnson scored in the first game while Mónica Ocampo and Kiana Palacios scored in the second. Mexico had a successful run at the Turkish Women’s Cup 2018 in March where it beat Latvia (5-0), Jordan (5-1) and Poland (1-0) in group play before falling 2-1 to the France “B” WNT in the final. Ocampo scored Mexico’s goal.
Mexico won the Barranquilla 2018 Women’s Football Tournament in July in Colombia. In group play, Mexico defeated Trinidad & Tobago on goals from Ocampo (2) Charlyn Corral, Johnson and Kenti Robles, and Nicaragua 4-0 on goals from Maria Sanchez, Johnson, Corral and Desirée Monsiváis. In the semifinal, Mexico defeated Venezuela 3-1 on goals from Ocampo, Sanchez and Yamile Franco, and then fell behind Costa Rica in the championship game before rallying to win 3-1 on goals from Corral, Robles and Johnson.
Most recently, Mexico played France in Amiens, France and fell 4-0 in early September. In 2017, Mexico lost some close games to some top teams, falling to Canada (3-2), Sweden (1-0), China (3-2) and North Korea (1-0).
Charlyn Corral scored for Mexico against Venezuela in 2017.