With the much-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics now less than a month away, the U.S. Women’s National Team will take on Mexico in the 2021 WNT Send-Off Series, Presented by Visa in its final preparations before leaving for Japan. The USA and El Tri Femenil will face off twice in the span of five days, playing a pair of matches at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The teams will square off on July 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET (official kickoff at 7:38 p.m. ET) with broadcast coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET on FS1. The match will also be broadcast on TUDN with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. The sides will play again on July 5 at 5 p.m. ET (official kickoff at 5:08 p.m. ET), with broadcast coverage on ESPN, TUDN.com and the TUDN app.
Here are Five Things to Know about Mexico.
MEXICO, USA MEETING IN SEND-OFF SERIES, PRES. BY VISA
Mexico head coach Monica Vergara has called in 21 players for the two-game set against the USA in Hartford, which marks the first meeting between the teams since the semifinals of the 2020 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Captain Stephany Mayor is the most-capped player in the side and the 29-year-old is also the top scorer on the roster. Mayor is one of 15 players on the roster who plays their club soccer in Liga MX Femenil, the top-flight in Mexican women’s soccer. Eight players, including Mayor, play for reigning champions Tigres UNAL, while two currently play in the United States in the NWSL, with Karina Rodriguez playing for the Washington Spirit and Jimena Lopez for OL Reign. Additionally, Maria Sanchez recently finished a short-term loan with the Houston Dash.
MEXICO WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Emily Alvarado (Texas Christian, USA), 12- Itzel González (Tijuana)
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Bianca Sierra (Tigres), 3-Karina Rodríguez (Washington Spirit, USA), 4-Jocelyn Orejel (América), 5-Jimena López (OL Reign, USA), 13-Reyna Reyes (University of Alabama, USA), 14-Cristina Ferral (Tigres), 15-Nicole Soto (Arizona State, USA)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 6-Rebeca Bernal (Monterrey), 7- Daniela Espinosa (América), 8-Belén Cruz (Tigres), 11-María Sánchez (Tigres), 16-Nancy Antonio (Tigres), 17-Lizbeth Ovalle (Tigres), 18-Dania Pérez (Monterrey), 21-Diana García (Monterrey)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Kiana Palacios (Real Sociedad, ESP), 10-Sandra Mayor (Tigres), 19-Katty Martínez (Tigres), 20-AlisnonGonzález (Atlas)
FAMILIAR FOES: HISTORY AGAINST THE USA
The July 1 matchup will be the 40th meeting all-time between the USA and Mexico. The fifth most commonly-played opponent in program history, the USA has won 37 of the previous 39 meetings with Mexico and has just one loss and one draw all-time against its southern neighbors. The USA has won the last 13 head-to-head meetings with Mexico and has outscored La Tri, 56-4, during that run. The USA’s 13-match winning streak against Mexico came after a 2-1 defeat to Mexico in World Cup Qualifying in 2010. The USA went on the qualify for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and is since unbeaten in its last 54 games against Concacaf foes, with 51 wins and three draws since that defeat to Mexico in Cancun.
The most recent matchup between the teams came on February 7, 2020, when the USA punched its ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a 4-0 victory over Mexico in the semifinal of the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Rose Lavelle kicked off the scoring in the fifth minute before a pair of goals from Samantha Mewis in the 14th and 67th minutes and a sublime chip from Christen Press in the 73rd secured the USA a spot in the since-delayed but now fast-approaching games in Tokyo.
All 11 USA starters from that 2020 semifinal meeting against Mexico have been named to the final 18-player roster for the Olympics.
In fact, nine of the ten forwards and midfielders selected for the USWNT 2021 Olympic team have scored against Mexico at least once in their career. First-time Olympian Kristie Mewis is the only midfielder or forward on the roster who has never scored against Mexico, though she did tally an assist in her only previous career cap against La Tri in September of 2013.
MEXICO IN 2021
In January of 2021, Monica Vergara was named the fifth head coach in the history of the Mexico Women’s National Team and became the first woman to lead the program. Vergara, who represented Mexico as a player at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2004 Olympics, previously coached Mexico’s Under-17 and Under-20 Women’s National Teams, highlighted by a runner-up appearance at the 2018 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay.
Vergara’s first official match with Mexico came on February 20, 2021 and ended in victorious fashion with a 3-1 win over Costa Rica in Mexico City. Three days later, the teams played to a scoreless draw.
Mexico traveled to Europe for the April FIFA International Window, drawing Slovakia, 0-0, on April 10 before falling to Spain, 3-0, in an April 13 friendly in Marbella.
The most recent outing for Mexico was a 5-1 defeat to Japan in Utsunomiya on June 13. Forward Alison González, who has been named to this roster, scored Mexico’s lone goal in the 49th minute.
LIGA MX FEMINIL ON THE RISE WITH EYES ON 2023
While the loss to the USA in the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament extended Mexico’s absence from major tournaments to three in a row, Mexico will now turn its focus to qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in which Concacaf will get four automatic berths, plus two spots in the 10-team playoff to determine the final three berths to New Zealand and Australia. Currently the third-ranked team in Concacaf, Mexico previously qualified for the World Cup in 1999, 2011 and 2015, but failed to advance out of its group during the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship, which served as qualification for the 2019 World Cup in France.
Mexico’s qualification hopes for 2023 will be bolstered by the tremendous growth and success of Liga MX Femenil, Mexico’s First Division women’s professional league. Officially launched by the Federación Mexicana de Fútbolin 2017 the league has made significant strides both on the field and in the stands. Fifteen members of this Mexico roster play in the league, with eight competing for four-time overall and current champions Tigres UANL, three for Monterrey, two for Club America, one for current Atlas and one for Xolos de Tijuana.
Tigres defeated Chivas de Guadalajara in this year’s two-leg Guardianes Tournament (named to honor healthcare workers during the pandemic) winning the first leg 2-1 in front of 11,564 in Jalisco and the second leg 5-3 in front of a raucous home crowd of 14,851 fans.
Along with impressive in-person attendance numbers, all Liga MX Femenil matches are now televised, including many in the United States.
While the majority of Mexico’s roster play in Liga MX Femenil, several of the players on this roster are currently competing in the United States.
Goalkeeper Emily Alvarado, who was the youngest plyer to represent Mexico at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, just completed her senior season at TCU, where she tallied eight clean sheets. Reyna Reyes (who hails from Garland, Texas) plays collegiately at Alabama and Nicole Soto (who hails from Long Beach, Calif.) is a defender at Arizona State.
Two players have recently signed with NWSL clubs in former UCLA star Karina Rodriguez, who signed with the Washington Spirit on June 23 and Jimena Lopez, who signed OL Reign on June 24. Before switching to Mexico, Rodriguez played for the USA at the youth level. She played four matches for the USA during Concacaf qualifying for the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and then every minute of three matches at the World Cup tournament in Jordan. She also played in three matches for the USA during Concacaf qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup but was not selected for the final World Cup squad.
Lopez, who played her college soccer at Texas A&M, was selected in the third round (28th overall) of the 2021 NWSL Draft by OL Reign She played briefly in Spain with Primera División club Eibar, before returning to the NWSL on a three-year contract.
Maria Sanchez, who played at Santa Clara University, recently completed a successful short-term loan with the Houston Dash, but will return to Tigres for the start of their new season. She also had a brief stint with the Chicago Red Stars in 2019 after the club drafted her in the second round (15th overall) of the NWSL College Draft.