Media Misses Out on Liga MX Femenil Debut

The silence from women’s sports supporters was deafening.

A historic moment in women’s sports transpired recently.

In soccer.

If you went to the front soccer pages of the major sports sites in America during the event, you barely saw a mention of it – (ESPN FC excluded).

Not USA Today, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, SB Nation (you have to dig around for it), Sports Illustrated, Vice Sports – nothing, zilch, zippo, nada.

What am I referring too?

Liga MX Femenil

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Last month, I wrote a piece for The Shadow League discussing Major League Soccer’s attempts to combat racism in their sport. In it, I told the story of a mission trip to Mexico 10 years ago.

I described how our group went to a juvenile detention center and mingled with the residents in the large courtyard area. Being the sporty person I am – okay, not so much anymore – I readily joined in a volleyball game and then a soccer game (on concrete).

There is an undercurrent of machismo in the Mexican culture. In some areas it’s loud and pronounced, while in others it’s subtle. This center had a mix of both.

I didn’t care. I just wanted to play.

I played. I got knocked down. I got back up.

And, I proved myself.

They accepted me.

No small feat when you understand the culture. Most of the girls at the center didn’t want to play at all. Why?

Culture.

Culture can be a dictator. How it is, dictates how you will be. Culture in Mexico has often been the men play sports. Women stay at home, raise the children, cook, clean, etc.

It’s just how it is (was) down there. But, not in my Phoenix, Arizona home.

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Youngest child and third daughter of a single mom, sports was a normal thing in my house.

My siblings all played sports. I played sports. My mother loved sports of all kinds. Even in her 80’s, she still loves watching them today.

Whereas most women in sports media gained their love of sports from their fathers, I get mine from my mother. Her mother, from what I know, wasn’t into sports like her. I remember Grandma Margie as a tough firecracker of a woman who knew how to take care of her home while Tata John worked in their field. Whenever we visited, she was always cooking.

It’s a similar scenario for many families across Mexico, so it came as no surprise that many of the girls at the juvenile center didn’t participate in the games.

Fast forward to late 2016.

In December, it was announced that a new women’s league was being formed in Mexico.

Now, this wasn’t just any league. This was a league with the backing (think = $$$$) of the top flight league in men’s fútbol: Liga Bancomer MX. Eight of the 18 men’s teams fielded women’s teams for the inaugural Copa de La Liga MX Femenil tournament.

The teams, including tournament champion Pachúca, will do some touring now and during the summer before actual league play begins with the Apertura this fall.

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The backing of Liga Bancomer MX is key to the success of this league, as will the media coverage of it. That is why I was so interested to see how, if at all, media here in America would cover this tournament. 

ESPN FC covered it. SB Nation (sort of) did, but you have to do some digging to find their stories now. Where were the USA Today, New York Times stories? VICE? Even espnW? Think Progress? 

Unless I missed them, they were nowhere to be found.

Where were all the advocates for women’s sports? Where were all the people who take to Twitter any time someone disparages women’s sports? Where were those who talk about growing the game

Their silence was deafening. 

Was it because this was Mexico and not the United States? If the goal is to “grow the game” or increase opportunities for girls/women to play sports, then efforts need to be focused beyond this country. If the goal is to provide opportunities for women and girls to play sports, why wouldn’t you support a sport in a machismo culture? 

Lack of knowledge is no excuse. If you’re an advocate of women’s sports, you make it your business to know when girls and women are getting new opportunities to play sports. 

I’m not talking to those who aren’t advocates. I’m all for liking and watching the sports you want to watch. Don’t like women’s sports? Don’t watch and don’t blast those who do. Watch what you want. Support the sports you like. 

No, I’m talking to those who say they support women’s sports, yet ignore a prime opportunity for girls and women in our neighbors to the south. 

Make of it what you will. As for me, the hypocrisy doesn’t surprise me. I guess it’s too much to ask them to look past their own filters of knowledge.

 Can’t cross those “borders” now, can they? 

**

EXTRA: To say there were a few that weren’t happy about it….well…let’s just say this would be a good time to learn how to use Google Translate. 

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EWU Rallies for First Win Over Northern Iowa, 34-30

Hello, Old Friend

There are some football games that you can figure out fairly early how they’re going to play out. Then there are games like tonight in Cheney, WA where the Eastern Washington Eagles come from behind to beat the Northern Iowa Panthers, 34-30. 

It didn’t look that way early on for the Eagles. Led by star senior quarterback, Aaron Bailey, the Panthers took an early 10-0 lead after the first quarter. Bailey was the Panthers do-everything guy going 6-10 with 92 yards passing while rushing for 35 yards on 5 carries and 1 touchdown. UNI was 4 of 7 on third downs and 1 of 1 on fourth down in that quarter.

Meanwhile, the Eagles struggled on offense to start the game. Playing without senior All-American and Player of the Year Cooper Kupp, EWU seemed out of sync. Sophomore quarterback Gage Gubrud, in only his third career start, only went 3-7 for 9 yards passing. 

It looked as though Gubrud and the Eagles figured things out a bit early in the second quarter. The Eagles went 80 yards in 8 plays to cut the lead to three. The drive was highlighted by a 30 yard run by senior receiver Shaq Hill that put the ball inside the 20. Hill finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown reception on a Gubrud pass.  

But, the Eagle defense could not contain the Panther offense before halftime. UNI had back-to-back touchdown drives going 65 yards in 4 plays (1:48) in one and 45 yards in 5 plays (2:11) in the other, leading to a 24-7 halftime lead. 

At the half, the Panthers held a 257 to 172 total yard advantage over the Eagles. They were 5 of 10 on third down (EWU = 3 of 9) and 1 of 1 on fourth down (EWU = 0 of 2). UNI was 5 of 10 in the red zone compared to EWU’s 1 of 2. 

Then halftime happened. 

And Antoine Custer happened. 

The freshman running back from Custer, CA took the kickoff at the 7 and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown. It was the first spark that the Eagles needed. 

A quick three-and-out for the Panthers offense and EWU was back in business, down 24-14. But, a Gage Gubrud interception quickly halted that momentum leaving it up to the Eagle defense with Northern Iowa taking over at the EWU 30. 

Whatever the coaches and players said or did at halftime should be bottled up and used in the future because the Eagle defense stymied the Panther offense again. They kept the score close after a missed Matt Easley 43-yard field goal attempt. 

The Eagle offense could not capitalize going three-and-out on their next series. On their next offensive series, Coach Beau Baldwin recognized the need for another spark calling on sophomore quarterback Reilly Hennessey to lead them. “When we’re in a game, just like at any position, when somebody might be struggling or not feeling it, you want to do what’s best for the team,” said Baldwin. “We felt like making a change and doing something a little bit different.”

Aided by a crucial 4th and 1 offside call on UNI, Hennessey and the EWU offense went 65 yards on 7 plays (2:25) to cut the Panther lead to three. Northern Iowa clung to a 24-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The teams would trade scoring drives in the final quarter. EWU took the lead on a 7 play, 52-yard drive (2:55), on a 7 yard Hennessey pass to Stu Stiles. Stiles had the unenviable task of filling in for senior All-American receiver Cooper Kupp. Kupp was injured in last week’s heartbreaking 50-44 overtime loss to FCS #1 North Dakota State.  

After a Northern Iowa field goal made it 28-27, Eastern Washington could not convert on a 46-yard, 12 play drive on their next possession. UNI would take over on downs and drive to the EWU 32. A Matt Easley field goal gave the Panthers the lead, 30-28. 

“When you are in a fight and you’re getting beat up, you either keep getting beat up or you fight back,” Coach Baldwin said after the game. His Eagle team fought back in a big way on their next series.

“Sneaky Beau Baldwin”, as senior linebacker Miquiyah Zamora calls his coach, pulled out a fake field goal play on 4th and 13. Hennessey, the holder, took the snap, rolled right and found a wide open Beau Byus for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 43 seconds left in the game. The two-point conversion failed. 

“We’ve had the in our arsenal for a while,” Baldwin said in his post-game comments. “You pull it out when you think it’s right. Our guys practice it and I trust them and you execute it.” img_5002

UNI would get the ball back one more time with a chance to win, but the EWU defense was having none of that as they forced a fumble to end the game. 

It was the first victory for the Eagles against the Panthers. They came into the game 0-6 against them after last season’s close 38-35 loss in Cedar Falls. All six of Eastern’s previous losses took place in Iowa. This was the first visit to Cheney by Northern Iowa.

The win puts the Eagles at 2-1 for the season as they head to Flagstaff for an important Big Sky showdown with Northern Arizona next Saturday. The Lumberjacks defeated the Eagles in Cheney, 52-30 last season. NAU is on a two-game win streak versus EWU having beaten the Eagles 28-27 thriller in 2014 in Flagstaff. They are coming off a 73-3 win at home over Division II New Mexico Highlands on Saturday. 

For now, however, the Eagles will enjoy this win tonight. Who will be the starting quarterback next weekend? That will have to wait. Whichever guy is taking snaps, Coach Baldwin thinks they’ll be just fine, “When you have three quarterbacks that can win you games, that’s a nice luxury to have.”

A predictably unpredictable luxury. 

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John Saunders: A Legacy of Love and Respect

If we had more people like John Saunders, we wouldn’t have this violence and the hate. John was about one word. Love.

~Dick Vitale

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The news hit sports media, particularly those at ESPN, like a ton of bricks.

One of the most respected and beloved anchors in the business had suddenly died. The cause of death was’t given. There was no need. John Saunders was gone. 

When someone famous dies, people naturally take to social media to share their reactions. Or, in the case of me, I read others’ reactions. Not in some kind of morbid way. But, rather, to understand the person. 

How people react to someone’s death says a lot about the person. What kind of person were they? What did they do for others? Positive stories. Negative stories. Funny stories. Special moments. Are people feeling the loss? Or, is it simply “RIP”. 

I always want to know what makes people tick. Who are they? 

Be present. Love them first and last and through whatever comes in the middle.

~Scott Van Pelt (on Saunders’ parental advice to him)

As I began to read through various tweets, I began to get an understanding of a man I’d never met. Oh sure, I’d see Saunders every week on my tv or streaming device during college football season, but I had no idea who he was. Most of us never will know who the people are on the inside when the lights are off. 

ESPN’ers and non-ESPN’ers spoke of a kind, genuine, helpful soul. Yet, he was a professional. Saunders wasn’t one for big-timing people or pushing his own personal agenda to the masses. He was skillful, according to many. But, there was one word that kept echoing through my mind as I read all of the messages. 

Respect. 

John Saunders was respected by his peers. John Saunders was also respectful of his peers.

And, by all accounts, he was respectful of people in general. 

*

Respect is a lost characteristic today. Far too often in today’s social media world, it’s become about being right and setting people straight when their opinion differs from ours. If they’re wrong, or they tell us we (God forbid) are wrong, it’s our duty, no OUR RIGHT to tell them as much. 

Yes, that is sarcasm. Hard to tell in written word, isn’t it? 

That mindset, however justified in some cases, hinders dialogue. It hinders our ability to not only listen, but evaluate what someone is actually trying to say. Why are they saying what they are saying? What has shaped their thinking? Why do they believe what they believe? Who are they? 

I try to ask myself those questions when I read some of the so-called discourse and conversations that take place on social media. I used to get involved, but it seems (my perspective) that most people don’t want to hear an opposing viewpoint. They don’t want to listen. They simply want to speak. 

And that’s what social media has done. It’s given people a voice. But, somewhere along the way, the voice has become paramount. When that happens, respect is lost. 

 

See, if we don’t have respect for one another, it makes it hard to listen. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are different levels of respect. The kind of respect that I am talking about is respecting the fact that we are all human beings. I may not agree with you, but I am (trying to get to this place consistently where I am) willing to listen to you with respect because you are a human being. 

I (try to) value what you have to say because I value you as a human being. A human life who is just as worthy as me of being heard. No person is too big or small. We all start out the same as a human life, so why should we disrespect each other? 

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That’s my take away from what was said about John Saunders. He had respect for people. It didn’t matter if they were a new intern or a seasoned broadcast veteran, a waitress at a restaurant or a national politician, a college student or a tenured professor – he respected you as a human being.

Saunders made time for you as often as he could. He knew who he was and strived to help you find out who you were too – a key element in this sports media industry we work in. 

All I can say is that there are a lot of people on tv who have their own agenda. They’re in it for themselves. But, his main message last Friday at NABJ, was he wanted and accepted the role of being a mentor.  

~Jemele Hill

Our country, our world is changing at a rapid pace. Some good, some not. Many fret over where we are at and want change now. If we truly want change, it begins and ends with respect. 

Want to help out this generation and the next? Be someone that respects self and others. Be one that respects opposing viewpoints. Be one that respectfully dialogues. Be one that respects human life no matter what. Be one that teaches our children to do the same. 

John Saunders seemed to epitomize one who respected himself and others. His aim was to help build others up and, in turn, help build a better society.When we learn to respect ourselves and others, we are helping to build a better society and world for

Like it or not, we’re all in this together. Let’s work together, despite our differences, to build a better world for us and the next generations. Respect should be the cornerstone of our foundation. 

And when our days are gone from this earth, may the words spoken about us be like those said about John Saunders this past week. 

That we exemplified love and above all else, respect. 

***

CadChica Sports

Seismic Shift in the Sports-Social Media World

WRITER’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo! Voices network on May 23, 2012. The article is no longer available on Yahoo’s network. Reprinted here as the author of original work.

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Seismic Shift in the Sports-Social Media World

A tremor in the sports-social media world took place this week.

Did you feel it?

Most didn’t realize it when it happened. But, the early rumblings of a seismic shift in the Twitter/Sports relationship occurred, unsurprisingly, in the world of NASCAR.

On Friday, Twitter and NASCAR representatives announced a “business” partnership that is the first of its kind between Twitter and a sports league. The early details of this partnership, scheduled to begin next month at the Pocono race on June 10, entails a promoted NASCAR hashtag (#NASCAR) as well as a NASCAR specific page to take the fan-sport interaction to another level.

Currently, Twitter has promoted tweets that occur on users timelines. According to Twitter: “Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. To what extent the “promoted tweets” have been successful or not depends on who you ask. But according to this May 2011 article, Twitter expected ad spending to triple from 2010 to 2011.

So how does this affect Twitter’s new relationship with NASCAR? Can you say: #WINNING?

NASCAR has long been known for being a “fan’s” sport. History shows large attendance numbers at races as well as the driver interaction with fans proved to be beneficial to NASCAR’s growth. Despite the economy cutting into those numbers, NASCAR has been able to evolve and adapt, using social media to do it.

Because their drivers were already accessible to the public, the use of Twitter by NASCAR and their drivers was a natural extension. Highlighting this was Brad Keselowski, earlier this year. During the Daytona 500, there was a fiery crash that Keselowski had opportunity to snap a picture of as it happened in front of him. Using his phone, he tweeted the picture to the world.

Not knowing how this simple act would take off (he gained over 100,000 followers in just a matter of hours), it proved the connection of Twitter and sports beyond just the sport of NASCAR. It was a trending topic online but work offices around the country. The power of NASCAR. The power of Twitter.

Twitter social media shift

Fast forward to Friday. Twitter and NASCAR joining forces. Hashtag promotion. A NASCAR-specific page on Twitter. A page where tweets will be curated (gathered), from media, the fans, drivers, their families and crew centrally located in one place. What are other fans saying about the race? The media? Anything happen before the race fans should know about? Fans will no longer have to search for the hottest topics during the event. Twitter will do it for you.

That is a good thing. Less work for the fan to do, the more likely they’ll be to stay on that page. A captive audience if you will. And in the world of advertising, that’s the best type of audience to have.

If it succeeds, that tremor, that seismic shift…is only the beginning for Twitter and sports. 

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CadChica Sports

Disposable Athletes

WRITER’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo! Voices network on April 27, 2012. The article is no longer available on Yahoo’s network. Reprinted here as the author of original work.

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Disposable Athletes


Discarded tires.

Tires that have been worn, stripped, shredded, ripped, torn in half and dumped in an empty field.

There usefulness has expired. No longer wanted. Sitting in emptiness.

Discarded tire

What becomes of athletes whose usefulness is no longer needed?

When they are battered and bruised. Broken and stripped of talents and gifts that they were created with. Worn out beyond their life span.

Are they discarded like these worn tires? Or are they given the tools needed to succeed beyond their “sports-life span”?

***

I often wonder if high school and college athletes are getting the education they need. Education as in life skills. Life skills for “after” sports.

Invariably, there will always be a post-sports life. What happens then? True, there are those athletes who have the skills to succeed but many don’t. Would we see athletes leave school early for the NBA or NFL, only to find they are no longer wanted or needed like before? Who fills their head with dreams of fame and fortune, yet reality screams ‘THERE IS MORE TO LEARN’?

We call them student-athletes. Athletes on the field or court. Students in traditional classrooms. What do they learn in high school and college? Reading, writing and arithmetic? If one has a learning disability, is he simply passed along so he graduates (high school) to get that scholarship or maintains his eligibility (college), all in the name of bringing glory to the school? The greater the glory….the greater the money that comes in right?

What if the “student-athlete” does not know how to track his money? Open a bank account? Use a debit card? Recognize the psychology (motives) of those around him? Does he know how to use social media effectively? Can he recognize a potentially “bad” situation? Has he surrounded himself with people who will give him truth not just a “yes”? Will he believe the agent that promises him first round draft status, despite his undraftable skills? What about making decisions for the future?

When the lights and cameras fade away, all the athlete has left is his life. Does he know how to make it without the sports, the fame, the fortune, the “yes” people, the lights, the adulation from fans? What then?

Discarded athletes. Discarded tires. 

The Struggle of CONCACAF Women’s Soccer

Another Olympics. Same old, same old.

USA and Canada are the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) representatives headed to Rio for women’s Olympic soccer.

Again.

The two teams advanced as a result of their semi-final victories in Women’s Olympic qualifying matches in Houston on Friday. USA defeated Trinidad & Tobago, 5-0. Canada defeated Costa Rica, 3-1. The two teams square off on Sunday to determine seeding for Rio.

It was an all too familiar scene in women’s CONCACAF soccer. Canada has qualified for the last three Olympic games. They are the reigning bronze medal winner from the 2012 games. The U.S. has qualified for every Olympics since women’s soccer began playing in the Games since 1996. Mexico is the only other CONCACAF team to qualify having done so in 2004.

Costa Rica, with the 2015 NCAA National Player of the Year Raquel Rodriguez, is improving and on the rise. Mexico, under the same manager since 1998 and swirling in dysfunction, is seemingly going backwards. Trinidad & Tobago, although a semi-finalist in Houston, is nowhere near competitive to the top teams in the region. Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and the rest of CONCACAF? Not a chance.

Twitter_ concacaf

 

 

The U.S. is currently ranked #1 in the world according to the most recent FIFA rankings (12/18/15). Canada is #11. The next nearest CONCACAF country is Mexico which sits at #26. Costa Rica comes in at #34. The U.S.’s semi-final opponent, Trinidad & Tobago, made it to the top 50…at #48. 

That is the state of women’s soccer in CONCACAF. The United States, Canada and then everyone else. They are the two countries who have made an investment in women’s soccer. Even then, the U.S. women’s team was paid significantly less for their 2015 World Cup victory ($2 million) compared to 2014 men’s WC winners, Germany ($35 million) The reason is simple, according to FIFA. The men get paid more because they make more money for FIFA.

All well and good until you realize that more countries around the world invest in their men’s teams financially, promotionally and organizationally than they do women’s teams. For some countries, there isn’t enough money to go around.

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In November 2015, Global Finance Magazine released their list of the world’s richest countries. The numbers were determined based on the GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. In other words, how much the average resident of a country is worth. It also involves something called PPP (purchasing power parity).

Taking the list at face value, here is where the eight CONCACAF teams in women’s Olympic qualifying ranked:

  • United States #9
  • Canada #20
  • Trinidad & Tobago #35
  • Mexico #67
  • Costa Rica #78
  • Guatemala #117
  • Guyana #120
  • Puerto Rico (not registered; on bring of default as of June 2015)

What’s the point of economics in this soccer discussion? Without financing and proper infrastructure, the rest of CONCACAF women’s soccer will continue to lag behind the U.S. and Canada. The only way these teams can make strides is if their players play collegiately in the U.S. 

Check the rosters on teams like a Costa Rica or a Mexico and you will see players that played in the states during college. Some argue that the countries themselves should invest more in women’s soccer. That’s all well and good, but without proper financing…and a change in male attitudes…in these countries, women’s sports will get left behind.  

 “I could go on and on in listing the countries that have made little to no strides forward since 40 million Americans saw at least some of the Women’s World Cup final in 1999,” said soccer legend Julie Foudy in July 2015. “And that is the sad truth: 16 years later the women’s game has barely grown outside of a few countries.”

Although Foudy puts most of the blame on FIFA in her article, the key point remains this: the game hasn’t grown for women around the world. Cultural and gender stereotypes in many countries is a legitimate barrier. That, in turn, dictates how much a country will support (spend money on) women playing sports, let alone soccer. 

FIFA can’t change gender and cultural mindsets because those traits exist within FIFA itself. That said, FIFA is holding its 2nd Annual Women’s Football and Leadership Conference on March 7 in Amsterdam. The goal is to promote equality throughout the sport through reform.   

A good start, but how will those reforms translate to cultural change within an individual country?

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Patriotism moves the needle.

When the U.S. defeated Japan in this past summer’s World Cup, the broadcast broke viewership records here in America. While some attributed that to growth and interest in the women’s game, I saw it more patriotism than game-fandom.

American fans love to cheer American athletes and teams. Fans burst with American pride when an American achieves at the highest levels. Every two (previously every four), we celebrate victories in less popular sports like gymnastics or figure skating. We revel in the highs of skiing or track.

Every time the Olympics come around, Americans tune in. Although rating numbers may fluctuate depending on the time zone of the Games, they still are must-see tv for many Americans. All because of patriotism.

Patriotism moves the needle. But, patriotism falls to the wayside when it comes to women’s sports leagues in America. Some argue that until women are in broadcast executive positions, television coverage of women’s sports will be a non-priority. There is some truth to that, but that isn’t the sole reason for the failure of multiple soccer leagues here in the U.S.

NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said this in July 2015, “We’re trying to run it like any other business. Revenues have to grow. Expenses will grow over time, but they’re going to grow in a prudent and sustainable way.”

Prudent decision-making by the league, more pro-women’s sports broadcast executives will help grow the game here in America. It won’t do much to grow the game within countries like Qatar or Turkey where machismo culture reigns. Even in Mexico, the support for the women’s team is more talk than action.

It is 2016. Rio is around the corner. Traditional women’s soccer powers will once again grace the fields of Brazil. The rest of the world can only watch. “For many of the world’s women, playing soccer is a distant dream,” said the Fuller Project’s Xanthe Ackerman and Christina Asquith.

The U.S. and Canada will have Rio dreams of gold, silver and bronze. The rest of CONCACAF teams can only dream. 

Another Olympics. Same old, same old dreams.

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Rio Rolls Away For El Tri Femenil

El Tri Femenil

In a matter of moments, Maribel Domínguez went from elation

to desolation

Domínguez and the rest of the Mexican women’s soccer team saw a dream end tonight. Their 2-1 loss to Costa Rica ended any hopes for the El Tri Femenil making it to Rio this summer. For Domínguez, it could mean the end of her international career.

The 37 year-old from Mexico City had it on her foot. A potential game-tying breakaway for the player nicknamed “Marigol” with moments left in regulation is all Mexico could ask for. Well, all they could ask with the players available. Sitting at home watching the proceedings this past week was perhaps Mexico’s best player: Charlyn Corral.

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Corral was left off the team by longtime coach, Leonardo Cuellar, after Corral was critical of his tenure with Mexico. Cuellar has been at the helm of the Mexican team since 1998. During his time, Mexico has only made it past the group stage once in either the World Cup or Olympics. More often than not, the team has failed to qualify for the respective tournaments. Even in tournaments where his teams have had success (Gold Cup and Pan-Am Games), Mexico was never able to win any of them during his reign.

In the 2015 World Cup, Mexico could only manage a 1-1 draw with Colombia, a 2-1 loss to England and a 5-0 pasting from France. Corral was on that Mexican team that finished last in its group in Canada. Acknowledging Cuellar’s contribution to Mexican women’s soccer, Corral added afterward, “…we need new ideas”.

Corral was left off Mexico’s Pan-Am Games and Olympic qualifying rosters.

She has since retired from national team play…at age 24.

**

Exit Corral and enter Domínguez. Or, re-enter Marigol. A hat trick in the team’s 6-0 opening win against Puerto Rico notwithstanding, Domínguez’ return to El Tri highlights the problem with Cuellar’s tenure. Where are the young goal scorers? Where are the playmakers for Mexico? Where is the growth of the game compared to their neighbors to the north?

In a machismo culture like Mexico, it is a battle for women’s soccer. Promising young women grow their games in colleges and leagues across the United States and/or Europe. Or, they had to play like Domínguez did when she was young. As a boy.

“I tricked them for years,” Domínguez said in a 2005 interview with The Guardian. The youngest of ten, Domínguez, who learned the game from her brothers, would disguise herself with short hair to look like a boy. Eventually she was found out, but not before impressing her fellow players with her skills and estilo.

She helped propel Mexico to their first and only Olympic appearance in 2004. Although Mexico made it to the quarterfinals that year (a 5-0 loss to Brazil), Domínguez was the only Mexican to score in the entire tournament. Still, she was a star.

12 years later, Domínguez is still scoring goals for Mexico. And that is part of the problem says Pamela Del Olmo of Mexican website Talacheros. Del Olmo said on the Mexican Soccer Show, “If you have to rely on a 37 year-old to get you through a tournament, you’re doing something wrong.”

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Once thought to be in the top three of the CONCACAF region, with today’s loss to Las Ticas, Mexico finds themselves dropping down in the pecking order. “Costa Rica has passed us,” said Del Olmo. Former Mexican team player, Pamela Tajonar concurred via Twitter,

Mexico’s women’s team is watching the rest of the region (and world) catch up, and in some cases, surpass them. In its current state, El Tri Femenil is failing. There is no progress forward. No action put into spoken words about growing the game. Cuellar seems to be out of answers. The demand for change or improvement falls on deaf, machismo ears.

What will it take besides cultural change? With no important competitions on the horizon now for El Tri Femenil, what now? Until Mexico places an importance on the women’s national team, they will continue to watch others like Costa Rica roll past them in the region.

Just like Domínguez’ last shot.

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