Despite still being in the group stage of the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship, the United States Women’s National Team has qualified for the knockout rounds and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Vlatko Andonovski’s side opened the tournament with victories over Haiti and Jamaica, as the young roster gains momentum with experience. Next on the schedule is Mexico at the Estadio Universitario in San Nicolás de los Garza. Already eliminated from the competition, the hosts need a win and some help to reach the inter-confederation playoffs.
This is the 42nd all-time meeting between the two nations, with the USWNT holding a 39-1-1 advantage and claiming the last meeting in July of 2021 by a 4-0 margin. Mexico reached the CONCACAF Championship by finishing atop Group A (Puerto Rico, Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla) in qualifying with a perfect 4-0-0 record, scoring 34 goals and surrendering none. El Tri played two pre-tournament friendlies against Peru, winning 5-1 and 3-0, and opened the competition with losses to Jamaica and Haiti.
Mexico is led by Mónica Vergara, who was promoted to the position in January of 2021 after several years with the program as an assistant and youth coach. The former midfielder retired from the professional game at 28 years old. She is attempting to lead El Tri to a fourth World Cup and second Olympic Games.
The manager is urging patience despite the recent setbacks. “I want to tell you that absolutely nothing happens,” Vergara expressed after the loss to Haiti. “It’s [a] part of a development-learning process and you have to face these situations. I don’t know any world champion who hasn’t gone through this type of situation… Everything worthwhile takes time. It is not built overnight.”
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Vamos por el al Mundial, Juegos Olímpicos y la primera Copa Oro. ♀️
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Vergara named a 23-player squad for the tournament, a mix of call-ups from Liga MX, the United States, and Europe. Notable names such as Cecilia Santiago, Karina Rodríguez, Janelly Farías, Jocelyn Orejel, and Renae Cuéllar were left off the roster. Following the initial release, goalkeeper Alejandría Godínez was replaced by Melany Villeda.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Melany Villeda (Pumas UNAM), Emily Alvarado (Stade de Reims), Itzel Gonzélez (América)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Alexia Delgado (Arizona State University), Carolina Jaramillo (Guadalajara), Casandra Montero (Guadalajara), Diana García (Monterrey), Nancy Antonio (Tigres), Stephany Mayor (Tigres), Maricarmen Reyes (University of California Los Angeles)
FORWARDS (7): María Sánchez (Houston Dash), Jacqueline Ovalle (Tigres), Katty Martínez (América), Joseline Montoya (Guadalajara), Alicia Cervantes (Guadalajara), Diana Ordoñez (North Carolina Courage), Myra Delgadillo (Unattached)
Vergara has used a variety of loose formations but could deploy a 4-4-2 to best fit her personnel. Mexico plays a “possession-oriented game,” bringing the ball out of the back with “a lot of short passes,” but settles for too many long-distance shots. Opponents have surpassed the defense with surprising ease, usually requiring a single through ball to break on goal. In the first two matches, El Tri surrendered multiple penalties, while set pieces also remain a constant issue.
Vergara has alternated between Emily Alvarado and Itzel González, appearing to have settled on the former as the number one for this tournament. Born in El Paso, the 24-year-old enjoyed four seasons at Texas Christian University, spending her entire amateur career racking up accolades from All-American honors to being named Big 12 Goalkeeper of the Year and winning Golden Gloves at the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship. Now with Stade de Reims, she made 22 appearances this season in Division 1 Féminine. The USWNT may struggle to score on the all-around talent with excellent propulsion, the composure to tip away point-blank shots, and clear passing vision.
Rebeca Bernal has emerged as the first-choice center back for Mexico. The 24-year-old Monterrey defender has scored 30 goals at the club level, including from the combination of taker and recipient on set pieces. With Greta Espinoza being sent off against Haiti, the likely partner is Casandra Montero of Chivas Guadalajara, who debuted with the national team this year after leading a revival at the club level. The former rugby player fills the stat sheet with reliable passing, forced turnovers, and successful aerial duels.
Hard-challenging right back Kenti Robles stars for Real Madrid. The 31-year-old pushes high up the field and is constantly pinging crosses into the box. The other side of the formation could feature American-born Bianca Sierra of Tigres or OL Reign’s Jimena López. The latter is another attack-minded player who is unafraid to shoot from distance.
A “dangerous” center midfielder, Alexia Delgado currently plays for Arizona State University. She is described as “technically excellent,” playing an “incredible soccer game” with regard to “movements” and organization. Veteran Stephany Mayor lines up in an attacking midfielder or second-striker role, a prolific goal-scorer at the club level. Highly acrobatic and technical, her maneuverings can be difficult to track, whether slaloming past defenders or sprinting onto long balls.
Attacker Myra Delgadillo recently finished a successful two-season stint with Braga in Portugal, winning the league cup. The 26-year-old Californian is a dogged, powerful runner with the tendency to drift toward the center of the field. Winger María Sánchez competes with the Houston Dash, joining the club after a stint with Tigres. She is naturally drawn to the ball, often finding herself in the right position to convert or steer home a rebound.
América’s Katty Martínez is an absolute menace at the club level with 90 goals in 109 appearances. When stepping out of a poacher role, the 24-year-old buzzes around the outside of the box waiting to unleash shots with her cultured left foot. She should partner with Diana Ordoñez, who is primed for a decade of stardom atop Mexico’s formation. The former American youth international was selected by the North Carolina Courage with the sixth pick in the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League Draft following three productive seasons at the University of Virginia. The agile 5’11” attacker is a natural handful in the air and displays deceptive pace, knowing when and where to maneuver around opponents.
Reeling from two poor performances, Mexico is in a terrible spot and requires three points to even have a chance of qualifying for the inter-confederation playoffs. A match against the historically dominant USWNT is far from an advantageous opportunity, presenting an uphill climb for even the world’s strongest teams. El Tri will come out with a lot of fight but needs to score early, lest the energy drain and despair begin to permeate.
The match is scheduled for Monday, July 11th at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 pm Pacific. Viewing options include CBS Sports Network, Paramount+, ViX, and FUBO TV (free trial).