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League restrictions among factors in Mexico women's failure to qualify for World Cup





Mexico's elimination from the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup will generate a list of potential guilty parties when it comes to playing the blame game. But it was a combination of factors -- some preventable -- that destined the team to failure.

Structure stays the same

Roberto Medina took over early in 2017 following Leonardo Cuellar's resignation and was a product of the same organizational structure, having coached the U-20 squad. His arrival was more of a consequence than a designation, which was never made official.

Despite the change in managers, a restructuring of the organization didn't happen, not even to address the glaring priority: correcting the failure to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

The lack of established women's football in CONCACAF, save for world powers Canada and the U.S., only serves to underscore El Tri's developmental mistakes.

Even still, it's worth remembering that this generation is still made up of players who didn't have a domestic league to call home yet who nevertheless earned caps.

Charlyn Corral, Bianca Sierra and Cecilia Santiago are just a few examples of players who sought to start their careers in the U.S., and later in Europe. The dream of a league in Mexico wasn't close to becoming a possibility then.

League out of their ... league

Oddly, only a handful of the players have a shot at the domestic league, as much because of age limits (only four players can be over 24) as for the restrictions on using Mexican-Americans.

That means Mexico players such as Bianca Henninger, Bianca Serra, Kaitlyn Johnson, Monica Flores, Kiana Palacios can't be on the domestic league of the country for which they claim citizenship.

The Women's Liga MX was created to strengthen the national teams, but the senior squad was left out of a big chunk of that effort precisely because of the difficulty in achieving the unity needed. That's not the case with the U-20 team, which is slowly gaining a strong reputation.

Other factors

Efforts made to better prepare the women's side have improved, but not with the urgency needed to achieve consistency.

Before qualifying, Mexico had a pair of tough friendlies -- against France and Paris Saint-Germain. It also faced the U.S. twice (losses by 4-1 and 6-2) before the Central American and Caribbean Games, where they would win the gold medal.

The level of these opponents is in stark contrast to that of those faced during a March trip to Turkey: Latvia, Jordan and Poland.

The lack of sponsors also has been an issue that has affected players such as Corral who haven't received much aid despite their accomplishments.

Window closing?

The failure to qualify for France 2019 means that several of Mexico's players must wait until 2023 (that event awaits a host) for a new opportunity to participate in a World Cup.

The majority of the current roster will be at or above 30 years of age, so it's likely that the generation that played in the U-20 World Cup this year will be the one that will be handed the baton.


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