Mexico’s soccer story continues this week as the women’s team begins their 10-day camp at the Mexico Football Federations’ center in order to prepare for the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. This is important for the Mexican women’s team as they prepare for the 2015 FIFA Women’s Cup, which will take place in Canada June 6 – July 5, 2015.
They will hold 13 sessions, both morning and evening, as well as play a couple of international matches in Houston. Two friendly matches will be played against Trinidad and Tobago’s women’s team in Aug. at the U.S. Pro club in Houston.
Maribel ‘Marigol’ Domingue, striker, is the eldest and most seasoned player of the 21 invited to camp, and she is considered Mexico’s best female soccer player. Until 2013, she has played in the most games and scored the most goals, at 109 and 75, respectively. She originally played with boys and made headlines when she signed a contract with the Atlètico Celaya, a Division II men’s team out of Guanajuato, Mexico. She was stopped by FIFA from playing.
Two 25 year-olds, Stephany Mayor (forward) and U.S. born Alina Garciamendez (defender) lead the remainder of their squad. Both women played in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Renae Cuellar, another U.S. based player, was a reserve in the last FIFA Women’s World Cup, but has made the squad this year. Mexico is looking to continue its soccer run with a third trip to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Their current training and matches aim to prepare the women for the CONCACAF Women’s Championship from Oct. 16-26, 2014 in the United States. There will be 33 teams involved, including the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and the Union Centro Americano (UNCAF). There will be eight teams competing for four spots. The top two will advance automatically as well as the winner of the third place match. The fourth place team will take on the third place finisher from the CONMEBOL league from South America.
The Mexican women’s team is ranked 24th overall, which is largely because they have had the same coach for 16 years. Leonardo Cuèllar is rare in that he has been with the same team since 1998. He is no stranger to the world stage having been to a World Cup in 1978 and the Olympics in 1972.
He has been a force pushing the team, known as El Tri, to qualify in 1999 and 2011 for the Women’s World Cups. In 2011, to reach the Women’s World Cup Mexico beat the U.S. Women’s team, forcing them into a do or die match with Italy. During the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, they reached the quarterfinals.
Mexico has come a long way. Sixteen years ago there was only one women’s league, and now there are four age groups, including a senior league. Cuèllar worked with the Mexican Football Federation to put these programs together. El Tri has come a long way in a short amount of time continuing Mexico’s soccer traditions. This summer and fall the women’s national soccer team will be working toward their third FIFA Women’s World Cup, a goal that is possible considering the hard work and dedication of the coach and this team of women.
By Sara Kourtsounis