Angel City beats Tigres Femenil in international friendly

They practice the same sport according to the same rules. But the US-based NWSL teams play a very different game than their sisters in Mexico’s Liga MX Femenil.

“The NWSL is more physical than Liga MX,” said Stefany Ferrer Van Ginkel of Angel City, who has played in both leagues.

“One hundred percent,” agreed former UCLA All-American Mia Fishel, who plays for the four-time Mexican champion Tigers.

“Mexico use their football IQ more, their technical ability because they don’t necessarily have the speed and size of an American player.”

Those differences should have made Wednesday’s Angel City-Tigers exhibition at a half-empty Banc of California stadium — a game that ended in a 1-0 victory for Angel City — a showcase of competing styles. Instead, it was a largely cautious and uncreative affair apart from the performances of Van Ginkel, a Brazilian via Spain, and teammate Jun Endo of Japan, a second-half substitute.

Van Ginkel, whose dribbling upset Tigers defenders all night, played more than twice as many minutes in the first half as she did in Angel’s first 13 NWSL games combined City. But the only score of the night came 10 minutes after leaving the pitch, with a slippery Savannah McCaskill deflecting into a Tyler Lussi cross on the 79.e minute.

For both teams, the match was far more important than the final score.

For Angel City, a freshman NWSL side, a friendly with Mexico’s winningest club offered a chance to test themselves on the pitch while raising their profile.

“As we were building the club, we wanted to challenge them early to play against some amazing teams,” said Julie Uhrman, president and co-founder of the team.

It also made sense for Angel City, which continues to grow its fan base, to bring a Liga MX team to the heart of Southern California, home to an estimated 6 million Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

For the Tigers, who have played seven of the nine league games in Liga MX history, winning four of them, taking on teams from the older, deeper and more established NWSL gives the team – and the league – additional respectability. Tigers played the Houston Dash of the NWSL in 2019 and 2021, splitting both games, and will host Angel City next year in Monterrey.

“I think it shines a light on the Mexican league for players or spectators who may not be watching,” Angel City coach Freya Coombe said of the NWSL-Liga MX friendlies. “It’s a good partnership. This is very important for the growth of the game. I hope this is an opportunity for us to have international club competitions and more formal club competition on the women’s side.

“You have the Champions League in Europe. For us now, that’s the next step.

In some ways, the NWSL can take credit for inspiring the Liga MX Femenil, Mexico’s first foray into a top women’s professional league.

When the NWSL rose from the ashes of the WPS in 2012, it was with the support of the American, Canadian and Mexican soccer federations, which agreed to pay the salaries of its best players who signed with the league. But in 2015, after a season in which no member of the Mexican national team played a minute in the NWSL, the Mexican federation withdrew its support and launched its own league in 2017.

Since then, Canada and USA, led by NWSL players, have combined to win two Olympic medals and a World Cup title, while Mexico have failed to qualify for either. tournaments.

But the Mexican league has grown considerably in its six years, attracting substantial television audiences and frequent crowds of 30,000 or more while attracting foreign players such as Uchenna Kanu from Nigeria, Jenni Hermoso from Spain and Fishel, the first big American name to refuse. an NWSL contract in favor of one in Liga MX.

“I love that Mexico is a leader in this space with the NWSL,” said Tigres coach Carmelina Moscato, who played three years in the American League. “It’s the start of a wonderful relationship. It’s a sign of more to come.

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