by Rey Gallegos
In the Mexican National Team fan lexicon, there exists a derogative term used to describe the numerous friendlies the Federation organizes in the United States — Partidos moleros refers to non-FIFA window friendlies the men’s team plays usually against subpar competitors that benefit the game promoters more than the sporting aspect of the national team.
With the inaugural Mexican Women’s National Team friendlies (MexTour W) coming through Houston, it would be tempting to lob the same accusation. However, for El Tri Femenil, the opposite is true. With the team failing to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup (and the 2024 Olympic tournament, since Concacaf held on qualifying tournament for both), friendlies will be vital in maintaining game rhythm and preparing for the qualifying cycle that begin anew in three years.
Although Mexico has missed out on qualifying for the Women’s World Cup on several occasions and have only qualified for the Olympics once, their performance at the July 2022 Concacaf W Championship can only be described as an utter failure. Not only was the tournament hosted by the Mexican federation, but all games were played in Monterrey, Nuevo León, home of the two most successful Liga MX Femenil clubs and the most rabid women’s soccer fanbases — UANL Tigres and the Rayadas de Monterrey. Not only did the Mexico women fail to earn any points in the group stage (0W-3L-0T), they also failed to score. With a record six Concacaf teams qualifying for Australia/New Zealand 2023, it almost seemed impossible that the team that historically had been the 3rd or 4th best women’s side in Concacaf was not one of the them.
With 11 of the 23 players on the MexTour W roster under the age of 25, it’s clear that Spanish-born, Mexican manager Pedro López is looking to find a young core of players to qualify for the 2027 Women’s World Cup and the 2028 Olympic tournament. Vital to that process will be three Houston Dash players: forward Diana Ordóñez (age 21), midfielder María Sánchez (age 27), and goalkeeper Emily Alvarado (age 24), who was signed by the club last week.
Alvarado will have quite the challenge displacing Dash stalwart, Jane Campbell, with perhaps the upcoming NWSL Challenge Cup games being her first opportunities to start in goal. The 5’ 11” Ordóñez, who set an NWSL record last year for most goals by a rookie, will need to continue putting up 10+ goal seasons, with the help of Dash teammate Maria Sánchez, in order to cement her place in the #9 position.
Just as the MexTour W friendlies in the Unites States will be a part of building for future success, so will the Houston Dash. The local NWSL team will be just as important as Liga MX Femenil powerhouses in Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Mexico City in developing a stronger El Tri roster.
The Dash return to NWSL action this Friday against the Portland Thorns on the road. Alvarado will be eligible to suit up for the first time; Sánchez and Ordóñez both scored in the last league match to lead the Dash to its first victory of the 2023 season. Catch Friday’s game at 9:30 pm CT on Paramount+. Next home game is set for Wednesday, April 19 at Shell Energy Stadium against Kansas City in Houston’s Challenge Cup opener.