Expat’s Guide to the Mexican Soccer League
Mexican Soccer League – Introduction:
If you’re new to Mexico, it can be difficult getting an understanding of football soccer in Mexico. Called “fútbol” in Spanish, the Mexican League is one of the most culturally defining aspects of Mexico. You can attempt to live your life without the Mexican Soccer League, though you will be missing out on a lot of the experience of watching the games with friends and family. Therefore, WeExpats thought that we would make a short guide for expats who want to learn about the Mexican Soccer League.
Mexican Soccer League – Facts About the Mexican Soccer League:
Though many soccer fans can be heard discussing the low caliber of the Mexican Soccer League, it is actually considered the highest quality league in North America—though admittedly, the American league is growing in quality as well. The Mexican Soccer League ranks 20th in the world today, and it has been steadily growing.
The average attendance draws the largest crowds of any country in the Americas. It even has the 3rd largest crowds of any sports league in North America (behind the NFL and the MLB). It is the 4th most-attended league of any soccer league in the world.
Mexican Soccer League – History of the Mexican Soccer League:
Football-Soccer is Mexico’s number one sport, and as you might have learned in our article on the lasting influence of Cornish immigrants to Mexico, it all began in Pachuca. British immigrants brought the sport over when they arrived to work the mines. The sport seems to have stuck more than rugby and cricket—which they also brought over.
The first Mexican Soccer League was called la Liga Mexicana de Fútbol Amateur Association (however it was known colloquially as Primera Fuerza) and it was formed in 1902, consisting of 5 teams:
- Orizaba A.C.
- Pachuca A.C.
- Reforma A.C.
- Mexico Cricket Club
- British Club
Many of these athletic clubs were fusions with the local cricket clubs, rugby clubs, and football clubs. Three were from Mexico City (Reforma, Mexico, and British), and the other two were from the surrounding areas—thus the league was very small. That first year, Orizaba A.C. was won the championship.
The only team to still play in the top division is Pachuca A.C., though now its name has changed to Pachuca C.F.
*In 1906, the first team was added from Guadalajara.
Eventually, other regional leagues would develop, such as la Liga Veracruzana, la Liga del Bajío, and la Liga Occidental. In 1919, the Tigres were kicked out of the Mexican Soccer League, and in solidarity with their expulsion, the clubs España and España de Veracruz also left forming their own league called la Liga Nacional.
La Liga Nacional included teams like:
- Amicale Française
- Luz y Fuerza
La Liga Mexicana included teams like:
- Deportivo Internacional
On August 23rd, 1922, negotiations would successfully take place uniting all the splintered leagues into one large league in hopes of applying to the new FIFA organization. This league would start off being called la Federación de Foot-ball Asociación, then the following year it would be called La Federación Central de Futbol.
By the 26th of July, 1927, it would enter its final incarnation la Federación Mexicana de Futbol, which is the league that exists today.
Mexican Soccer League – General Format of the Mexican Soccer League:
– Divisions in the Mexican Soccer League –
For the purposes of this article, when we refer to the Mexican Soccer League, we will mostly be referring to Liga MX (Primera Division). This is the top-tier division in Mexican soccer. However, there are four divisions.
Every year, the worst team from each league descends to the second division (this league called El Ascenso MX), and then the best team from the second division ascends to la Liga MX. The process is a bit more complicated than that, but that will suffice for the purposes of this article. Last year, a second division team won the right to ascend to first division, though their stadium was not equipped to handle first division traffic. Thus the process is rather complicated and bureaucratic in actuality.
– Regular Season in the Mexican Soccer League –
Each year, the Mexican soccer league is divided into two separate tournaments: the Clausura (which runs from January through May) and the Apertura (which runs from July through December). All 18 clubs in the Mexican Soccer League face off once in the regular season.
*Note: The hope is to expand the league to 20 teams by 2020, unfortunately, it is not entirely clear how that is going to happen.
– Playoffs in the Mexican Soccer League –
The top 8 teams with the best record face off in la Liguilla (which is the name for the playoffs of the Mexican Soccer League). The team with the best record (known as the number 1 seed) faces against the team with the worst record (or the number 8 seed). The number 2 seed faces the number 7 seed. . . and so forth. Each team plays twice (once at home, and once away).
In the quarterfinal and semifinal stages, the highest teams ranked that are still around are pitted against the lowest-ranked teams left and the process continues.
*If there are ties, then away goals are used as the first tiebreaker, and the higher seeded team is the second tiebreaker.
*In the final, there are no tiebreakers. Instead, it moves on to extra time periods and finally penalty kicks if required.
Mexican Soccer League – Is the Mexican Soccer League Really Mexican?
There are rules in place to ensure that the Mexican Soccer League promotes Mexican talent. For example, each team is allowed to have 9 foreigners on their gameday roster, however, they must also have 9 Mexican nationals.
Furthermore, young players must be given a certain amount of playtime in each season, to ensure that young Mexican talent is seen and gains experience. This is in hopes that some of this talent will move on to European leagues, will gain better experience there, and this will improve the Mexican national team during the World Cup.
*As of 2019, each team must give 1,000 minutes to players born in 1997 or after, and 500 of those minutes must go to players born in 1998 or after.
Mexican Soccer League – The Teams of the Mexican Soccer League:
*In alphabetical order:
- Club América
- Club Atlas
- Atlético San Luis
- Cruz Azul
- C.D. Guadalajara (Chivas)
- FC Juárez
- Club León
- C.F. Monterrey
- Monarcas Morelia
- Club Necaxa
- C.F. Pachuca
- Club Puebla
- Querétaro F.C.
- Santos Laguna
- Tiburones Rojos de Veracruz
- Tigres UANL
- Club Tijuana
- Deportivo Toluca F.C.
- Club Universidad Nacional (Pumas)
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