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Why should Maricarmen Reyes choose the NWSL over Liga MX?

Maricarmen Reyes is getting attention from both the NWSL and Liga MX Femenil. But considering the NWSL's track record, is that really a choice for Reyes?

Once the NCAA season finished, UCLA standout Maricarmen Reyes took the typical path most top athletes take and declared for the NWSL draft. Already representing El Tri Femenil on the international level, she is considered one of the top picks to start her pro career with one of the league’s twelve teams. At least, that’s what most assumed would happen until rumors started to swirl that Tigres had reached out to Reyes for a potential move to Mexico.  

Some fans think that Liga MX and the NWSL are now in competition for her services, but is there a competition between the NWSL and Liga MX Femenil? The USA may be the top country for women’s fútbol on the international stage, but the NWSL isn’t the only professional route a player has and it isn’t the most competitive league in the world. If the NWSL is the best league in the world then why did Mia Fishel, Reyes’s former UCLA teammate, forgo signing with the Orlando Pride after being selected fifth overall in the draft? Fishel has made her mark in Mexico and even won the golden boot during Apertura 2022, helping Tigres achieve their fifth title. Reyes could be doing the same, soon.

American players are choosing Liga MX

Fishel isn’t the only American success story in Mexico. Vanessa Millsaps and Leyla McFarland both forwent the draft in their respective years and signed with Pachuca. There’s also Mailin Orozco, who signed with Xolos after she had already committed to Santa Clara University and was the #8 rated player for the Class of 2023, according to Top Drawer Soccer. If the United States has the best women’s fútbol in the world, why did these players leave their home country?

The draft is one of the biggest reasons players move to Mexico. Like in most American sports leagues, drafted players don’t have a say where they are drafted, and once drafted they can be moved and traded anywhere in the league. That’s not an issue in Liga MX, where top talent can choose where to sign before even committing to a college. On top of that, the pay is not competitive in America unlike other leagues around the world, though the pay has gone up substantially over the years. If she’s able to make more money in a more competitive league in a country she already plays for, what is there exactly to keep Reyes in America? 

The NWSL is not the best option for Maricarmen Reyes

Reyes also has a significant issue to consider: The NWSL does not have the best track record with Latina players. Katie Johnson was waived from the San Diego wave after only one season even though she has proven she is a prolific goal scorer. Stefany Ferrer Van Ginkel, who played for Angel City, was also waived after one season where she was given limited minutes. 

The only time she was given substantial minutes was when Angel City played Tigres Femenil and the Mexican National Team in international friendlies where Van Ginkel was used to promote the games. Van Ginkel played well in both of those friendlies against top competition, yet she was not given the chance to prove herself outside of those two games. Those are two great players who were not given the opportunity and were mistreated in the NWSL. 

Maricarmen Reyes has a lot of potential, but playing in the NWSL might just waste it. A move to Mexico might just be what she needs.