Mercado, González receive first female Balón de Oro awards

Balón de Oro
The 2021 Balón de Oro awards ceremony was held on Saturday, July 17. (Photo by Liga MX)

For the first time ever, players from the Liga MX Femenil received Balón de Oro recognition. Liliana Mercado of Tigres won Player of the Year, while Alison González of Atlas won Junior Player of the Year.

The Balón de Oro awards ceremony is held annually by the Mexican Football Federation. It recognizes the best players, coaches, and referees within Liga MX.

While the Liga MX Femenil began its inaugural season in 2017, female footballers have not been a part of the Mexican Golden Ball awards until now.

Liliana Mercado

It makes sense why Liliana Mercado took home the top prize on Saturday night. The Tigres captain led her team through a remarkable 2020/21 campaign.

Tigres finished at the top of the table in both the opening and the closing tournaments of the season. The club then carried that success all the way through both tournament’s finals. In doing so, Tigres became the first club to win both the opening and closing tournaments of a single Liga MX Femenil season.

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The State of Mexico native played a crucial role for Tigres in the midfield. Throughout the season’s two tournaments, Mercado logged 2,790 minutes during the regular phases and 1,080 minutes during the playoff phases.

While Mercado only scored three goals across the entirety of the 2020/21 season, her precision in the middle of the park was a fundamental part of Tigres’s attack. She was involved with 29 goal-scoring plays and maintained an 88% pass accuracy, completing 1,758 passes during the season.

Above all, it is Mercado’s leadership abilities that separate her from the rest. Having captained Tigres since their first competitive season, one could argue that receiving the Player of the Year award is a fitting summary for all four seasons she’s spent in the Liga MX Femenil.

Alison González

At only 19 years old, Alison González has already made a name for herself as a top goalscorer. The Atlas striker notably won the Golden Boot award at the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship and scored her first league hat-trick the following year. Yet, it wasn’t until this past season that González really took her eye for goal to the next level.

During the regular phase of the 2020 opening tournament, González racked up a total of 17 goals. Unfortunately, it was one goal too short, as Tigres’s Katty Martínez claimed the top-goalscorer spot with 18 goals.

Top goalscorer or not, González was unfazed heading into the closing tournament. She went on to equal Martínez’s league best of 18 regular phase goals and clinch the closing tournament’s top goalscorer title.

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With a total of 35 regular phase goals during the 2020/21 season, González solidified herself as one of the most dangerous attacking threats in all of Mexico. She even caught the eye of the Mexican senior national team, with whom she made her debut in February against Costa Rica.

While being recognized as the Junior Player of the Year is a notable achievement, González is only just getting started.

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