Liga MX: Five things you might have missed ahead of the FIFA break

MONTERREY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 09: Rogelio Funes Mori (R) of Monterrey controls the ball during the quarterfinals match between Monterrey and Queretaro as part of the Copa MX Apertura 2018 at BBVA Bancomer Stadium on October 9, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Gustavo Valdez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
MONTERREY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 09: Rogelio Funes Mori (R) of Monterrey controls the ball during the quarterfinals match between Monterrey and Queretaro as part of the Copa MX Apertura 2018 at BBVA Bancomer Stadium on October 9, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Gustavo Valdez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

With the October FIFA break upon us, we have time to catch up on a few Mexican soccer items that were relegated to inside pages.

1. Monterrey advances to Copa MX semifinals

The Rayados defeated Querétaro 1-0 on the back of an early own goal by Camilo Sanvezzo. From about 50 meters out, Monterrey’s Dorlan Pabón lofted a free kick into the top of the penalty area and the Gallos Blancos’ leading scorer got his head on the ball but only enough to deflect it past his own goalie.

Querétaro rarely threatened in the first half, getting only one shot on goal and that was a weak header from distance. Meanwhile, the Rayados forced three tough saves from Gallos Blancos goalie Tiago Volpi. Querétaro managed only one shot on goal in the second half.

Monterrey advances to a semifinal game at Pachuca next week, in a rematch of their Copa MX final of a year ago, won by Monterrey 1-0. The other semifinal pits Cruz Azul with León.

2. El Tri femenil comes up short … way short

In a stunning development, Mexico will not be going to the 2019 Women’s World Cup after crashing out of the Concacaf qualifiers after a 2-0 loss to Panama. The Lady Aztecas were crushed by Team USA 6-0 in the opening group match then rebounded to defeat Trinidad & Tobago 4-1. But Panama’s surprise victory sends the Lady Canaleros to their first-ever World Cup, just months after the Panamanian men made their own World Cup debut in Russia.

The shocking result has produced a lot of hand-wringing in the media and in the soccer federation. El Tri Femenil was supposed to benefit from the establishment of a top-flight professional league for women in Mexico. In addition, more and more Mexican women are plying their trade in Europe … and finding success.

Some scribes worry that investors and league officials might rethink the nascent Liga MX Femenil, only in its third season. Let’s hope a serious review is conducted before any hasty – and regrettable – decisions are made.

3. No national team coach: Team USA vs El Tri

Speaking of hand-wringing … the ongoing “search” for a new national team coach for El Tri has produced some hyperventilating in the national sports media.

There is talk that more than 20 candidates have been interviewed – including Argentinians Gerardo Martino, Jorge Sampioli and Eduardo Berizzo as well as Europeans such as André Villas-Boas and Carlos Queiroz – but there is still no timeline to hire the full-time successor to Juan Carlos Osorio.

The Mexico job has been vacant since shortly after the World Cup ended in July and the speculation has produced plenty of vitriol and sanctimony. Even the players currently on duty with the national team have been hounded with questions about who they think the next coach should be.

Contrast this obsessive and in-your-face coverage with what’s taking place north of the border, where Team USA has been without a coach for over a year. Up there, the sports media is focused on the NLCS and the ALCS, the opening week of the NHL and the preseason tip-off of the NBA. OF course, there’s also NCAA football and the fallout from the UFC “dust-up” between Conor MacGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Soccer is barely a blip on the scroll across the bottom of the screen on ESPN.

So Team USA can focus on player development as they point toward Qatar 2020, still satisfied with their 1-0 win over Mexico during the September FIFA break.

4. Matosas to Costa Rica

One coach who earned mild consideration for the El Tri job four years ago was Uruguayan Gustavo Matosas. Four years ago, Matosas was a hot prospect after leading newly promoted León to back-to-back Liga MX titles (Apertura 2103 and Clausura 2014), only three seasons after he had coached the Esmeraldas to the Ascenso MX title, earning promotion.

Matosas left León to take over the reins at América, but did not bring the titles that management wanted. The Águilas “only” won the 2014-15 Concacaf Champions League title.

América canned Matosas after only 16 months. He then had a forgettable 5-month stint at Atlas before going on a world tour, with brief coaching stops in Saudi Arabia (Al-Hilal), Paraguay (Cerro Porteño) and Argentina (Estudiantes de la Plata).

On Tuesday, the Costa Rica Soccer Federation announced that they had signed the 51-year-old Matosas to take over the Ticos job. Costa Rica plays El Tri in Monterrey Thursday night and Matosas will be in attendance, but not on the sidelines. His first real test will be next summer when the Ticos try to claim their first-ever Gold Cup trophy.

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5. Liga MX MVP to El Tri?

Likely Apertura 2018 Liga MX Most Valuable Player Julio Furch has announced his interest in wearing the green. Furch is tied for the league goal-scoring lead and is third in assists while helping defending champion Santos make a strong bid to defend its crown.

Furch, a native of Argentina, has been playing in Mexico for nearly four years now, joining the Guerreros in January 2017 from Veracruz where he played from January 2015 through December 2016. This week, the 29-year-old striker told reporters he would be proud to play for the Mexican national team, though he said nobody from the soccer federation has approached him. One problem: Furch has not taken any steps toward naturalization.

The speculation on Furch’s future with El Tri will surely be heightened if one of his countrymen – say “Tata” Martino – is chosen as Team Mexico’s next coach.