After a frustrating Liga MX Apertura, Leon hopes they’ve made the moves necessary to return to La Liguilla in the Clausura 2019.
Of the 10 Liga MX clubs that missed the Apertura 2018 Liguilla, only Pachuca allowed less goals than Leon’s 23 goals conceded. Unfortunately, only Xolos, Atlas, and Veracruz scored less than Leon, as well. La Fiera managed to scored just 18 goals in their 17 matches, and ended the season having scored just four goals in six matches since October 6, 2018.
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Mauro Boselli led the way with six goals, followed by Luis Montes with five. Together they made up 61% of Leon’s total offense with an average age of 32.5 between the two. The club needs an injection of youth and energy, consequently.
Cue the winter transfer window! Leon shipped out the likes of Hector Mascorro, Dario Burbano, Leonel Lopez, Claudio Gonzalez and Cristian Torres, who combined for 20 appearances in the Apertura, keeping the bulk of the roster intact for the Clausura. They brought in 22-year-olds Dilan Zuniga (left-back) and Ivan Ochoa (central midfield) from the Chilean club, Everton. In addition, 19-year-old striker Jose Macias joins the club from Chivas. How much these young players will feature in the Clausura remains to be seen, but the infusion of young talent should help move Leon forward.
Ironically, it is the 34-year-old addition to the team that may make the most immediate impact. Rubens Sambueza signed with Leon after scoring five goals and pitching in four assists in 12 appearances with Toluca in the Apertura. Those numbers were good for 2nd best in goals and best in assists for Los Diablos, and the Argentine still has the playmaking skills to help Leon improve on offense, as well as give them the bite necessary to cause some upsets in Liga MX.
Also joining La Fiera is Angel Mena, who saw eight appearances with Cruz Azul in the Apertura and could provide some offensive help with more playing time, as he is a strong passer.
The additions to a group that includes young winger Yairo Moreno and up-and-coming fullback Osvaldo Rodriguez, along with a solid, if unspectacular defense, should press them up among the contenders for the final Liguilla spots. Look for Leon to finish the season in the range 7th to 11th in the table, with the potential to reach higher if some of these young players hit or a Sambueza-Boselli partnership can produce some magic.