The 17-game Liga MX marathon leading up to the Liguilla kicked off this past weekend with some surprises.
The Clausura 2019 season provided several intriguing story lines (you know what I mean, Rayados fans), but the events and accomplishments were overshadowed by the long-awaited presentation of Mexico’s new coach. Tata Martino’s media conference drowned out coverage of Liga MX news that is worthy of greater attention. So let’s take a quick dive.
Rayados Make Statement
Monterrey trounced Pachuca 5-0 to announce their intention of fighting for the title. This despite the fact that coach Diego Alonso did not use shifty midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro or captain José María Basanta. The game also marked the return of defensive mid Jonathan González, who missed several games late last season, including all four playoff matches.
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- Pumas: In Search of Regaining a Top Spot
- Why the United States Is Set to Overtake Mexico on the World Stage
- Erick Gutierrez is out once again
Lobos BUAP figures to be scrambling to avoid relegation all season, but the Puebla-based club earned 3 critical points at home against once-powerful Santos on Sunday. The lowly Lobos have a modest roster, but they took advantage of a Santos team only one season removed from a championship. Leo Ramos and Yago César scored second-half goals for the home team. Santos sorely missed striker Jonathan Rodríguez (9 goals last season) and playmaker Osvaldo Martínez. It could be a long season for the Guerreros.
It took the Zorros 9 games last season to score their first goal. At Querétaro on Friday, Atlas scored once in each half to steal a 2-1 road win over the Gallos Blancos. Both goals were scored by newcomers: Jesús Isijara netted in minute 42 and Osvaldo Martínez followed suit in minute 50. Both midfielders came over from Santos during the winter transfer.
Cruz Azul is determined to avenge last season’s loss in the finals, but looked stagnant and unimaginative in its 1-1 tie at Puebla. Coach Pedro Caixinha did not insert new striker Jonathan Rodríguez until the 65-minute mark and if not for a brilliant individual effort by Elías Hernández, the Cementeros might have come away with 0 points. And now, Hernández has come up lame, leaving the practice field under medical supervision on Monday. Cruz Azul hosts Guadalajara at Estadio Azteca which might very well be a must-win game for the Cementeros.
Aguilas Lining Their Nest?
Liga MX champion América has demonstrated interest in acquiring Chile international striker Nico Castillo from Portugal’s Benfica, where the former Pumas star now basically warms the bench. Castillo had brushed aside offers in mid-December saying he’d only play for the Pumas, but now could be enticed by offers of playing time. The 25-year-old Chilean scored 25 goals in 39 games for UNAM from 2017-2018. He also scored against Mexico during Chile’s 2-0 win over El Tri in October.