Miguel Herrera had his wish granted and the Aguilas nabbed striker Nico Castillo just in the nick of time.
A flurry of activity just before the transfer window closed finds América restocked in attack, while the Pumas, León, Tijuana and Veracruz addressed holes in their rosters.
The defending champion Aguilas signed two front-line players to bolster their attack which has been battered by injury and attrition. Chilean Nico Castillo was brought in from Portugal’s Benfica and Argentine Nicolás Benedetti was acquired from Deportivo Cali, a team that provided two other players to Liga MX in the past few days.
Castillo, 25, starred with the Pumas for a year-and-a-half, playing in 45 games and scoring 26 goals for América’s bitter city rivals. His most recent “interaction” with Mexico came in the Oct. 16, 2018, Chile-Mexico friendly in which he scored against El Tri.
The Chile international will battle for playing time with Roger Martínez, Henry Martín and Oribe Peralta (on the sidelines for 3 weeks after ankle surgery).
Winger Benedetti, 21, is nicknamed “The Poet” and he’ll be expected to create football verse and rhyme on the flanks in place of the departed Diego Lainez and Cecilio Domínguez.
More from Viva Liga MX
- Guillermo Ochoa is out 4-6 weeks
- The Clásico Regiomontano is Heating Up
- 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
Across town, the Pumas addressed a position of concern by signing Benedetti’s Cali teammate Jeison Angulo, 22. The left back will be given the opportunity to win the starting spot on the port side of the defense where Alan Mendoza lost the confidence of former coach David Patiño.
New coach Bruno Marioni will hope that this move fortifies the Pumas’ back line so that he can focus on igniting the stagnant offense.
Up north, the Xolos of Tijuana contacted Deportivo Cali to arrange for the services of 21-year-old midfielder Kevin Balanta. Coach Oscar Pareja will be able to work with the developing youngster for the next year as Tijuana agreed to a 12-month loan deal with the option to purchase Balanta’s contract.
On the Gulf coast, the Tiburones turned to a veteran to strengthen the middle of their defense, signing the legendary Carlos Salcido who retired from the Chivas in December. Salcido, 38, will be called upon as a stop-gap and a mentor as Veracruz faces almost certain relegation after this season.
Earlier this month, Necaxa continued its recent trend toward linking up with players and clubs from Chile, acquiring 18-year-old midfielder Martín Lara from Universidad Católica. This week, the Rayos rejected a bid from Chile’s Colo Colo for striker Brian Fernández because the club had already sold striker Víctor Dávila, another Chilean, to Pachuca. Meanwhile, Necaxa did let Chile international Mati Fernández leave, declining to offer the injury-prone 31-year-old a new contract.
Last week, León quietly added an attacking piece to its roster, acquiring Costa Rica international Joel Campbell. The 26-year-old forward has played in two World Cups for the Ticos and comes to Liga MX from Italy’s Frosinone. Long under contract to Arsenal, Campbell has spent plenty of time out on loan assignments, toiling for teams including Olympiakos, Spain’s Villarreal and Real Betis, Portugal’s Sporting and France’s Lorient. He should be able to slot into the position vacated by Rubens Sambueza who broke a toe 10 days ago.
As expected, Fernando Guerrero was not assigned to a match this weekend after his disastrous performance during the Monterrey-América match on Saturday. Guerrero made several controversial penalty calls and showed 4 red cards during the match (one of which was rescinded by Federation officials).
Meanwhile, Jorge Pérez Durán was left off the sheet for a second straight weekend after his poor work during the Guadalajara-Toluca match. Durán declined to look at the video of a shot by Toluca’s Enrique Triverio that trickled along the goal line and was initially ruled a goal. When the video assistant replay official said he wasn’t sure the ball ever fully crossed the line, Pérez Durán waved off the goal. The proper procedure would have been for him to look at the video himself and render his own ruling.
Also still “suspended” is Erick Yair Miranda who had not been given a game since Aug. 18, when he whistled a penalty against Necaxa as time expired. Edu Vargas converted the spot kick to earn the Tigres a 1-1 draw.