The FIFA break affords time to reflect on the first 11 weeks of Liga MX action and identify the players that have performed at the highest levels.
The Viva Liga MX team used the break in the Liga MX schedule to debate over the best starting line-up based on performances through Matchday 11. We then filled out our line-up based upon a 4-3-3 formation. It should be no surprise that league-leading Leon boasts five players and its coach in this list.
Here is what we came up with:
Sebastian Jurado – Veracruz
The 21-year-old netminder has emerged as one of Mexico’s top young prospects and could be the target of several big clubs after the season (we are looking at you, Cruz Azul). Although Los Tiburones Rojos are on a 21-game winless streak, Jurado has kept his team in games they have no right to be in by consistently making extraordinary saves. He has performed well in the big games top club teams in the Liga MX and keeping Veracruz in a draw, Chivas, Cruz Azul and Pumas. Jurado is the league leader with 54 saves, and is presently on duty with Mexico’s Under-22 team as they prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Honorable Mention: Rodolfo Cota (León) has only allowed 6 goals through 11 games.
Fernando Navarro – Club Leon
León has the league’s best offense (25 goals) and the No. 1 defense (6 goals) and Navarro is a primary contributor. The 29-year-old Navarro is an iron man, playing every second of every game (990 minutes) and is a threat going forward while always getting back to protect his flank at the back. The Mexico City native is a regular on weekly Ideal 11 lists.
Honorable Mention: Luis “Chaka” Rodríguez (Tigres) is a steady and reliable presence on the right side of the powerful northern club. Alan Mozo of UNAM also deserves recognition, but the 21-year-old is more proficient going forward than he is disciplined at the back.
Emanuel Aguilera – America; Nico Sánchez – Monterrey
These two veteran Argentine defenders are the leaders of their respective defenses, and America and Monterrey boast the stoutest back lines in the league. Both men are also their team’s designated penalty kick takers and are very dangerous on set pieces in their opponents’ areas.
Honorable Mention: Bruno Valdez (America) and Cesar Montes (Monterrey). Valdez is America’s leading scorer while Montes seems to be paving his way to a starting role with El Tri.
William Tesillo – León
Tesillo played in central defense last season but coach Ignacio Ambriz moved him out wide, and the Colombian has been a stud. The Esmeraldas defense is much more formidable now and the 29-year-old has shown the ability to move forward and support the offense when necessary.
Honorable Mention: Jesús Dueñas (Tigres) is a jack-of-all-trades who sometimes plays in midfield, but when he starts on the back line he is a very capable defender who plays smart.
Edson Alvarez – America; Guido Rodríguez – America; Angel Mena – León
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Very simply put, Alvarez and Rodriguez wreak mayhem on opposing offenses. Their physical play sets the tone for America and they provide excellent cover for the back line with athletic, pressing defense while also playing box-to-box. Alvarez has showcased why he was a starter for El Tri in the 2018 Russia World Cup and Rodriguez continues to play at the high level he demonstrated last season when he was the Liga MX MVP. Mena is on the short list for Clausura 2019 MVP, leading the league in both goals and assists. His play is a major reason the Esmeraldas are on an 8-game winning streak.
Honorable Mention: Isaac Brizuela (Chivas) is a consistent offensive threat on the right side for Guadalajara, while Luis Montes (León) is the midfield general for the league’s top team. Carlos Rodriguez (Monterrey) has played so well that he earned his debut with El Tri in Tata Martino’s first game as Mexico’s coach.
Andre Pierre Gignac – Tigres UANL
Last season’s leading scorer, Gignac is the focal point of the Tigres’ powerful offense. He has six goals despite missing the past two games due to a knee injury. Gignac is already a legend in Mexico and the Frenchman has scored 100 goals in 173 games with the Tigres. He is both a poacher who can sneak inside and score and a sniper who can curl shots into the net from distance.
Brian Fernandez – Necaxa
Fernandez is tied with Leon midfielder Angel Mena in the battle for top goal scorer but the Rayos star has scored all 9 of his goals from the run of play (Mena has 2 penalty conversions). The Argentine set a new team record by scoring in 5 straight matches and he is without doubt the No. 1 concern for opposing coaches. Fernandez also has 2 assists on the season and Necaxa looks to him when they need to generate offense.
Rogelio Funes Mori – Monterrey
The Argentine striker started the season on fire but has been slowed of late by fatigue. Even so, Funes Mori has eight goals on the season and two of his goals are in contention for Goal of the Year, especially his game-winner against America in Matchday 4. He typically plays as a lone striker, meaning he often faces double teams in the box, yet still regularly creates space to get off shots on goal.
Honorable Mention: Juan Jose Macias (León) is the top-scoring Mexican in Liga MX with 6 goals, while Nico Castillo (America) has already scored 4 goals despite not joining the Aguilas until after Matchday 4.
Ignacio Ambriz – León
Nacho has the Esmeraldas in first place and on an 8-game winning streak with the tough part of the schedule behind them. He has been masterful mixing in new players (Angel Mena and Juan Jose Macias) as well as tweaking his line-up whether due to injury or tactics.
Honorable Mention: Francisco Palencia (Lobos BUAP) has his modest club punching above its weight and in playoff contention despite playing without leading scorer Leo Ramos (season-ending knee injury).