New Liga MX club Atlético San Luis has been busy bolstering its roster as have the desperate Chivas.
The summer silly season is upon us. Rumors of splashy acquisitions get fans’ hopes up while whispers that a favorite player will be transferred can ruin some supporters’ week. Transfer season can be a whirlwind.
For 10 Liga MX teams, the offseason began after the first weekend of May. The other 8 teams spent a few weeks battling for the Clausura 2019 trophy; León and the Tigres played the grand finale on May 26. For those Clausura also-rans who hope to be contenders, there is no time to waste.
The Apertura 2019 kicks off in mid-July though the transfer window will remain open through the month of August. A few teams are wasting no time shaking up their roster and there is no shortage of rumors, including a few blockbusters. But that’s the fun of the silly season. Fans get a chance to imagine what their team would be like with Neymar on their roster (No! He is not signing with Veracruz.)
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As for me, I prefer waiting until the final rosters are printed in ink and ignore the hullabaloo during the summer … Just Kidding! This is gonna be great fun! Today we’ll focus on two of the 19 Liga MX teams that will compete in the upcoming Apertura 2019.
Newcomers San Luis gets busy
The city of San Luis Potosí will again host a Liga MX team; it has been 13 years since Estadio Alfonso Lastras has been home to a first division team.
The young Atlético San Luis franchise won both the Apertura 2018 and the Clausura 2019 tournaments in Ascenso MX, climbing into the first division for the first time since the club was founded in 2013.
No doubt, the club will benefit from its relationship with Atlético de Madrid. Los Colchoneros acquired 51 percent of the San Luis team in 2017 and the team’s fortunes have risen steadily since.
With promotion to the big leagues, the Rojiblancos management knows it must strengthen the roster if they hope to remain in the top division longer than a single season. The situation was made more imperative when Atético Madrid plucked 24-year-old Argentine striker Nicolás Ibáñez off the San Luis roster. Ibáñez scored 22 goals in 50 games with San Luis.
In exchange for Ibáñez, goalie Axel Werner, 23, has been loaned to San Luis. The Argentine keeper was acquired by Atlético de Madrid when he was 19 and he spent last season on loan with Huesca and Málaga in La Liga, but did not see much action. He figures to be the starting goalie in Liga MX.
San Luis took a small step to replace Ibáñez by signing Ricardo Centurion from Argentina club Racing. Centurion, 26, is a skilled forward who favors playing on the wing, but he comes with baggage. He wore out his welcome at Racing by publicly criticizing teammates and management after the team had won the SuperLiga championships in April.
No doubt, there will be plenty more moves here before the season opens next month.
Chivas getting a facelift
It’s tough to know where to start with these Chivas. They face serious relegation issues after stinking up the place last season, a season that included a team-record 8-game winless streak (0-1-7) fueled by a 3-14 goal differential.
Coach José Cordozo was fired after Matchday 12 and Tomás Boy finished out the season, ridding himself of the “interim” tag by signing a 3-year contract after the season.
Boy recognizes that there are major holes in the Chivas roster and he submitted a list of preferred targets, one of whom is already on board: defender Antonio Briseño.
Briseño, 25, starred for Team Mexico at the Under-17 World Cup in 2011 as El Tri won the Cup at Estadio Azteca. The Guadalajara native spent the past two years at Portugal’s Feirense after short stints with Atlas, the Tigres, FC Juárez and Veracruz.
Briseño will be expected to start alongside Hiram Mier in central defense, taking the spot vacated by captain Jair Pereira, who heads the Chivas’ transfer list.
The Chivas also went to Europe to acquire Ulises Dávila, a 28-year-old midfielder who has been on an odyssey since leaving Guadalajara to sign with Chelsea in 2011. Dávila debuted with the Chivas as an 18-year-old and went on to star for Mexico’s U-20 team in 2011, helping El Mini Tri finish in third place. His play caught the eye of Chelsea and he left for England at 20, but did not find success. After brief stays in lower divisions in Spain and Portugal, Dávila returned to Mexico to play with Santos. The oppressive “Gentlemen’s Pact” that governs player movement in Liga MX prevented Dávila from returning to Chivas without playing in another league, so the Guadalajara native left for India to spend a season with a modest club in East Bengal. Now, finally, he is back home in the Jalisco state capital.
But Briseño and Dávila will not turn around the Chivas’ fortunes by themselves. There are 8 players on the official transfer list, so there are multiple openings. For instance, in addition to Pereira, strikers Luis Madrigal and José de Jesús Godínez will be traded, as will back-up goalie Miguel “Wacho” Jiménez.
Coach Boy will no doubt want to boost his attacking line-up (the Chivas only scored 16 goals in 17 games) and a few names are getting tossed about, including Juergen Damm (Tigres) and Erick Aguirre (Pachuca). Pumas captain Pablo Barrera, a winger, could also be available, and Monterrey midfielder Alfonso González could be a target though he is coming off a knee injury.
On the back line – which is in desperate need of reinforcements – there have been whispers about signing Cruz Azul defender Julio César Domínguez.
No doubt, there will be considerable turnover in the remaining weeks before the Apertura 2019 kicks off and we’ll track them for you.