Guadalajara is riding high after claiming its second win of the season. Next up is a well-rested Leon team that is off to a slow start.
The Chivas are coming off a dominant 3-0 win against Atletico San Luis. Yes, two of their three goals came from the penalty spot, but they were rightfully earned.
That they couldn’t capitalize with another goal during the final 10 minutes when Atletico had checked out of the match was more telling. It was a good win, but the Chivas must avoid becoming complacent. Coach Tomas Boy has Guadalajara in 6th place but a win at Leon would look might good on the club’s resume.
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Leon had a bye last week and they are currently 12th in the table. The Esmeraldos had an impressive win in Week 1, handing Pachuca its first home loss in two seasons 3-1. Leon followed that up with a hard-fought 0-0 drew against America. But Week 3 saw the Esmeraldas give up a 2-goal lead at Monterrey before losing on a goal in minute 90.
Players to Watch
Chivas: There was one player who caught the eye of everyone last week and that was goalie Antonio Rodriguez. “Toño recovered from a poor first game against Santos Laguna (a 3-1 loss) and has played lights out since. He has single-handedly kept the Chivas in games, and is shoeing confidence, aggressively coming off his line and directing the defense. Speaking of the revamped defense, they have made a big difference especially since the offense is struggling to score goals from live play.
The other key Guadalajara player is Eduardo “Chofis” Lopez. The young midfielder is finally getting his due as coach Boy has given him the keys to the offense. “Chofis” opened the scoring vs Atletico San Luis when he joined the attack, hopped on a loose ball and fired home just 15 minutes into the match. He has been clever finding space and has been productive with the dribble, while also looking for his shot with confidence.
Leon: Ismael Sosa was acquired this summer and he has been playing in the slot behind J.J. Macias and alongside winger Angel Mena. Sosa has scored twice through 3 Liga MX games, and is becoming more influential with each game he plays. Leon likes to counter attack and he looks comfortable joining in with Mena and Macias who were a dynamic duo last season.
The Esmeraldas defense has not played to the level it did last season. Right back Fernando Navarro missed the Monterrey game after being shown red win Week 2 vs America. His absence saw coach Ignacio Ambriz opt to play central defender Andres Mosqueda at right-back and he seemed a bit shaky there. Ambriz has also used winger Jairo Moreno had left back with some success. Moreno showed some defensive discipline and is dangerous when he rushes forward in attack. But perhaps a bigger key will be to see if goalie Rodolfo Cota plays well after several so-so performances.
Van Rankin – Briseño – Alanis
Brizuela – Villalpando – Molina – “Chofis” – Zendejas
Pulido – Vega
Navarro – Mosquera – Tesillo – Moreno
Meneses – Montes
Mena – Sosa – Campbell
Last season, the Chivas ended Leon’s historic 12-game win streak and the Esmeraldas will want to earn a measure of revenge at home. I don’t think they will. In a close match, J.J. Macias scores against his old team again but doesn’t celebrate, showing how he has matured since the last tournament. Leon will work hard but can’t shake their slow start. For the Chivas, Toño Rodriguez puts on a Man of the Match performance though “Chofis” will get some votes by either scoring or providing a key assist.