Friday Kick-off: Santos hosts streaking Rayados

Rogelio Funes Mori, left, will likely see a lot of Santos defender Matheus Doria on Friday night. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Rogelio Funes Mori, left, will likely see a lot of Santos defender Matheus Doria on Friday night. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Santos has no time to wallow in self-pity after upset loss to Necaxa since hungry Monterrey will show no sympathy.

Liga MX offers up another triple-header to kick off Matchday 6 and though only one of the three – Santos vs Monterrey – is a truly attractive match-up, the other two games provide intriguing story lines.

The ball starts rolling in Veracruz where the hapless Tiburones take on visiting Atlético San Luis. The hosts will be trying to avoid the ignominy of going a full year without a league win.

Then UNAM visits Morelia with the desire to prove they are contenders and not pretenders. The Pumas will try to make that claim against a Monarcas team that will be debuting a new coach, Pablo Guede.

Finally, the Rayados of Monterrey will hope that Santos has not recovered from their shock loss at the hands of Necaxa last week so they can continue to climb up the standings after a slow start.

Monterrey at Santos

The visiting Rayados will take the field at Estadio Corona on a three-game roll. Though the last two wins were not particularly impressive, Monterrey has climbed from 17th place to 6th.

Coach Diego Alonso appears to have settled on a significant roster change that will impact how the Rayados do from here on out. Monterrey has switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 5-2-2-1 and the odd man out appears to be captain Dorlan Pabón. The 31-year-old winger has been known to feud with coach Alonso, so his reaction could be key to the remainder of the Rayados’ season.

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Attacking midfielder Maxi Meza steps into the starting spot because he is seen as a better fit in the new formation and he’ll work alongside Rodolfo Pizarro and striker Rogelio Funes Mori.

The defense will face a dangerous Santos attack and Monterrey’s three central defenders – Stefan Medina, Nico Sánchez and César Montes – will focus on limiting Julio Furch’s touches, while fullbacks Miguel Layún and Jesús Gallardo will track Brian Lozano, who flips from wing-to-wing throughout the match.

Santos suffered its first loss of the season last week after a 4-0-0 start, although they deserved better. The Guerreros hit two posts, the crossbar once and had two goals disallowed.

The hosts will benefit from the return of defensive stalwart Matheus Dória who missed last week on a red-card suspension. The midfield is led by smooth veteran Fernando Gorriarán and youngsters Ulises Rivas and Adrián Lozano.

Santos v Monterrey Week 6
Julio Furch is the fulcrum of the Santos attack. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images) /

The attacking trident of Furch, Brian Lozano and Erick Castillo will have to rediscover their scoring touch. Santos still leads the league in scoring despite being shut out last week and they are capable of exploiting even the best defenses. Furch will look to create space to redirect long balls to Lozano and Castillo who will run at defenders in search of scoring chances.

Santos goalie Jonathan Orozco will be eager to play well but has not always had good luck against his former team. His participation in the offense is often considerable.

UNAM at Morelia

The Monarcas fired Javier Torrente after last week’s loss to América and Pablo Guede takes over. He has his work cut out for him because the Morelia roster is thin.

It now seems likely that Morelia will hold onto Edison Flores who was being recruited by Lokomotiv Moscow. With the team entrenched in the cellar, management is reluctant to trade away its best player, though the Peru international wants out.

Santos v Monterrey Week 6
Pumas coach Michel Gonzalez (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The Pumas arrive off a ho-hum win over Veracruz last week, though the positive note is that it ended a two-game losing streak. UNAM is in fifth place because it has faced lesser competition and this visit to Morelia must result in 3 points for coach Michel González, because the schedule is about to get tougher.

Pumas striker Carlos González has yet to get untracked and if he can start producing it will ease the pressure on the overworked midfield where Andrés Iniestra and Víctor Malcorra have

played well. Skipper Pablo Barrera also must improve as his forays down the right wing have not led to the dangerous crosses on which he has built his career.

Atlético San Luis at Veracruz

This is a must-win game for Atlético San Luis as the rookie club bids to climb out of the relegation zone. The Tuneros are proving to be a disciplined defensive team, but they have scored only twice in four games. Coach Alfonso Romo tends to be a conservative tactician but he might throw his team forward against the lowly Tiburones.

Veracruz has not won a Liga MX match since defeating Tijuana 1-0 on Aug. 25, 2018. Even though there are still 32 games remaining before relegation is determined, the Tiburones are in real danger of being demoted for the second year in a row.

Wizened coach Enrique “Ojitos” Meza has an empty cupboard and can only hope to stanch the bleeding in search of ties. Still, he has his team playing hard, and this is a winnable game.