5th coach falls: Atlético de San Luis fires ‘Poncho’ Sosa

Alfonso Sosa was fired by Atlético de San Luis on Sept. 4. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Alfonso Sosa was fired by Atlético de San Luis on Sept. 4. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Alfonso Sosa became the fifth coach to lose his job during the Apertura 2019 season. His dismissal came as a surprise.

The Liga MX management world claimed another head this morning. This time, Atlético de San Luis manager Alfonso “Poncho” Sosa was the casualty.

In a move that caught many people off guard, Atlético de San Luis released an official communiqué mid-morning stating that “Professor Sosa, together with his entire staff, would no longer be part of the club.”

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The communiqué also stated that Sosa had fulfilled all duties and completed all developmental objectives to this point. The club thanked him and his staff for their energy and commitment and wished them every success in the future. Finally, the press release ended by saying the team would name a successor in the coming days.

This move came as quite a surprise. Alfonso Sosa took over the team when it was at the bottom of the Ascenso MX standings, at risk of dropping down to third division. His steady hand, calm demeanor, tactical awareness and, in no small measure, his understanding of the Ascenso MX allowed the team to turn things around. He achieved the amazing feat of winning both Apertura 2018 and Clausura 2019 tournaments against a Maradona-led Dorados of Sinaloa, winning direct promotion to Liga MX.

Atlético San Luis’ first season back in the top league has been steady, if not spectacular. Heading into the FIFA international break the team is in a comfortable 10th place, just one point out of a Liguilla spot. Additionally, the team is undefeated in its last four games. The team won comfortably on the road in the Copa MX against Potros UAEM Tuesday night. They defeated Pachuca by the same 2-0 score last weekend, also away from home.

Unusual timing for move by San Luis

Although Atlético de San Luis currently sports a winning record, it would be incorrect to say Alfonso Sosa did not have his detractors. He has been criticized for his ultra-conservative strategic approach to games as well as his loyalty to certain players.

San Luis fired Poncho Sosa
Atlético San Luis players celebrate after scoring the first goal of their game at Pachuca on Saturday. The Tuneros defeated the Tuzos 2-0. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

For most of the opening weeks, Sosa chose a starting 11 heavily influenced by his trust of players who helped him win the Ascenso. All the while, most of the new signings have largely played bit parts so far, with ex-River Plate midfielder Camilo Mayada being the exception.

Two top-level players from Argentina were signed in the summer: striker Germán Berterame from San Lorenzo and attacking midfielder Ricardo Centurión from Racing Club. Both were expected to make a big impact, but thus far have featured only sparingly. Interestingly, Centurión wasn’t even on the bench for the Copa MX game last night. Fans have been pleading for the skilled Argentine to be named in the starting 11.

All quiet at the training ground. (Photo by Alan Geegan, Sept. 4, 2019)
All quiet at the training ground. (Photo by Alan Geegan, Sept. 4, 2019) /

The club will name a successor in the coming days. Two names circulating as possible replacements for Sosa are Gustavo Matosas, current manager of the Costa Rica national team who announced his resignation on Wednesday night, and Antonio Mohamed, most recently of Argentina’s Huracán.

Matosas coached León to back-to-back Liga MX titles (Apertura 2013 and Clausura 2014), while Mohamed won league titles with Tijuana (Apertura 2012) and América (Apertura 2014).

More questions than answers

Atlético de San Luis CEO and president Alberto Marrero held a press conference at Ciudad Deportiva La Presa at 5 p.m. central time. It only lasted two minutes and he did not allow for questions. Marrero only said that the dismissal of Professor Alfonso Sosa was due to Sosa making disrespectful comments about the players as well as about Marrero himself. The San Luis CEO added that the values of the club had been compromised and the organization will move forward in the next stage of the club’s development.