Punchless Pumas in search of quick fix for Clausura

Pumas fans didn't have much to cheer for this year and that led to poor attendance figures in the Apertura 2019. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Pumas fans didn't have much to cheer for this year and that led to poor attendance figures in the Apertura 2019. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
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Pumas look for scoring
Carlos Gonzalez was one of the few bright spots for the Pumas in the Apertura 2019, scoring a team-high 7 goals. He’ll need some help up front if the club hopes to make the playoffs in the Clausura 2020. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Pumas brings in reinforcements from MLS

With three-fourths of the stout back line returning – Nicolás Freire, Luis Fernando Quintana and Alan Mozo – the front office has focused on fortifying the midfield. Holdovers Andrés Iniestra and Juan Pablo Vigón are expected to be contributors, but they’ll have two new faces to work with in the Clausura 2020.

Pumas look for help
Alan Mozo looks certain to be a fixture on the right side of the Pumas formation for years to come. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Favio Álvarez was signed from the L.A. Galaxy and Sebastián Saucedo from Real Salt Lake on a free transfer.

Álvarez is a 26-year-old Argentine who made 18 appearances for the Galaxy during the 2019 MLS season. The attacking midfielder scored three times.

Saucedo is a 22-year-old California native who spent the past two seasons in MLS. He actually spent a year on loan with Veracruz back in 2016 as a 19-year-old, making four Liga MX appearances before returning to Real Salt Lake. During the 2019 MLS season, Saucedo played in 26 of Real’s 34 matches (13 as a starter), contributing 2 goals and 4 assists.

Reports this week suggest the Pumas are close to acquiring Anderson Julio, 23, a playmaking midfielder who spent 2019 with Ecuador’s Liga de Quito. The Ecuadorian scored 10 goals and had 10 assists in 37 games in 2019 after scoring 13 times and recording 10 assists in 2018.

These moves would suggest “Michel” intends to stick with a 5-man midfield.

UNAM is also said to be negotiating with Monterrey for young defender Johan Vázquez, but he is currently in Qatar with the Rayados at the FIFA Club World Cup.

Pumas look for help
Despite a solid season, goalie Alfredo Saldivar could face some competition in the Clausura 2020. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

There have been whispers that the Pumas are taking a close look at Chivas goalie Raúl Gudiño to challenge incumbent keeper Alfredo Saldívar. Gudiño, 23, might prefer going back to Europe where he played in Portugal with Porto (behind Iker Casillas) and spent a brief loan spell with Apoel in Cyprus before joining Guadalajara in June 2018. He failed to win the Chivas job outright, however, and spent last season behind José Antonio Rodríguez. The Pumas apparently believe competition in goal would help both “Pollo” Saldívar, 29, and Gudiño.

Regardless of the positive nature of these and any future moves, the rumors of locker-room dissension will have to be addressed. Some reports hinted at accusations that “Michel” was playing favorites. Management evidently wants to curtail the infighting and a report has emerged that players were ordered to stop speaking out on social media, or risk facing fines.

This could be a harbinger of things to come, especially if the Pumas get off to a slow start in January.