Cruz Azul Takes Command Thanks to a Forgotten Star

Concussions appears to be the current media buzz word. It’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week as the NFL works to limit them among its players.

SI’s Grant Wahl weighed in on the subject and its effect in the world of futbol as well.

Wednesday night, a player who suffered a terrible concussion two years ago finally looked like his old self for the first time since taking that brutal hit in the 2nd Leg of the A-08 final. Cesar Villaluz, was absolutely flattened by a Toluca defender in that game and taken to the hospital immediately. He recovered, but his form suffered terribly. A fearless player had turned timid. His post-concussion game was defined by caution. He led the league in passes back to defenders.

Needless to say, it was only a matter of time before he vacated his starting position. Another U17 Niño Heroe who had failed to live up to the expectation.

This season, he had seen very little time, making only two appearances in 13 games. So yes, it was a surprise to see him in the starting line-up when the league’s two leaders, Cruz Azul and Monterrey, squared off in La Sultana del Norte.

“I couldn’t get desperate. I had to keep working to get that opportunity. And when it comes, take advantage.”

Did he ever.

The Cruz Azul product was on the field to limit Walter Ayovi’s advances up Monterrey’s left flank. Once the Ecuadorian had been neutralized, Villaluz went on the attack and bagged two goals in Cruz Azul’s 4-2 romp. The victory put Cruz Azul in the Liguilla and sent a clear message to the rest of the league that Cruz Azul will be a force in the post-season.

Cruz Azul has already exorcised one ghost this season when they beat America for the first time in quite a while. A much larger specter looms; they have been to 5 finals over the past few years, losing them all. Villaluz would like nothing more than to open up the ghost trap and suck that one in as well. But they have to lay the trap first.

“we don’t see ourselves as favorites. We have to play the last few with hopes that we enter the post-season with momentum. And the liguilla, well, we’ll take it step by step.”