The first leg of the Mexican Apertura Final takes place tonight in Torreon’s shiny new TSM Corona Stadium. I have enlisted the help of a few friends; two fans each for Santos and Monterrey, to present their thoughts on the final.
The first two are Santos fans. A Torreon native, Raul Allegre is a Texas Longhorn, and former NFL kicker who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants. He currently works as a commentator for ESPN Deportes, including color duties on the Monday Night Football telecasts.
He is such a huge Santos fan that he once got mad at me when I told him the outcome of a Santos match (they lost) when he visited our booth during halftime of a Longhorn game. “I was taping it at home.” He told me.
He is very worried. “Santos’ defense is not good. And it will be harder with Estrada and JP Rodriguez out and Balloy suspended.”
Bigsoccer member and Santos fan, El Pipiripau shares Mr. Allegre’s sentiment. “If we win, it’s because we will outscore them. I have trouble believing we can win a defensive battle.”
Allegre expects Monterrey to play defensively and then go for the kill in the home leg on Sunday. Which is why “(Daniel) Ludueña and (Christian) Benitez have to play two terrific games.”
El Pipiripau adds, “The final is a battle of contrasting styles. I hope we go out like we usually do and attack. The good thing is that Quintero has found his form.”
The two Monterrey fans I spoke two are both very optimistic. Dr. Ruben Pizarro and I worked on Raul Allegre’s Supershow Deportivo, an award-winning NFL show that was syndicated nationally in the mid-90’s. Prior to his co-hosting duties with Mr. Allegre, Ruben worked as a sportscaster in Monterrey and also had a sports medicine practice. Today he is the play-by-play voice of the Longhorns en Español football broadcasts. He always tells me “soy rayado pero tigre de corazon.”
He is a conflicted Monterrey fan, but a fan nonetheless. “I hope that Monterrey’s strikers come through because I am not sure if Monterrey can stop Santos’ forwards.” A fair assessment.
The other Monterrey fan I talked to is one of Bigsoccer’s more colorful members, Perndog2006. He not only wants Monterrey not only to win, but also “to win it in a matter so overwhelming and convincingly, that there is no doubt that el Monterrey is the best of the North of Mexico.”
Strong statements from the Perndog, but he understands Santos is no slouch. “The quality of the squads could however make this series go either way. Both teams have great players and their foreign counterparts most play for their national team of origin.”
Pern’s worries have nothing to do with the players, but with the men in black (or pink or blue or whatever color they choose wear). “My biggest fear is the ref's. In 2005 Monterrey were robbed of their championship in el Tec with 3 red cards.”
Ruben sums up the match-up nicely. “Both teams have been consistent, but only one has Chupete.”