Business as Usual

After a crazy start, even by Mexican futbol standards, the Clausura 2011 is starting to settle into more familiar patterns.

The big teams are finding their way to the top, the consistently mediocre are falling to customary levels, and coaches have come and gone.

Atlas started off white hot, but we knew it wouldn’t last long. It didn’t. They followed up three wins with three losses. Only the most optimistic sunshine pumper would have imagined Atlas keeping their winning ways. Reality has returned, with disappointment sure to follow.

After a slow start, Monterrey are rising fast. Rayados have too many good players to suck as bad as they did to start the season. Humberto Suazo has regained his scoring touch, and Monterrey has found their way back into the win column.

The defending champs, though, are not even the best team in their own city right now. Tuca’s Tigres are off to one of their best starts in ages. The perennially overpaid underachievers are finally giving their rabid fan base fair market value for the emotional investment. At 13 points, the Tigres top the table, which is an alliteration that is almost as unfathomable to type as Atlas

And it just so happens that these two square off this weekend. Tigres can put 7 points of distance between the two while Monterrey can claw within a few points of the leaders. The clasico regio is the best derby in Mexico, and that’s even when one or both teams are mid-table sloths or worse. This weekend’s edition is huge, and will be must see TV.

Tigres has gotten a lot of mileage from their mid-year acquisitions, namely Chilean striker, Hector Mancilla. Pumas, on the other hand, haven’t signed a new player for several years, as part of a long-term plan to eventually field a roster of Mexican nationals. Even the loss of two players to Europe did not dissuade the front office, as they relied on their own home-grown talent. The future is now. They are undefeated so far this year.

It wouldn’t be Mexican Futbol without a rash of coach firings, and this season is no exception.

Puebla’s front office is one of the most ignominious in all of sport, much less Mexican Futbol. Anyone who takes that gig does so at their own peril. The latest victim is Jose Luis Trejo, who was canned today. Daniel Brailovsky got the heave ho after a winless and goalless start to Necaxa’s season. And America sent Manuel Lapuente to an early retirement and replaced him with their greatest player, Carlos Reinoso. They ran off three wins in a row.

Then they played Necaxa.

It has to be hard for the players in these intra-Televisa games because whatever result is attained will be looked at, for better or worse, in a suspicious air. This time, Necaxa scored their first goal of the season and it stood. America did little to try and equalize and ultimately resorted to dives in the box hoping to fool the referee. The 3 points gave Necaxa a little hope in their relegation fight, at the expense of a sister franchise who could afford to lose. Which, coincidentally was the same situation America and San Luis were in a few games ago. The desperate team got the win. Go figure.

Why do I always feel the need to take a shower after a Televisa Derby?