If there was ever certainty about Mexican futbol, it is that nothing is ever certain. And as we head into the second half of the 2011 Clausura, trending topics that are scorching hot right now may well burn out into insignificance.
But why should that stop us from discussing what has happened in the first half of the season? Despite the very topsy turvy nature of the league, (e.g. Atlas started unbelievably well, but has only won once in their last six games) some intriguing storylines have emerged and are worth keeping on the radar as the Clausura heads for its culmination later this spring.
Martin Bravo, Pumas. The Argentine picked up the scoring slack when Juan Carlos Cacho went down injured. His coach gave him the opportunity to expand and vary his role on the pitch. Bravo has harnessed his strength, speed, and accuracy to become one of the best forwards in the league, and is a huge reason why Pumas are off to one their best starts in their storied history.
Angel Reyna, America. A lot was expected from the Club America Academy graduate after he helped save San Luis from the drop 5 years ago. But his wild inconsistency since had prevented him from becoming a super-star. The mid-fielder seems to have finally found his stride under his swashbuckling new coach, Carlos Reinoso, he has become the catalyst for America’s re-emergence into the MFL title discussions.
Coach of the year
Tomas Boy, Morelia. The season could not have started worse for “el jefe” and his purepecha squad as they were humiliated by Atlas (Atlas!), 5-0, in the season’s first game. Boy knew his team was better than that and made sure that the Atlas loss beat did not beat his team over and over again. His troops have responded by not losing since that match day 1 debacle, tallying the most goals in the tournament so far. Morelia are now in second place in the standings and host Pumas this weekend in the biggest match of the season to date.
Necaxa. It looked like curtains for the hydrorayos a month ago. 4 straight losses and 0 goals scored spelled impending relegation. Not only have they not lost since, they also have turned in 4 clean sheets to chalk up 11 golden points. If they can match the 11 points in the second half, Queretaro has to match it, or they will drop. What was shaping up to be an anti-climactic salvation fight now looks like will go the distance.
Tigres. Tigres' start has the fan base stoked. 4,000 of them bused to Guadalajara to see their beloved team play Chivas. Tuca's men are living up to their billing and payroll.
Queretaro. Only of because of the fact that they missed not one, but two penalties against Monterrey. They lost 2-0. If they do end up descending, those two misses loom extra large.
Pachuca. The so-called Equipo de Mexico has been an unqualified disaster. The house that Jesus Martinez built now includes a coaching turnstile and a secret compartment where their offensive output is hiding.
Toluca. The perennial contenders have completely cratered. They went out like lambs to Monterrey in the Concachampions and gave up the most goals at home in their history to Morelia, a 6-1 wipeout. And that was after giving up another 7 goals in the two previous games.
Santos. Since firing their coach, Santos Laguna have lost 4 straight. How’s that working out for you?
Same ol’ Same ol’
Atlas. Their quick start fooled no one, and have since fallen back into form with only one win in their last 6 games.
Cruz Azul. La maquina keeps humming along. Will they finally walk down the aisle? Or will they add another bridesmaid dress to their trophy case?
2nd half Storyline
Chivas. They have been playing all their youngsters with limited success. At some point, and it may not be this season, the light will come on. When it does, look out.
Queretaro says adios to the top flight, by one point, the point they would have earned by knocking in those two penalties.
A Pumas-America final is very possible. But the #1 seed curse and America’s mica thin defense may say otherwise.