With all the international tournaments that seemed to have flowed seamlessly into one another this summer, it was easy to forget that the Mexican Apertura starts this weekend.
And once again, who the hell knows what is going to happen this year.
Last season’s champs, UNAM, sent longtime Puma, Leandro, up north to Tijuana. His partner in the middle, Israel Castro, will now be linking up with his National team counterpart, Gerardo Torrado, at Cruz Azul. With uncertainty in the most important part of the pitch, Pumas might struggle at first, but they are going to look damn good doing it.
Club America did what they normally do. Throw money at a problem. They plunked down a record 10MM for striker, Chucho Benitez, from Santos. Unfortunately for them, their problem isn’t scoring goals, it is preventing them. But what would you expect from a club whose choice for President is justified by the fact he took a course at the Johan Cruyff institute.
Chivas has so many good, young, players, they ceded a whole bunch of them to Queretaro, who will be trying yet again to fend off relegation. Meanwhile, Guadalajara look to have a great foundation from which to try and improve on last season’s semifinal run.
Some teams like Chivas used the draft to get some of their players more playing time. Other teams use it to rebuild their squad. Pachuca picked up more than a dozen new faces. Puebla did them one better and got nearly 20. And then added DaMarcus Beasley for good measure. When a team hs trouble meeting the payroll, I guess a good way to deal with it is to bring in a whole new slate of players.
Last season’s table topper, Tigres, was unusually quiet in the off-season. They did manage to sign the supremely talented, but somewhat immature Edgar Pacheco. Their crosstown rivals, Monterrey, think they got themselves a big fish in bringing back Chelito Delgado from Lyon. But one has to wonder how much the Argentine has left to give. And he has already complained about the turf at the Tec. Stay tuned.
The new kids, Xolos de Tijuana, look anything but a recently promoted squad. A lot clubs that make the jump are so desperate for cash that they rent ridiculous amounts of space on their unis. Xolos’ duds have a dearth of sponsors. Cash-strapped newbies usually only have budget for the untested, the burnouts, or neither. Xolos brought in plenty hired guns, none more ballyhooed than Colombian Dayro Moreno. They don’t just want to stay promoted, they have liguilla aspirations.
One team to keep an eye on is Estudiantes Tecos. They also went on a bender in the off-season and picked up some crafty veterans, including Rodrigo Ruiz and Braulio Luna. And, of course, have the most colorful coach in the league, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola. Sola is also reunited with Hercules Gomez, who had his best MFL season with Chelis as his coach.
As is normally the case in the wild and wooly Mexican Primera, picking a winner before the season is a fool’s errand. This fool, then, thinks that Chivas will take the big step and win their 12th title.
If you would like a more in depth team-by-team look at the Mexican Primera (and in English), I invite you to take a look at FMF State of mind, who have done a great job of breaking down each team.