Top 3 Stories From First Week of Clausura 2014

There were 3 stories that stuck out from the first week in Liga MX
by Brendan Doherty   |   Friday, January 10, 2014

 MEX Matters - column on Liga MX, El Tri & Mexican futbol.

Eight of the 9 matches in Jornada 1 were draws or 1-goal wins, with Club America bucking the trend. Chivas de Guadalajara appeared to have sorted out its instability before falling back to poor form. U.S. national team fans caught the last-minute comeback of DaMarcus Beasley's Puebla FC

America starts strong

Club América surely wanted to hit the ground running in the Clausura to ensure a smooth transition from Miguel “Piojo” Herrera's success regime to Antonio “Turco” Mohammed. The former Tijuana boss could not have been happier with the 3-0 win that las Águilas posted over visiting Tigres.

América's recent signings for this torneo are Pablo Aguilar (26), a Paraguayan central defender who played under Turco at Tijuana, and Andrés Ríos (24), an Argentine forward who paid off the remainder of his contract at River Plate in order to move to Mexico. The 2 players weren't available for week 1 as they weren't formally introduced to fans and the media until Wednesday Jan. 8. Each player takes up 1 of the 5 international roster spots available to teams in Liga MX but América gets each player at a strong point in his career.

The suspension to Francisco "Maza" Rodríguez for his red card in the Apertura Liguilla final will open up the opportunity for Pablo Aguilar to compete with Adrián Aldrete for a starting spot in the 3-man central defense alongside Juan Carlos “Topo” Valenzuela and captain Aquivaldo Mosquera.

Rojiblancos settle

The red and white striped flock of Chivas de Guadalajara has had plenty of reasons to be red in the face in recent years. After a dramatic fire-sale of the recent Apertura's starting lineup, this past weekend's season opener away to Santos Laguna could have gone very badly for the Goats. An early goal from Omar Bravo, who had scored 108 goals in 299 previous appearances with the club, only set the team up for disappointing draw after a second half own-goal.

Consistency is a huge need for a team that played in 8 different lineups across 17 games in the Apertura. Omar Bravo is a risky bet for Chivas to rely on for the lion's share of its goalscoring. Bravo has shown an ability to knock in goals, but tends to do so in spurts. If morale at Estadio Omnilife drops like it has in recent seasons and Bravo's scoring dries up, the team will be in dire straits.

Instead of focusing on developing build-up play in midfield, in the past few seasons the various head coaches at the Guadalajara club have simply thrown more forwards onto the field. Against Santos Laguna, José Luis "Guero" Real fielded four strikers for over an hour.

Puebla rescues itself

Going down 2-0 to a team that only scored 8 goals in all of the 17 matches of the Apertura seemed like classic Puebla FC. Despite creating chances, Puebla didn't get into gear until stoppage time when Argentine Matías Alustiza scored a goal and drew a penalty to tie the game at 2-2.

If Puebla are going to put room between the club and the drop-zone, they are currently sitting in 16th of the 18 teams in the relegation table, they need to muster more away results like the game against UNAM Pumas. La Franja can't expect to depend on luck in stoppage time, though, as the team failed to make an impact during the first 90 minutes despite ending the game with 19 shots and 8 on target.

DaMarcus Beasley played his first game on the season in the center of midfield, which he's done a handful of times before. Beasley's style of play with the national team, bombing up the outside, is very similar to what Puebla expects from him in a wide role, whether that's as a left midfielder or a wing-back. If Rubén Omar Romano likes what he sees from the 31 year old American in the center of the field, how will that affect Beasley's form as a make-shift full back for Jurgen Klinsmann?

The tastiest match-ups on the menu for Jornada 2 are Tijuana hosting former head coach Antonio Mohammed and América, Santos Laguna traveling to Cruz Azul and León with the potential to score several on visiting Atlas.

Brendan DOHERTY

Nationality:
USA
College:
Hamilton College
Club Domestic:
Rochester Rhinos, RBNY
Club Foreign:
Tottenham, Club América
Household Jeopardy champion from a small town in Upstate New York. Simultaneously brought to Tottenham Hotspur by a youth coach & given a copy of FIFA 2004. Enthusiastically pragmatic & a student of the game. Covering the Mexican National Team & Liga MX.
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