Liga MX Full of Surprises

3 headlines from Liga MX that may be surprising but shouldn't be
by Brendan Doherty   |   Thursday, February 20, 2014

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

As the Liga MX season continues, several teams are finding surprising results. Though this is the case with many leagues around the world, this season Liga MX clubs, like Leon, Chivas and Club America, are a head above the rest in turning the league on its side.

León suffers Championship hangover

After breezing to the Apertura 2013 title, Club León has had mixed results in the current season. The reigning champions are sitting in 11th place despite a rather easy 2-0 victory away to Monterrey this past weekend.

Uruguayan manager Gustavo Matosas has told the press that he highly values the Copa Libertadores competition, in which his team is doing quite well with 4 points from 2 games. Not only is León prioritizing the South American tournament over the league, but Liga MX teams now have a better idea of how Matosas's men will play.

Carlos “Gullit” Pena has specifically been targeted by opposition and seems to either control a match or get marked out of the proceedings. Against Atlas in Jornada 2, Pena was without doubt the best player on the field, scoring a sublime 20-yard chip, but since then he has struggled to make much of an impact for León.

If León get a couple more positive results in Copa Libertadores, will Matosas shift focus back to Liga MX in time to make a late playoff run?

América struggles to adapt

Club América changed head coaches over the winter offseason and the team is adapting to life Antonio “Turco” Mohamed.

Why América hasn't been dominant in the Clausura isn't really that simple. Turco is using Piojo's 5-3-2 formation and only slight variations on player roles within that system. While the tactics have been fairly consistent from the Apertura into the thick of the Clausura, personnel and form have not.

Central defensive reinforcement Pablo Aguilar has not yet made his América debut, despite costing the capital club nearly $3 million, which forces Turco to play either Adrian Aldrete, a natural leftback, or Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, who always has a poor tackle in him, in the heart of defense. Argentine forward Andres Rios has only played 132 disappointing minutes across 1 start and 3 substitute appearances while Raul Jimenez has suffered from fluctuating form, leaving Luis Gabriel Rey to carry the load up front.

Rubens Sambueza has been the sole catalyst for América week in, week out. It's no shock that the team struggled to create quality chances in the 2 matches, against Pachuca and at Morelia, for which he was suspended.

When Sambueza returns to the lineup this weekend will he be able to rally Las Aguilas against an on-fire Pumas side at the Azteca?

Chivas improves

It'd be hard to do worse than last season's 16th place finish.

In the recent Apertura 2013, Chivas registered just 2 wins. Before that in the Clausura, the team finished in 17th place with 3 wins. Current manager Jose Luis Real, who coached Chivas USA in 2013, became Chivas de Guadalajara's fourth head coach in that calendar year. The organization failed miserably in its attempt to import a Dutch influence in 2012 by hiring John Van't Schip as coach and Johan Cruyff as a special advisor.

The teams over the past couple years have shown promise before flopping hard and never regaining morale. Fans feared that after house-cleaning that removed a handful of regular starters, this team would also flatter to deceive.

Playing with 4 forwards in something of a 4-2-3-1 (Carlos Fierro, Rafa Marquez Lugo, Omar Bravo and Aldo de Nigris) it's not surprising then that Chivas have had four different goalscorers for its 7 goals so far this season.

After 7 matches Chivas is tied on 12 points with traditional national rival Club América, but there is still plenty of time left for Chivas to flare out yet again and disappoint for another year.

Will this will the year Chivas actually challenges or will its defense falter behind a front line that's only scored twice in one game this year?

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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