Forward Humberto Suazo and Los Rayados de Monterrey will start their season against the dangerous Club America. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
It's time for another post to get you, the Dynamo faithful, out of your comfort zone, and into some Mexican soccer talk. I hope you have been enjoying this addition to the Dynamo Theory website, and I've sparked an interest in following some of the teams south of the border. Over the last three weeks we've talked about the history of the league, the name change, offseason moves, team previews, and some predictions. With the start of the season Friday, this week Ordinary Orange Fan Talks Mexican will get right down to business and discuss the new logo and themeof Liga MX, preview the can't miss matches of opening weekend, and finish off the team previews with the final six clubs.
New Logo and Theme Revealed
Yesterday, the Mexican Football Federation unveiled more details of the completely revamped Mexican league. "Siente tu Liga" is the official theme, which translates to Feel Your League. At the World Trade Center in Mexico City, the first and second division clubs were represented by the team president, coach, the captain of the team, and accompanied by a fan of each club. The league covered their code of ethics, played the new anthem for the league, and unveiled the highly anticipated logos for the first division (Liga MX), the second division (Acenso MX), and the Torneo de Copa MX (Copa Mexico).
Here are the new logos for each competition. It's quite a contrast from previous logos and so far have been received with mixed reviews by fans. I like the new changes (especially the Copa MX) and think any time something is rebranded, it makes for exciting times.
New Season Has Arrived - Friday is First Kick
While most of us will be glued to our orange seats on Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium watching the Dynamo take on the Montreal Impact, there is always enough time for more soccer (thanks in part to DVR). The Apertura 2012 is set to kick off Friday with two games, continue Saturday with five games, and conclude Sunday with two.
Let's take a look at the schedule for the first of 17 weeks of Liga MX action.
Opening Weekend Matches
- Friday (7/20): Tigres at Jaguares, 7:30 pm
- Friday (7/20): Puebla at Tijuana, 9:30 pm
- Saturday (7/21): Morelia at Cruz Azul, 5:00 pm
- Saturday (7/21): Leon at Queretaro, 5:00 pm
- Saturday (7/21): San Luis at Santos, 7:00 pm
- Saturday (7/21): America at Monterrey, 7:00 pm
- Saturday (7/21): Pumas at Atlas, 9:00 pm
- Sunday (7/22): Chivas at Toluca, 12:00 pm
- Sunday (7/22): Pachuca at Atlante, 6:00 pm
Take a look inside for three games I would keep and eye on, and the final six team previews for the upcoming season.
3 Games To Watch and Why...
Something new... Atlante vs Pachuca
Atlante isn't making any headlines this year in Mexican soccer, but their opponents have been completely retooled with big name players and coaches. Mexican legend Hugo Sanchez is the new coach and has brought in three big dollar transfers. With the money Pachuca has spent this offseason, Sanchez and Los Tuzos will have high expectations from first kick.
Relegation battle... Queretaro vs Leon
These two clubs will surely be battling at the end of the next short season to stay in the first division. Leon appears to be the much stonger team on paper and many believe could be a mid table team. Queretaro on the other hand have not made many impressive moves aside from bringing back goal scorer Carlos Bueno. Queretaro and Leon will both need to collect points early in the year and would like to start here.
Game of the Week... Monterrey vs America
First of all, these two teams are two of the best in Mexico and never seem to disappoint when they face each other. Add in a trio of the best strikers in Mexico as America's Christian Benitez, Monterrey's Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Nigris all will be on the same pitch. If that doesn't make the game exciting enough, Americanistas will surely remember being knocked out of the most recent liguilla by Monterrey who went on to play for the championship against Santos. No other game this week features the star power of these two Mexican giants who will face each other in the Estadio Tecnologico.
Those are just three games you will want to keep an eye on for varying factors. Rather than just watch the "big four" clubs each week, I would recommend getting to know as many clubs as possible.. you never know who you may find yourself relating to or enjoying their style of play. Regardless of what team is on the field, each one has players capable of capturing not only your attention, but the scoring title as well.
Here's the final 6 teams in our Apertura preview.
San LuisLast Season: 12 points, 16th overall, DNQ for the liguilla
Biggest Addition and/or Loss: Loss of Alfredo Moreno
Apertura Outlook: San Luis struggled all year and based on their moves in the offseason, I think they'll repeat the struggles. Proven goal scorer Moreno has moved on to Tijuana and they've brought in a couple young forwards that will have to really work hard to improve San Luis' chances of success.
Santos LagunaLast Season: 36 points, 1st overall, current champions
Biggest Addition and/or Loss: Addition of Gerardo Lugo
Apertura Outlook: Santos added a solid midfielder in Lugo and didn't lose much of their championship team and they should contend for the crown again. Santos boasts one of the best strikers in Mexico in Oribe Peralta who is coming into his own, Herculez Gomez coming off the bench (how nice is that), and Daniel Luduena in midfield.
TijuanaLast Season: 28 points, 7th overall, loss to Monterrey in first round of the liguilla
Biggest Addition and/or Loss: Addition of Alfredo Moreno
Apertura Outlook: Tijuana was a surprise last season, not only for finishing 7th overall, but they gave Monterrey all they could handle in the liguilla. Moreno was added in hopes of replacing the lost goals of Jose Sand. He has proven capable of scoring in the past, but age will be a question. I think they will be in a similar place this year, fighting for one of the last playoff spots.
TolucaLast Season: 22 points, 11th overall, DNQ for the liguilla
Biggest Addition and/or Loss: Addition of coach Enrique Meza and loss of Ivan Alonso
Apertura Outlook: The unexpected loss of Ivan Alonso due to health concerns will be a tough hole to fill. Alonso was last season's leading goalscorer. The biggest addition is Edgar Benitez who is coming back to Mexico after a stint in his native Paraguay. He would have been a nice addition along side Alonso, but now will be relied upon as primary goalscorer. They've brought in one of the best Mexican coaches in Enrique Meza to turn things around. Another key loss was Argentine midfielder Martin Romagnoli, but Toluca brought in a couple of Brazilians to help fill that hole. Meza usually brings the best out of his players and I can see Toluca squeezing in the liguilla this year or finding themselves right on the outside.
Tigres UANLLast Season: 31 points, 5th overall, lost to Santos in liguilla semifinals
Biggest Addition and/or Loss: Loss of Hector Mancilla
Apertura Outlook: Tigres have been a consistent team in Mexico recently, but they haven't really brought in any players to replace the loss of Mancilla. This is a Tigres team that only lost to eventual champions Santos Laguna because they tied in aggregate goals. Tigres may not have the same performance as last season, but they're still a playoff team and very capable of winning everything.
Pumas UNAMLast Season: 16 points, 14th overall, DNQ for liguilla
Biggest Addition and/or Loss: Addition of Luis Garcia and Emanuel Villa
Apertura Outlook: Pumas were another team full of surprises during the offseason. They are a team that usually focuses on development of younger talent in their ranks, not purchasing experienced players. Villa along with Garcia and Martin Bravo (whose contract was renewed) will create a dangerous group of scorers. Mexican National Team midfielder Javier Cortes will continue to improve and solidify their midfield. Add in the return of defender Dario Veron from injury and the Pumas suddenly appear to have all the right pieces. On paper, they may have one of the top three teams in Mexico and I would expect them to become contenders again this year.