Gather round Lads, grab a pint of your favorite drink, pull up a chair and join us for another segment of the gentlemen’s agreement. In this installment CantinaMX (podcast) Host John Jagou and FMN’s very own Joel E. Aceves discuss start of Liga MX Clausura 2017 season.
John Jagou: Joel, 2 weeks in to LigaMX and some early patterns are starting to take shape. If they happen next week, we will have some five-alarm trends. Chivas has had sparks of offense that should make the rest if the league nervous. Pachuca wins again sending Chiapas into relegation hell. Tigres’ pre-season continues, and America’s just started – neither have won. Toluca continues their tradition of finding a striker that meshes instantly. Santos, yes Santos, looks like a much improved team.
Joel Aceves: Yon, you left out your beloved Pumas UNAM. They just got a one-nil win over Cruz Azul who are also looking to improve their fortunes. And what can be say about Xolos demolishing Puebla! This is shaping up to be a very good league one of which I would have preferred to be in long season format. We could very well get to the end of the season with a handful of team’s still fighting for a playoffs spot.
JJ: Those things did indeed happen, but since they happened only this week, I couldn’t well include them in my spiel about patterns. So thanks for that. Nevertheless, Pumas did get a big win over Cruz Azul in front of a very good crowd at CU. The best news from the game came not from the fact that newly signed striker Nico Castillo scored, but how he scored. Pumas has been in desperate need for a play-making striker for years. Castillo showed he can make his own chances, whereas the previous Pumas strikers were finishers and nothing more. For a team that struggles to score, that is huge news.
Chivas, another team that has struggled to find the back of the net, looks like their new pieces are starting to come together as well. It was a shame that the refereeing had a direct effect in the outcome of the game because the striped goats have some players with tantalizing technical skill.
In two games they have shown glimpses of what they can do. And they almost hung on with 9 men. Their latest signing, Rodolfo Pizarro, wants to be there and it shows. Compare that to Gullit, who was a chillón at the thought of being transferred there. He is back at Leon where he got the game-winner. No more tears. But still plenty of beers.
Joely: Speaking of Gullit and beers, he was recently involved in a car crash and was reportedly found to have been drinking. Fortunately for him there were no injuries. And he followed that up by entering the match against Necaxa as a sub and scoring the match winner despite fans chanting borracho!
Pizarro grew up as a Chivista and his family are also big fans of the club. Hes called the transfer a Dream Move which is refreshing as the team has had a hard time striking gold with their big money transfers as of late. So we go from Gullit crying during his presentation at Chivas to a delighted Pizarro who has the potential to propel the team to glory.
JJ: Wanting to play somewhere is half the battle. Gullit is a good player, but he had the sad flute in his heart when he was a goat. Now that he is back in León, he can be a hero, and he was Saturday night getting the late winner off the bench. And he was playing striker. I remember someone, somewhere saying that his best position is striker… oh, that’s right! It was me! While we are one the subject of green teams, one who wears green regularly got a big win, Santos. And another who made their green debut, Club América, lost. It was Lavolpe’s first LigaMX loss at the helm.
Joely: As expected both Liga MX finalists have had a rough start of the season, Tigres has yet to win a match starting the season with a draw at home and following it up with a loss against lowly Atlas. America despite postponing their season opener one week also lost. Making things worse for them is how long it has taken them sign Paraguayan striker Celio Dominguez who just arrived to Coapa two days ago.
So, I expect a bumpy ride for both clubs, particularly Tigres, who should and will focus on the CONCACAF champions cup – they can’t have Rayados lord that over them. As for Ame, I get the feeling that Ricardo Antonio Lavolpe will take the blame for what could be considered a poor season which will be anything less than the league championship.
JJ: Lavolpe’s track record speaks for itself. Aside from the whole “one championship in 30 years” stigma, he just does not stick around clubs all that long. At least not lately. He has already threatened to quit, so it is only a matter of time before he does. Ricardo Peláez better have a list of possible replacements on speed dial because he might need them.
Tigres are notorious for slow starts. And you are correct, the Concachampions will be a priority for them. Coincidentally, the two Apertura finalists play each other this weekend. Neither team can really afford to lose, so a draw is more than likely. Down at the bottom of the table, Monarcas let some vital points escape at Queretaro while Chiapas and Veracruz both lost. Since all three teams have played the same number of games in three seasons, they are all riding the same wave. Only 1 point separates all three teams (although Chiapas has a game in hand). This will be the most riveting story of the Clausura.
Joely: I managed to catch the Veracruz game and el profe Carlos Reinoso has put together a quality squad. His hard fought 2-1 loss against Santos was his 100th game with the club. The Red Sharks should be safe. In any case we will be seeing a new club in first division soon enough and I hope it is an institution that like Pchuca and Xolos are serious of establishing a presence in 1st Division
JJ: You can add Leon and Necaxa to that list, which sits very well with the traditionalist in me. There is something romantic about seeing historic teams make it back up to the top flight.
Tampico’s Jaiba Brava is another traditional side that is making a major investment in personnel to claw their way back up to first division. And we can’t forget about Atlante.
One quick note about Carlos Reinoso. Our younger readers may not know, but he just might be the best foreign player to have played in Liga MX. I find it a little misleading when folks publish lists showing how many foreign coaches there are in the league. Is Tuca Brazilian? Reinoso Chilean? Lavolpe Argentine? Yes, but they are all also Liga MX lifers. But that doesn’t fit the narrative those that cover league have been fronting for years.
Joely: Out of the last 9 league championships 8 winners have been foreign born coaches. While I do consider Tuca and Lavolpe made in Mexico it is still alarming how far back the current crop of coaches have fallen. This is a big reason I back coaches like Jose Manuel de la Torre and Francisco Palencia to succeed. I don’t have anything against bringing in foreign coaches but the more local talent we polish the more chances we will have of getting our very own Diego Simeone or Pep Guardiola.
JJ: And there are not that many ex-players taking the coach career path either. Off the top of my head, Ramoncito and Chiquis are two current assistants that will probably be coaching in Liga MX someday. A staggering number, however, have made it to TV as announcers or pundits. Time for you to get your certification, Joel. Just pass the class at the Cruyff institute and you too can even be a Liga MX coach or even general manager.
Joely: Well Yon, if I could be involved in footy I would prefer to be a General Manager. Always like long term planning and followed the careers of Nestor de la Torre and Ricardo Pelaez. There is also Andres Fassi at Pachuca, although he is listed as vice president he has overseen their team infrastructure projects.
JJ: You can be right there with them all. Club America made a guy President because of his Cruyff diploma. Then you would really know what it means to have a “gentlemen’s agreement.”
Joely: Would you be talking about Michel Bauer, he is regarded as one of the worst Club America presidents of all time. They even fiddled with relegation under his watch. I am quite sure this was also used for inspiration for Club de Cuervos protagonist Salvador ‘Chava’ Iglesias Jr.
JJ: A proud Cruyff graduate, he was. Thanks to him, the bar is set pretty low. I know you can do better. Just show them our previous editions of this column. You would surely be accepted. But if you are worried about rejection, just change your last name to de la Torre.
Joely: Joely de la Torre. It rolls of the tongue nicely and can open some doors for me.
JJ: Just remember the little people on your way up to the top. I hope you have plenty of godsons – they will be your player pool.
Joely: I will update you next week.
JJ: Hasta entonces.