Liga MX: Aguirre-Solari duel headlines Matchday 2

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Liga MX Matchday 2

Rogelio Funes Mori, left, will be the focus of América’s defense in Saturday’s match-up. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

Monterrey hosts América in Apertura 19 title Liga MX rematch

The two most important acquisitions heading into the new Liga MX season will not score a goal. Neither of these two men will collect an assist or record a save. Yet this dynamic duo could be the most influential difference-makers in the Guardianes 2021.

Legendary Mexican coach Javier “El Vasco” Aguirre – two-time World Cup manager – was hired by Monterrey, while América filled its managerial vacancy by bringing in former Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari.

Aguirre and Solari will match wits at Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Monterrey on Saturday night, but the TV cameras won’t seek them out to the detriment of the 90 minutes of action on the pitch. But have no doubt: “El Vasco” and Solari will be the focus of post-game commentary.

The Rayados are trying to rid themselves of the stench of a lousy year that saw them set a record for ineptitude AND lose a first-round playoff match-up to a No. 12 seed. This on the heels of a trophy-rich 2019 (Liga MX and Concacaf Champions League titles).

Monterrey then made history by opening their title defense by going 0-5-5 in the Clausura 2020, no doubt grateful when that season was canceled. The ensuing Guardianes 2020 was unsatisfactory considering the Rayados boast the highest payroll in Liga MX.

A mediocre 8-5-4 record earned a No. 5 seed and a wildcard date with the lowest seed, Puebla. With just one-third the wages of Monterrey, the Camoteros knocked out the heavy favorites on penalty kicks.

Antonio Mohamed was quickly pink-slipped to nobody’s surprise, but when Aguirre was announced as the new coach there were audible gasps across the Mexican soccer landscape. The no-nonsense “El Vasco” is expected to straighten up the talented, but mercurial roster.

Aguirre will have his first real test at home this weekend against a deep América squad in a match-up that could recur deep into the playoffs. For their part, the Aguilas have not won a trophy since July 2019 (Liga MX Champions Cup) and that alone is enough to get a coach fired there. Add in Miguel Herrera’s penchant for causing controversy and it was a relatively easy decision for the front office to dismiss the manager.

The hiring of Solari caught the sporting press by surprise but the cachet of a link to Real Madrid excited the club’s base. The young Argentine does not have a long coaching résumé, but his familiarity with Liga MX (Solari played a year in Liga MX with Atlante) encouraged the front office to bet on his development.

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