Liga MX: Aguirre-Solari duel headlines Matchday 2

Liga MX (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images).
Liga MX (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images). /
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Liga MX Matchday 2
Liga MX Matchday 2 (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Outcome gives winner inside track to high playoff seed

While Aguirre won his Rayados debut last week, Solari was forced to “observe” from the stands in Estadio Azteca since he did not have a work permit. With a temporary visa now in hand, “El Indiecito” will be on the touchline in Monterrey.

“El Vasco” shuffled his pieces around at Estadio Jalisco, using all five of his changes while forced to sideline two big-time veterans – defender Nico Sánchez and winger Dorlan Pabón. Each week, Aguirre will have to deactivate two foreign players as the club has more foreigners than allowed on a Liga MX game-day roster.

Emphasis on tactical discipline and interplay between lines will be the determining factor in who gets playing time, while heightened expectations for Rogelio Funes Mori were fulfilled in the season opener as the striker scored both Monterrey goals.

Coverage in the middle of the pitch is likely to be key throughout the Guardianes 2021 and Aguirre has plenty of options. Carlos Rodríguez and Maxi Meza are capable box-to-box midfielders, while “Poncho” González is a clever playmaker. Matías Kranevitter, Celso Ortiz, and Jonathan González can provide reliable cover in front of the back four.

Up front, “El Vasco” will demand greater efficiency from Vincent Janssen, Avilés Hurtado, Ake Loba, and the aforementioned Pabón who has seen productivity slip each of the past two seasons. Funes Mori has enjoyed great success against América and a solid performance by one or the other forwards could go a long way in determining a preferred line-up for Aguirre the rest of the season.

The opportunity will be there Saturday night as the Aguilas are thin at the back, an issue immediately recognized by the new América coach. Defender Jordan Silva was brought in this week from Tijuana after Solari requested help for the defense, a defense that was saved by goalie Memo Ochoa on Matchday 1 against a weak San Luis attack. Ochoa made 6 saves – several of the spectacular variety – but Solari would prefer the goalie not have to wear a cape for América to win games.

Sebastián Cáceres and youngster Ramón Juárez will have their hands full in central defense, though Solari will have veteran Emanuel Aguilera available Saturday. Also back on the game-day roster will be playmaker Nicolás Benedetti (knee) who can take some pressure off his defensive mates.

Midfield bulldog Pedro Aquino is likely to get his first start at América after contributing the game-winning assist after coming on late. Richard Sánchez might eventually get pushed aside by Aquino, but for now, he’ll provide security in the middle.

Solari has plenty of weapons to tinker with. Newcomer Mauro Lainez scored in his first game as an Aguila while national teamer Sebastián Córdova needed less than 30 minutes to get on the scoreboard, netting the winner in minute 89. Leo Suárez also offers offense from the wing.

Up front, Henry Martín and Federico Viñas will be vying for time while Gio dos Santos seems destined to see playing time shrink unless injuries crop up. I expect this game to be a dogfight and Rayados goalie Hugo González will be eager to show his El Tri teammate Ochoa that he is a worthy successor. I suspect he’ll get the chances to do so.