Liga MX: Three takeaways from Matchday 2

Emanuel Montejano celebrates after scoring for the Pumas on his Liga MX debut. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Emanuel Montejano celebrates after scoring for the Pumas on his Liga MX debut. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Goals were at a premium in Matchday 2 as Liga MX clubs broke out their defensive kits. Well … that and some rather uninspired offensive performances saw scoring dip dramatically, down from 21 goals on Matchday 1 to just 11 this weekend, helped along by two scoreless draws.

Fortunately, there were a few things to talk about. So without further ado, here are three notable tid-bits to take away from the second round of games in the Guardianes 2021.

1. UNAM might have found a gem

The Pumas boast the youngest roster in Liga MX (24.8 years) and their Kiddie Corps was quite impressive against the league’s oldest club, Mazatlán FC (30.1 years) in a 3-0 rout at home.

Coach Andrés Lillini included four Pumas products in his starting line-up: right back Alan Mozo (23), left back Jerónimo Rodríguez (21), midfielder Erik Lira (20), and right winger Carlos Gutiérrez (21).

The Pumas struck early, taking the lead in minute 11 when Facundo Waller blasted home a pass from Mozo. But then Emanuel Montejano, 19, was forced into action because striker Juan Ignacio Dinenno pulled up lame before 20 minutes had transpired.

Montejano memorialized his Liga MX debut by contributing an assist on Gutiérrez’s goal in minute 61 and then doubled down with a goal of his own.

Lillini inserted another home-grown boy in minute 80, subbing in Angel García (20) a week after he made his own Liga MX debut.

UNAM long had a reputation as a club that developed its own talent, but few veritable stars have been produced in the past decade. Only last week, Universal Deportes columnist Gerardo Melín lamented the lack of forwards coming out of the Pumas academy, recalling big stars like Hugo Sánchez (debut in 1976), Luis García (1986) and Jesús Olalde (1993). The only in-house forwards of note over the past 10 years, Eduardo Herrera and David Izazola, failed to make much of a splash in Liga MX.

Now, we’re not saying Montejano solves this problem, but he might get a chance to showcase his talent because Dinenno – the team’s leading scorer last season – is expected to miss at least three weeks with a thigh strain. We’ll be eager to see if Lillini puts his trust in the teenager who also scored in his November debut with Pumas Tabasco in the Liga de Expansión MX, Mexico’s second division.

2. The Cementeros have fallen and they can’t get up

Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez did not start in Cruz Azul’s loss to Puebla Saturday night and now we’ve learned that he could be on the way out.

Following the Cementeros’ playoff collapse and the resignation of coach Robert Siboldi last month, Rodríguez made it clear he is not happy at the club. He has reportedly been acting out, and the last straw for management was a video of “Cabecita” at a party in violation of pandemic protocols.

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To make matters worse, it is believed the incident occurred the night before the match against Puebla and “Cabecita” was wearing official team gear with booze aplenty in the images.

As “punishment,” Rodríguez was held out of the starting line-up on Saturday, though he came on to start the second half. The front office insists that sanctions of some kind will be forthcoming.

Back-up striker Milton Caraglio was sold off to Atlas last week, but GM Jaime Ordiales is said to be considering an offer for “Cabecita” from a club in China. This could be a stab at addition by subtraction by eliminating locker room discontent, but “Cabecita” was the top scorer in Liga MX last season (12 goals). As such, the Cementeros will be looking to youngster Santiago Giménez for production.

“La Máquina Celeste” is off to an 0-0-2 start and the Cementeros appear to be playing without spirit, still shaken from the stunning 4-0 loss in the semifinals. Coach Juan Reynoso better figure out a way to get results, and quick (starting next Monday at Pachuca) or he might not make it to the end of the Guardianes 2021.

3. Liga MX hit by penalty kick yips

On the first weekend of the season, Liga MX players went 3 and 1 from the penalty spot, with Chivas skipper Jesús Molina the lone culprit from “los once pasos.”

It was markedly different on Matchday 2 as designated penalty takers converted only 2 of 4 “freebies.”

For the second game in a row, Monterrey striker Rogelio Funes Mori converted a penalty while Necaxa’s Ian González stroked it home in minute 90 to put the Rayos up 1-0.

Necaxa should have been forced to settle for a draw, but deep into injury time Pablo Barrera squandered the equalizer for Atlético de San Luis, sending his penalty shot into Row Z.

In Friday night’s Border Battle, FC Juárez’s “goleador” Darío Lezcano banged his spot kick off the crossbar and the Bravos settled for a 0-0 tie against visiting Tijuana.

The third member of the Liga MX Hall of Shame is Tigres newcomer Carlos González who flubbed a chance to put his club up 1-0 in minute 36 only to watch Santos keeper Carlos Acevedo play the hero with a lunging save.

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Querétaro striker Hugo Silveira joined the ignominious list on Sunday night when he telegraphed his penalty kick and Atlas goalie Camilo Vargas smothered it rather easily.

So, after two rounds of games, the penalty kick tally is a very modest 5 of 10.