Liga MX, MLS All-Stars take center stage

Liga MX All-Stars celebrate after winning the Crossbar Challenge during the 2021 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge at Banc of California Stadium Tuesday night. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Liga MX All-Stars celebrate after winning the Crossbar Challenge during the 2021 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge at Banc of California Stadium Tuesday night. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
Liga MX, MLS all-stars
Cruz Azul’s Juan Reynoso will manage the Liga MX All-Stars in the inaugural MLS-Liga MX All-Star extravaganza. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The first-ever Liga MX-MLS All-Star Game is hours away from kick-off, shifting the media spotlight away from breaking news at the national team level.

It will be interesting to see how the media – on both sides of the border – interprets the events at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Talk of bragging rights is somewhat overblown, though pride will no doubt play a role in the outcome of tonight’s game, as it appeared to during Tuesday night’s All-Star Skills Challenge.

Or not.

Coming as it does in the early stages of a disjointed Liga MX season (34 Mexicans on national team duty missed out on the opening weeks of the Apertura 2021 campaign, some unavailable for the first four games), few players are in top form. Rubens Sambueza is the exception as the 37-year-old vet boasts 3 goals and a league-leading 4 assists through six games.

The MLS, on the other hand, is well into the second half of the 2021 season and most clubs have at least 20 games at their back.

MLS All-Stars out-earn Liga MX rivals

It might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that the MLS All-Stars boast a higher payroll than the Liga MX roster. The comparative wage packages of the 26 players on each roster are $147.5 million dollars for MLS and $134.5 million dollars for Liga MX.

LAFC forward Diego Rossi owns the highest salary of any player featuring in Wednesday night’s game. The 23-year-old Uruguayan has a contract earning him $22.2 million dollars.

Former Tigres star Lucas Zelarayán (now with Columbus Crew) and Argentine midfielder Emanuel Reynoso show up next on the list of top All-Star wages at $12.3 million.

The four highest-paid players on the “Mexican” side earn $9.8 million dollars: Santos sparkplug Fernando Gorriarán and the Cruz Azul threesome of Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez, Luis Romo and Orbelín Pineda.

Former Morelia Monarca Raúl Ruidiaz (now with the Seattle Sounders) also earns $9.8 million dollars.

Liga MX line-up

Cruz Azul coach Juan Reynoso will be pulling the strings for Liga MX, his reward for leading the Cementeros to the Guardianes 2021 title.

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The roster changed somewhat from that originally announced a month ago thanks to injuries. Among those missing out are Cruz Azul goalie Jesús Corona, Tigres striker André-Pierre Gignac, León skipper Luis Montes, Tigres midfielder Guido Pizarro and León fullback Fernando Navarro.

The replacements for the game include Tigres netminder Nahuel Guzmán, América defender Jorge Sánchez, Cruz Azul midfielder Orbelín Pineda, Puebla midfielder Javier Salas, Chivas forward Alexis Vega and Cruz Azul forward Santiago Giménez

Here are the players at Reynoso’s disposal:

Goalkeepers: Alfredo Talavera (Pumas), Guillermo Ochoa (América), Nahuel Guzmán (Tigres)

Defenders: William Tesillo (León), Matheus Dória (Santos), Víctor Guzmán (Tijuana), Salvador Reyes (América), Pablo Aguilar (Cruz Azul), César Montes (Monterrey), Juan Escobar (Cruz Azul), Kevin Álvarez (Pachuca), Jorge Sánchez (América)

Midfielders: Rubens Sambueza (Toluca), Fernando Gorriarán (Santos), Luis Romo (Cruz Azul), Pedro Aquino (América), Ángel Mena (León), Diego Valdés (Santos), Erik Lira (Pumas), Orbelín Pineda (Cruz Azul), Javier Salas (Puebla)

Strikers: Jonathan Rodríguez (Cruz Azul), Alexis Canelo (Toluca), Nicolás Ibánez (Pachuca), Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey), Santiago Giménez (Cruz Azul), Alexis Vega (Chivas)

Defending Liga MX champion Cruz Azul leads the way with six All-Stars, followed by league-leading América (four), while three Santos players are on hand.

León, Toluca, Monterrey, Pachuca and the Pumas are supplying two players to the Liga MX roster while the Tigres, the Chivas, Puebla and Tijuana each have a single representative on the team.

Potential Liga MX line-up

We are supposing that Reynoso will present a basic 4-3-3 formation with a focus on attacking players. With that in mind, here is a line-up we’d like to see:

Guillermo Ochoa

Juan Escobar           Víctor Guzmán          Matheus Doria   Salvador Reyes

Ángel Mena       Fernando Gorriarán     Rubens Sambueza

Orbelín Pineda    Rogelio Funes Mori    Jonathan Rodríguez

Next. América, Necaxa survive Liga MX Fútbol Frenzy. dark

Kick-off is at 8:30 pm, Mexico City time (central daylight time in the United States).