With the Apertura 2021 on hold for the September FIFA break – and 7 of 17 Liga MX matchdays already in the books – now’s a decent time to clean up some loose threads.
Primarily, I’ll riff a little bit on player movement, personnel decisions and other Liga MX miscelanny. Most of the 18 clubs have finished assembling their teams though a few are tweaking the back end of their rosters (like América, which has two open “foreign player” slots it could still fill, a dilemma that has them weighing several options).
Liga MX regs establish Sept. 22 as the date on which player registration comes to a close so there is still time for last-gasp transactions, should an injury issue arise, for instance.
With that in mind, here are some observations, starting with the evolution of the former Ascenso MX fútbol league.
From Liga de Expansión to Liga MX
One of the Mexican Soccer Federation’s main goals when it replaced the second division Ascenso MX with the new Liga de Expansión MX back in summer 2020 was to open a pathway from lower division teams onto Liga MX rosters. The idea was to establish the “new” league as a developmental league.
A year later, it appears that the pandemic-related fiscal considerations that tightened Liga MX clubs’ pocket books have contributed to the creation of just such a pipeline.
At least a dozen players who plied their trade in Liga de Expansión MX last season are now wearing Liga MX jerseys. Here are a few notables (with their former team in parentheses).
Necaxa signed Luis García (Atlante) and Brian García (Cimarrones). The former scored the game-winner against FC Juárez on Matchday 6 and then scored again on Matchday 7, while the latter has earned a starting spot at right fullback.
The Pumas promoted defender Arturo Ortiz (Pumas Tabasco) who debuted in Liga MX way back in 2013 but has been toiling in second division the past seven years. Coach Andrés Lillini has inserted the 29-year-old journeyman into the starting line-up and he has looked steady. The Pumas also picked up Octavio Paz (Tlaxcala).
Atlético de San Luis signed Jair Díaz (Venados), a 23-year-old defender from the Tigres system who spent three seasons in Mérida where he scored 4 goals in 36 games. The Tuneros also inked goalie Andrés Sánchez (Tepa), William Mejía (Morelia) and Vladimir Moragrega (Atlante). Sánchez has started three games between the pipes, but Mejía and Moragrega have yet to see the field in a regular-season match.
Querétaro is taking a chance on winger Pablo Gómez (Atlante) who has made four appearances thus far and back-up goalie Ricardo Díaz (Dorados), while Pachuca recruited Angel Estrada (Cimarrones). The Chivas scooped up Pavel Pérez (Tepa) and he made his first division debut against FC Juárez on Matchday 3.
So while there are no real break-out stars, and a couple of the above-mentioned players are not Mexican, this could be the start of something.