News and notes from across the Liga MX landscape

Enrique Meza greets Pachuca fans ahead of an August 2014 Liga MX match. The legendary former coach is a candidate for the Tuzos' GM post. (Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent via Getty Images)
Enrique Meza greets Pachuca fans ahead of an August 2014 Liga MX match. The legendary former coach is a candidate for the Tuzos' GM post. (Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent via Getty Images) /
Liga MX news, notes
Ricardo Ferretti was given a three-match ban after violating the Liga MX anti-discrimination policy. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Mexico’s disastrous November FIFA window is behind us, allowing us to turn our attention back to the Liga MX where Wildcard Weekend is fast approaching.

But before getting to the four match-ups awaiting, let’s take a look at what went on while we were watching El Tri crash and burn.

First, a few quick items. FC Juárez manager Ricardo Ferretti was slapped with a three-game suspension for launching into a homophobic tirade during a press conference following the Bravos’ season-ending loss to the Tigres.

The notoriously crotchety coach was also hit with a hefty fine and warned that any future violations of the league’s anti-discrimination regulations will result in stiffer penalties.

“Ojitos” to make Liga MX return?

Pachuca GM Marco Garcés was sacked for poor results after the Tuzos finished the Apertura 2021 in 15th place with a 4-6-7 despite spending freely during the summer transfer window. My sources suggest Garcés is the fall guy, because all personnel decisions are made by ownership who often overrule the team’s football experts and the scouting department.

Universal Deportes reported that among the top candidates to move into the Pachuca front office is Enrique Meza. “El Ojitos” led the Tuzos to the Clausura 2007 Liga MX title, helming the franchise during its glorious 2006-2008 trophy-rich era during which the club won the Copa Sudamericana, the North American Super Cup and two Concacaf Champions Cups.

Meza won three other Liga MX championships (with Toluca) during his 37-year coaching career, though he has never held a front-office position before.

Aguilas furious with Peru

This week América revealed that midfield linchpin Pedro Aquino has been lost for the season after he was injured during a South American World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Liga MX news, notes
América midfielder Pedro Aquino is stretchered off the field during his club’s Oct. 23 match against the Tigres. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Aquino suffered a leg injury last month and was held out of the Aguilas last three Liga MX contests while also missing the Concacaf Champions League final against Monterrey on Oct. 28.

América officials had asked Peru not to summon him during the FIFA break, sharing all his medical data and rehab notes. But Aquino’s presence was requested and the Aguilas had no choice but to let him go.

The feisty midfielder did not play in Peru’s Nov. 11 win over Bolivia, but was brought in as a second-half sub as Peru sought to protect a 2-1 lead over Venezuela on Nov. 16. Aquino lasted just 12 minutes (entering in minute 77 and limping off in minute 89).

América GM Santiago Baños relayed the bad news to reporters, announcing that Aquino would miss the entirety of the Liga MX playoffs. Aquino was América’s bulldog in the middle of the pitch, setting the tone for the Aguilas physical defense which gave up a league-low 10 goals.

Zero tolerance policy, says Liga MX boss

Liga MX president Mikel Arriola spoke out against the reappearance of the reviled homophobic chant that has bedeviled the Mexican Soccer Federation at both the league and national team level.

On Nov. 12, he warned club owners that more stadium bans would be forthcoming if the objectionable action continues, regardless of the status of the team. “We will stick with the protocols (warnings on the public address system, pausing the game, and ejections of offending fans) and we’ll reiterate our intent to stamp this out, but we will hand out discipline if and when necessary,” he said.

The Liga MX Disciplinary Committee sanctioned Cruz Azul with a one-game ban (no fans will be permitted at Sunday’s wildcard match against Monterrey) after two game-stoppages were required when the chant was heard multiple times during the Cementeros’ loss to León at Estadio Azteca on Nov. 3.

This came only days after FIFA slapped a two-game stadium ban on El Tri home games after disruptions during Mexico’s qualifier against Canada on Oct. 7 (also at Estadio Azteca). In contrast to Arriola’s stated commitment to ending the discriminatory shouting, the Mexican Soccer Federation appealed the punishment, once again beclouding its willingness to take real action.

If the two-game ban is upheld, Mexico would play Costa Rica (Jan. 30) and Panama (Feb. 2) in an empty Estadio Azteca.

Cementeros still dreaming of a home

Cruz Azul insists it has not abandoned long-fancied plans to build its own stadium.

Last week, Cementeros CEO Víctor Velázquez told reporters that once the organization finishes straightening out the financial mess left by fugitive ex-team president Guillermo Álvarez, they’ll take up the stadium project again.

Since rising to the First Division in 1964, the Cementeros have lived a rather nomadic existence. They first started playing in Estadio 10 de diciembre in Jasso, Hidalgo, before deciding they needed to play in a bigger venue. So Cruz Azul paid rent to call Estadio Azteca home from 1970-1996.

Next. Final Liga MX Power Rankings. dark

Beginning in summer 1996, “La Máquina” rented Estadio Azul (officially known as Estadio de la Ciudad de los Deportes) and quickly won Liga MX championship No. 8 in December 1997. “The Blue Machine” played next door to the world’s biggest bullring (Plaza de Toros México) for the next 22 years, returning to Estadio Azteca in summer 2018.