Deep inside the sports pages, past the Messi, Mbappe and World Cup coverage, you might find some mention of Mexican soccer. That’s what we’ll look at here in the next few days as we attempt to bridge the gap between the exciting conclusion in Qatar and the new Liga MX season that begins on Jan. 6.
There have been quite a few transactions though none of the earth-shaking variety but we have time to fill you in on roster-shuffling as we get closer to the Liga MX kick-off.
For now, we’ll catch up the Copa por México preseason tournament that is giving 10 teams a great leg up on the other eight league rivals heading into the Clausura 2023.
So far, eight of the 20 round-robin games have been played and tonight we’ve got América-Toluca and Chivas-Santos on tap.
Liga MX rivalries on tap
Though the hardware handed out to the eventual winner might look decent in the club’s trophy case, the greater benefit of the tournament will be the chance to evaluate players in a semi-official format.
Though still just an exhibition, the rivalry games will heighten intensity and the schedule (five games for each team followed by the championship match) will permit coaches to test their entire rosters, particularly the youngsters.
This will allow new coaches – and five of the 10 teams are sporting new coaches – to familiarize themselves with their players and more effectively install their tactical ideas.
Already, we’ve had one coach face his old team (Diego Cocca led his new squad, Tigres, past his old club, Atlas, on Friday) and Tuesday night we’ll see Necaxa’s boss Andrés Lillini take on the team that fired him in October, UNAM.
Then on Friday, we’ll get a “Clásico Capitalino” when América and UNAM square off at the CU while Dec. 27 offers up two Liga MX “Classics”: first up is Mexico City’s Junior Classic – América-Cruz Azul – and later Atlas and Guadalajara will tangle in a preseason “Clásico Tapatío” at the Estadio Jalisco.
Cruz Azul, Tigres on top near mid-point of Copa por México
The tournament opened with five straight ties – three of them scoreless draws – before Cruz Azul emerged victorious in a match against crosstown rivals UNAM when academy product Rodrigo Cruz notched the winner in minute 68.
At 18, Cruz is unlikely to earn a permanent spot on the Cementeros’ senior roster, but he could potentially make his Liga MX debut this season. No doubt, coach Raúl Gutiérrez will give the local kid a few more chances in this tournament.
The Chivas then posted a 1-0 win over Mazatlán FC after which Tigres (and Diego Cocca) edged Atlas by the same score.
Guadalajara will have a chance to leapfrog Tigres atop Group B tonight in their old stadium Estadio Jalisco in the night cap. The matchday opens in Toluca where América will get a chance to avenge their elimination in the Liga MX playoffs at the hands of the host Diablos Rojos.
Check back tomorrow as we’ll take a closer look at developments in this winter Cup tournament as well as the teams, players and coaches taking part.