Liga MX also-rans not wasting any time preparing for next season

Necaxa and FC Juárez finished near the bottom of the Liga MX standings. The Rayos were 17th and the Bravos 16th. (El Paso Times)
Necaxa and FC Juárez finished near the bottom of the Liga MX standings. The Rayos were 17th and the Bravos 16th. (El Paso Times) /
Liga MX also-rans summer
UNAM forward Juan Ignacio Dinenno finished fourth in the Liga MX scoring charts but his team was not so productive as the Pumas completed the Clausura 2023 in 14th place. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) /

The schedule for Wildcard Weekend was announced Wednesday morning but before turning our attention to the upcoming Liga MX playoffs, let’s take a quick look at some of the teams that didn’t qualify for the postseason.

That narrows down the subject matter considerably since only six of the league’s 18 teams came up short.

Next season, the league returns to the normal eight-team playoff system so there will be 10 teams whose playoff dreams will be shattered come November instead of just a half-dozen.

The “sorrowful six” this time around are Querétaro, UNAM, Tijuana, FC Juárez, Necaxa and Mazatlán FC.

Big changes for Cañoneros and Rayos

Naturally, the two worst teams in Liga MX will be looking at a busy summer in hopes of turning around their fortunes.

Mazatlán FC acted first, announcing on Monday that coach Rubén Omar Romano would not be back with the club (Romano stepped in to replace interim coach Christián Ramírez in early February after Gabriel Caballero was sacked following the Cañoneros’ 0-0-4 start).

Ownership also revealed that veterans Marco Fabián and Oswaldo Alanis were told they’ll be released. Ariel Nahuelpan and Nicolás Vikonis are also on the trading block as a result of a dreadful season (2-1-14; 19 GF, 41 GA) made worse by the “relegation” fee of 33 million pesos they must pay after finishing 16th in the Liga MX Relegation Standings.

Necaxa also got to work cleaning house this week, letting coach Andrés Lillini go after one season.

Rayos management has already spoken to Sebastián Battaglia (a former Boca Juniors star who managed Boca’s junior team before stepping up to take the reins at the senior club for a year) and Eduardo Fentanes (recently fired by Santos Laguna).

The Rayos are reportedly preparing to release long-time Liga MX goalie Hugo González and veteran defender Juan Pablo Segovia. No doubt, there will be significant roster overhaul up in Aguascalientes.

In Mexico City, UNAM is already making decisions after a late-season surge came up just short of the the Liga MX playoffs.

Other Liga MX also-rans making moves

Coach Antonio Mohamed took over ahead of Matchday 14 and the Pumas responded with two wins and a draw before getting chewed up by No. 1 playoff seed Monterrey in the season finale.

Mohamed has demanded a seat at the transfer table and has already made known that he wants ownership to pursue 25-year-old Argentinos Juniors midfielder Kevin MacAllister. “El Turco” also declared that he does not want management to sell top striker Juan Ignacio Dinenno who has been the subject of trade rumors for several months. The Argentine striker finished fourth on the Liga MX scoring list with 8 goals.

UNAM has made known that Brazilians Diogo de Oliveira (a forward) and Higor Meritao (a midfielder) will not be back with the club.

Up at the border, FC Juárez has not announced roster moves as yet, but they have been rather deliberate about finding a new coach. Hernán Cristante was pink-slipped after a Matchday 13 loss and assistant coach Diego Mejía took over the rest of the way on an interim basis.

There have been reports that team president Andrés Fassi has sought to recruit former Uruguay national team coach Diego Alonso and has contacted Mauro Camoranesi.

Alonso has plenty of experience in Liga MX. He guided Pachuca to the Clausura 2016 title and led both Pahcuca and Monterrey to Concacaf Champions League victory.

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Camoranesi started on Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning side but before that had a brief stint in Liga MX with Cruz Azul. The Italo-Argentine has coaching experience in Mexico, Argentina and Slovenia.