Liga MX heads into its final weekend before taking a one-month break to participate in the all-new Concacaf Leagues Cup knockout tournament.
We’ll take a closer look at this inter-league event with a World Cup-like format next week, but for now we want to catch up on what’s been going on in Liga MX.
Matchday 3 kicked off Thursday night with a restricted-viewing double-header (both games exclusively broadcast on Televisa’s posh ViX streaming network). Host Santos Laguna and Atlas played to a scoreless draw, while the Chivas remain atop the Liga MX standings after slipping past visiting Necaxa 2-0.
Saturday night’s calendar offers the best games as América hosts Puebla before Tigres and León renew their recent rivalry that featured three games in nine days. León earned bragging rights after topping Tigres in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals (4-3 on aggregate) but the Northern Giants would go on to claim Liga MX silverware a few weeks later.
Heard in Liga MX chatrooms
Julio Furch might be on his way out at Atlas where he won back-to-back Liga MX titles. Adding fuel to the fire, Furch did not travel for the game against Santos Laguna.
The burly striker is in talks with Santos of Brazil with one foot out the door. “Los Rojinegros” already lost one-half of their dynamic duo up front (Julián Quiñones was sold to América) and Furch’s departure would imply a lengthy rebuild.
As a precaution, Zorros management has asked Tigres about wayward forward Jordy Caicedo. The 25-year-old Ecuadorian flopped in his audition with “los felinos” and was loaned to Turkey’s Sivasspor last season, but did not stick there.
Tigres replied that, yes Caicedo is available for a loan but you’ll have to throw Team Mexico winger Ozziel Herrera into the deal … Atlas is reluctant to shed more offensive weapons, so we’ll watch how this plays out.
Speaking of El Tri, midfielder Luis Chávez could be on the move.
Pachuca has said they are willing to field bids from European clubs (PSV was reportedly interested but has not submitted an offer).
In lieu of any serious inquiries, Tuzos management would consider selling him to any Liga MX club flashing an adequate amount of pesos. It’s no surprise that the Rayados of Monterrey have raised their cash-filled hand.
There won’t be any action on this front, however, until after the initial stages of the Leagues Cup.
New faces and new places
It looks like Colombian defender Willer Ditta is finally on his way to Cruz Azul.
The 26-year-old back-liner had agreed to terms earlier this month but then his club – Newell’s Old Boys – held up the transfer in order to maintain a percentage of his player rights.
As a result, Ditter had been in limbo, missing the Cementeros’ first two games and he likely won’t be ready to contribute until after the Leagues Cup break.
Also officially joining “La Máquina Azul” is jack-of-all-trades Jesús Deuñas. The nominal midfielder played for Cruz Azul coach Ricardo Ferretti at Tigres (they won five Liga MX titles together) then again at FC Juárez.
At 34 and with 23 Liga MX seasons under his belt, Dueñas’ value will be more as the savvy veteran who can fill multiple holes while also serve as a locker room sage.
Still, all is not well in La Noria.
The mismanagement at the top that has been a Cruz Azul hallmark the past three years or more is still an issue.
Oscar Pérez, the general manager without portfolio (team president Víctor Velázquez tends to ignore the advice of his fútbol men), revealed in an interview that the reason the much-ballyhooed Eduardo Aguirre and Matheus Dória transactions fell apart was because of finances and a botched negotiation.
Velázquez had informed the press that the two players had failed team physicals and so had been returned to Santos Laguna. This “story” infuriated the two players and Pérez’s revelation is sure to stir things up in the dysfunctional Cruz Azul front office.
Welcome to Liga MX
The new face we’ll look at today is Robert Morales, a 24-year-old Paraguayan striker who was brought in by Toluca to replace his countryman, Carlos González (sold to Tijuana).
Morales arrived from Cerro Porteño where he scored 30 goals in 76 matches with the Paraguayan giants. The lanky striker started each of Toluca’s first two games thus far, but has yet to find the net.
The Concepción native follows a long line of Guaranis who have starred for the Diablos Rojos, first and foremost José Saturnino Cardozo, the club’s all-time scoring leader. Other Paraguayan forwards to don the classic red jersey include Fabio Escobar, Erwin Ávalos, Manuel Maciel, Edgar Benítez, Pablo Velázquez, Braian Samudio and González.