The Leagues Cup knockout stage is slowly taking shape after the first set of Matchday 3 contests were completed Saturday night.
Seventeen teams are already penciled into the Round of 32 – six of the 16 match-ups are established. The remaining 15 spots will be determined after the Sunday (six games) and Monday (four games) calendars are in the books.
Two Liga MX teams have already been eliminated (Necaxa and Santos Laguna) while seven have already booked spots in the knockout round.
Nine other Mexican clubs – including Tigres, Monterrey, Guadalajara and Toluca – will be battling for the Leagues Cup lives the next two days.
Leagues Cup news and notes
Robert Siboldi – coach of reigning Liga MX champion Tigres – is faced with the pleasant “botheration” of having too many options in attack.
For instance, former Liga MX scoring champ Nico Ibáñez is stuck behind André-Pierre Gignac, a three time Golden Boot winner.
And now Siboldi has last season’s playoff MVP Sebastián Córdova back in the fold (sports hernia) and Team Mexico winger Ozziel Herrera just joined from Atlas a week ago.
Both came on as subs in the club’s Leagues Cup opener and Córdova, in particular, looked dangerous.
Tigres need only a draw against the San Jose Earthquakes today to secure a spot in the Round of 32 and coach Siboldi might tinker with his line-up to keep his attack force fresh for the knockout round.
Playmaker Diego Lainez played only 28 minutes in the team’s 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers last week, so he could use some game time
América dismantled MLS Western Conference leaders St. Louis City by a 4-0 scoreline last week, by far the best performance of a Liga MX team in this year’s Leagues Cup.
The dominance should come as no surprise as the Aguilas boast the biggest payroll among Leagues Cup participants.
And this weekend we have been hearing that “Los Azulcremas” are bidding to add Espanyol’s César Montes to the locker room.
The LaLiga side suffered demotion last season and is seeking to pare its wage packet. Montes is among the high-salaried players “Los Pericos” want to move and they have been asking $10 million for the El Tri defender. América has the funds to pull it off, but the question is whether or not the 26-year-old defender is willing to leave Europe after only half a season abroad.
Another deep-pocketed Liga MX side – Monterrey – might showcase the team’s newest addition.
Spain international Sergio Canales arrived just last week but the Rayados quickly registered the midfielder with Leagues Cup officials and he is eligible to play.
He will be a welcome addition, not only for the skill he brings but also because back-up forward Rodrigo Aguirre will miss the remainder of the Leagues Cup with a thigh injury.
The Rayados need only a draw against the Seattle Sounders today to advance to the Round of 32.