Champs pluck Gallos Blancos in home opener at Estadio Azteca

Second-half scoring outburst powers Toluca past visiting Mazatlán FC

Richard Sánchez (left) and Julián Quiñones – the goal-scorers for América – celebrate after the former's goal against Querétaro in Liga MX action at Estadio Azteca.
Richard Sánchez (left) and Julián Quiñones – the goal-scorers for América – celebrate after the former's goal against Querétaro in Liga MX action at Estadio Azteca. / CARL DE SOUZA/GettyImages
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Holders América coasted to victory in its home opener thanks to Richard Sánchez’s spectacular bid for Goal of the Year.

Sánchez dribbled diagonally toward the right channel, then let rip from outside the box, 27 meters away. The rocket shot ricocheted off the crossbar, rapidly bounced back up and bulged the roof of the net. 

Julián Quiñones doubled the advantage in minute 84, benefiting from a nifty cutback pass from Álvaro Fidalgo who’d gotten free with an overlapping run down the left side.

The 2-0 win allowed the defending Liga MX champs to leapfrog Atlético de San Luis to the top of the Matchday 2 table, thanks to a +4 goal differential. Monterrey (at Santos Laguna) and Tigres (vs Chivas) could climb past América with convincing victories Sunday.

Diablos turn up the heat in ‘El Infierno’

Toluca fell behind visiting Mazatlán FC after defender Brian García handled the ball in the box. Andrés Montaño converted the PK, but the lead would not hold.

Claudio Baeza answered before halftime, then Jean Meneses struck twice in the second half.

Toluca moved in front just after the hour mark. Jesús “Canelo” Angulo sent Roberto Morales into the box on the right side; Morales patiently sent a lovely feed across the face of goal to Meneses who tapped it home on the back side.

In minute 86, Tomás Belmonte’s perfectly timed pass split the Cañoneros defense and sent Meneses in alone on Hugo González. “Takeshi” made no mistake, burying a right-footer inside the near post.

And Meneses wasn’t done. The shifty Chilean earned a penalty in minute 90+3, sending the resident Liga MX portero-goleador onto center stage. Tiago Volpi obliged, trotting up to the spot, then sending González the wrong way, slotting home for the 4-1 final score.

In Saturday’s third match, Atlas and Tijuana – both losers on Matchday 1 – played to a scoreless draw at Estadio Jalisco. Xolos' 42-year-old goalie Jesús Corona stood tall in the net, making six saves to help the visitors head back to the border with 1 point.

Sunday’s Liga MX schedule

The two Northern Giants will be in action, both looking to start the Clausura 2024 with two straight wins.

Tigres is still trying to erase the bitter taste of losing the Finals but they can’t dwell over missed opportunities because Guadalajara will be in the house.

The Chivas remain the best soap opera in Liga MX ("Is 'Chicharito' coming or isn't he?") and Sunday’s episode might feature a debut for a Team USA player. That’s right! A foreign international donning a Chivas jersey.

Newly signed Cade Cowell, 20, traveled with Guadalajara to Nuevo León and could make his Liga MX debut in the ever-imposing “El Volcán.”

Tigres produced a thrilling 2-1 comeback win at León last weekend and could steal into first place with a 3-0 win. That’s not likely against a scrappy Chivas side that battled to a 1-1 draw last week in their season opener.

In the Sunday nightcap, Monterrey pays a visit to Estadio Corona where Santos Laguna will try to play the spoiler role.

The Guerreros are starting life without last season’s top assist man, Juan Brunetta who now plays for Tigres. Still, reigning Liga MX Golden Boot winner Harold Preciado is still wearing the green hoops and he scored last week in the club’s 1-1 draw at Guadalajara.

News and Notes

UNAM’s Rogelio Funes Mori has been sidelined indefinitely after surgery to repair cracked ribs suffered during the first half against Atlético de San Luis.

The long-time Monterrey striker joined the Pumas this month and was getting his first start of the season.

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It’s likely that Guillermo Martínez – another new Pumas transfer – will be given the role of lone striker and first-year coach Gustavo Lema might even be tempted to add an attacking midfielder. Uruguayans Roberto Ergas and Cristián Tabó might see more of the pitch in place of “El Mellizo.”