Apertura 2023 odds and ends: Of Iron Men and Iron Colts

A quick glance at what else is happening in Liga MX besides the Liguilla
Atlante came up just short in its bid for Ascensión MX glory. Still, "Los Potros de Hierro" are determined to get to Liga MX sooner rather than later.
Atlante came up just short in its bid for Ascensión MX glory. Still, "Los Potros de Hierro" are determined to get to Liga MX sooner rather than later. / Jam Media/GettyImages

The semifinals are just getting under way which means a mere six games remain in the Apertura 2023, the season coming to the end in 10 days.

With that in mind, we’ll take this opportunity to take a second quick look back at the season that was. 

Our first wrap-up report (“A quick look back at Apertura 2023 while Liga MX is on FIFA break”) featured scoring leaders, administrative snafus and some notes on the Chivas locker room escapades.

With the season rapidly coming to a conclusion, transfer rumors are heating up, coaching vacancies have been filled. We’ll sprinkle in some stats and trivia, too.

Atlante eager to buy back in to Liga MX

“El Equipo del Pueblo” wants back in the big leagues … In a bad way. 

A few days after falling in the Ascensión MX Final to Cancún FC, Atlante FC management announced it planned to have a franchise in Liga MX sooner rather than later.

At the same time, league president Mikel Arriola confirmed that Liga MX would not be expanding next season nor would it be reinstating promotion/demotion.

That pronouncement will not dissuade Atlante – the mythical 104-year-old club that has spent the past 14 years in second division – from its plan to get back to top-flight football.

Circumstances bing what they are, the best chance for “Los Potros de Hierro” to return to Liga MX in the short term is to buy a franchise. Record sports daily suggests there might even be two teams willing to listen, naming Mazatlán FC and Club Puebla. 

It would be a shame if the Puebla franchise – founded in 1944 – disappeared. On the other hand, it would be ironic if Mazatlán FC, which came into being by buying out Monarcas Morelia in 2020 were to be the victims of soccer piracy.

Cementeros delay presentation of new GM, coach

Cruz Azul is the lone Liga MX club that is officially without a coach. 

As we mentioned last month, “La Máquina Azul” wasted no time in cleaning house, canning its top front office executives and bidding adios to interim coach Joaquín Moreno. 

Iván Alonso was handed GM duties – after a brief vacillation – and he has indeed taken over, roaming the La Noria headquarters, introducing himself to players, etc.

The new boss has not been formally presented to the media yet and this week team officials revealed just why

New coach-in-waiting Martín Anselmi won’t be available for an introductory news conference until after Dec. 17 because his current team – Ecuador’s Independiente del Valle – is playing in the league final.

The plan is for Alonso and Anselmi to meet the media in southern Mexico City on Dec. 18.

Liga MX Iron Men

Twelve men amassed 1530 minutes played this season, starting and finishing all 16 of their team’s games. That’s no easy feat.

Six of the 12 Iron Men were defenders, four were goalies and two were midfielders. Two clubs – Atlas and Puebla – had three players they could rely on game in and game out, while Mazatlán FC had two Iron Men on its roster.

Without further ado, the Liga MX Iron Men of the Apertura 2023:

– Camilo Vargas (goalie), José Abella (fullback) and Hugo Nervo (central defender) from Atlas

– Jesús Rodríguez (goalie), Gastón Silva (defender) and Diego de Buen (midfielder) from Puebla

– Jefferson Intriago (midfielder) and Facundo Almada (central defender) from Mazatlán FC

– Julio González (goalie) UNAM

– Tiago Volpi (goalie) Toluca

– Emanuel Gularte (central defender) Querétaro

– Alexis Peña (central defender) Necaxa

Player movement across Liga MX

Cruz Azul goalie Sebastián Jurado has been sent to FC Juárez on a one-year loan deal (with buy option). The 26-year-old netminder never could win the starting spot after being acquired in a splashy 2019 transaction, failing spectacularly when given the chance at the job the past three seasons.

Up in Guadalajara, rumors of departures started shortly after the club’s early elimination  from the Liga MX playoffs. Veteran defender Hiram Mier announced he was leaving the club while there are whispers that winger Isaac Brizuela and fullback Jesús Sánchez could see their Chivas careers come to an end. It would also be no surprise if the trio that was suspended midseason for violating team rules – Alexis Vega, Cristian Calderón and Raúl Martínez – is put on the trading block.