Scattershooting after Matchday 3: League leaders, goleadores and late transfers

Only five unbeaten teams remain; Guardado, Del Prete settling into new homes
Necaxa held the defending champs to a scoreless draw on Saturday. The Rayos and the Aguilas are two of the five unbeaten teams in Liga MX.
Necaxa held the defending champs to a scoreless draw on Saturday. The Rayos and the Aguilas are two of the five unbeaten teams in Liga MX. / Jam Media/GettyImages

We’re just a little over three matches into the Clausura 2024 and only five teams remain unbeaten, and none of them are perfect.

The league’s three financial giants – defending champions América, last season’s losing finalist Tigres and Monterrey – sit atop the Liga MX table with 10 points (3-1-0). All three clubs have already played their Matchday 4 games with the rest of the league to follow Tuesday and Wednesday.

Necaxa and Toluca are the other “unbeaten.” The Rayos – last place last season – are off to a stunning 2-1-0 start (including a scoreless draw against holders América on Saturday) and sit in fourth place.

Toluca, on the other hand, is a middling 1-2-0, good enough for 7th place, just behind last season’s losing semifinalists – UNAM (2-0-1) and Atlético de San Luis (2-0-2) – who have 6 points to the Diablos’ 5.

Liga MX individual leaders

There is a three-way tie atop the goal-scoring list as we resume Matchday 4.

Newcomer Brandon Vazquez is endearing himself to Monterrey fans. He scored three straight goals for the Rayados over two games, helping the club secure 4 points.

Vazquez’s three goals has him tied in the Golden Boot race with Atlético de San Luis striker Léo Bonatini (he scored in each of the first three games) and Tigres playmaker Francisco Córdova who failed to score a single goal during an injury-plagued Apertura 2023.

Córdova’s new teammate Juan Brunetta is in the running for back-to-back assist titles after serving up a helper in each of Tigres’ past two games. 

Brunetta, a playmaking midfielder, led Liga MX with 11 assists last season while at Santos Laguna.

Fullback Ricardo Chávez (Atlético de San Luis) and winger Heriberto Jurado (Necaxa), with two assists, are the only other Liga MX players with more than one dime.

Latest transfer news

Two El Tri fullbacks are returning to Liga MX after aborted careers in Europe.

Left back Gerardo Arteaga and right back Jorge Sánchez spent a combined 46 months abroad, Arteaga in Belgium and Sánchez in Holland and Portugal. Both came up through the Santos Laguna academy system though Sánchez was sold to América before making the leap to Europe.

Arteaga, 25, will be joining Monterrey, while Sánchez, 26, will play for Cruz Azul, and both are expected to step into their respective starting line-ups as soon as possible.

Arteaga decided to return to Mexico even though he was getting regular minutes in the Jupiler League even though he would be in direct competition with Jesús Gallardo, the man who has held down the starting left fullback job with El Tri for the past six years. 

However, Gallardo seems headed for surgery after tweaking a knee last week. Monterrey claims it will just be a scope and Gallardo might not miss the entire season although it is unlikely he’ll be available for Mexico’s Nations League matches in March. 

As it stands, Arteaga should get plenty of opportunity to impress the El Tri coaching staff.

Sánchez became interested in rejoining Liga MX as his career was going sideways. The troubled right back had fallen out of favor at Ajax who loaned him out to FC Porto where he was riding the bench. Several Liga MX clubs inquired about his availability and Sánchez readily expressed his willingness.

Cruz Azul made the best offer but ran into some trouble as they not only had to meet Ajax’s asking price, but must also pay FC Porto to release Sánchez from the loan deal.

Porto decided to play hard ball and as the transfer window started to close and a deal was being held up, Sánchez told Porto officials he would not report for training this past weekend. Whether that had an effect or not, the talks were brought to conclusion and the Cementeros look to have a new starting right fullback.

Old faces in new (Liga MX) places

Long-time El Tri skipper Andrés Guardado is back in Mexico to finish up a career that started 19 years ago with Atlas.

“El Principito” left Liga MX for Europe in 2007 and enjoyed a sparkling career across the pond, winning two Eredivisie titles, two Dutch Super Cups and a Copa del Rey.

The 37-year-old signed a two-year deal with León and suited up for the Esmeraldas for the first time over the weekend. Coach Jorge Bava inserted Guardado in minute 77 and he was immediately handed the captain’s arm band, helping “La Fiera” close out s 3-2 win over visiting Santos Laguna.

Uruguayan forward Gustavo del Prete was sold by UNAM last week after a year-and-a-half with the Pumas. The 27-year-old wasted no time in making his mark with Mazatlán FC.

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Del Prete was given the start and 10 minutes after the opening whistle he had scored a debut goal with the Cañoneros.