By Dan Price
While the Mexican national side was celebrating a well-deserved Gold Cup title following their comprehensive 3-1 win over Jamaica in Philadelphia on Sunday night, some of the Liga MX’s biggest names were left to lick their wounds after a litany of surprise results on the opening weekend.
Reigning champions Santos Laguna slump in Torreon
Santos Laguna were beaten 3-1 at home by Club Leon on Saturday evening. It was a stark reminder that although they are the reigning champions, they were only good enough to finish eighth in the Clausura regular season and a place in the next Liguilla is far from assured.
In Santos’ defense, they ended the game with eight men and still managed to pull a goal back despite their depleted numbers.
All three sending off were probably the correct decision. Only ‘keeper Agustin Marchesin could feel some level of aggrievment, with replays suggesting that both Nestor Araujo and Carlos Izquierdoz had a good chance of clearing the danger. Perhaps a mere yellow card would have sufficed, but it was a 50/50 call.
Striker Djaniny, who in last season’s Liguilla threatened to become one of the most dangerous forwards in the league, was sent off for a second yellow after a preposterous dive in the box. It shows the 24-year-old Cape Verde international still has a lot to learn.
America’s defense remains their biggest weakness
Arguably more surprising than Santos’ loss at home to Leon was America’s 4-2 defeat against Puebla.
In the Clausura, La Franja were only spared relegation on the final day of the season – and most people assumed that they’d face a similar battle to preserve their top flight status this season.
When Andres Andrade expertly put America one ahead in only the third minute, it seemed the match was already over – but Marini’s men refused to lie down. Goals from Torres, Bermudez, Alustiza, and Santos turned the game on its head, with Quintero’s goal being too little too late for the visitors.
The result proves that despite the new manager, America’s problems from the second half of last season are still very much present. Matosas was essentially fired for erratic results, which mainly caused by an inconsistent defense. Last season they lost 4-2 to Santos, and 4-0 against both Veracruz and Queretaro. Conceding four on the opening day to Puebla suggests Ambriz’s reign might be equally as short-lived as his predecessor.
Morelia join Puebla in surprise result for relegation contender
Morelia were never really dragged into last season’s relegation battle, despite a woeful campaign that saw them win just five games in the Apertura and Clausura combined.
That’s all changed this season, as they kicked off against Cruz Azul in last place in the Tabla de Descenso (with the exception of newly promoted Dorados).
They ultimately cruised to an easy 3-0 win, with a brace of goals from Pablo Velazquez and a third from Jefferson Cuero wrapping up the win by the 50th minute.
It was a great statement of intent, and if they and Puebla can continue to display the prowess they showed in the opening weekend, fans of Dorados should already be very concerned about their own team’s survival chances.