Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Mexico: Can Monterrey win third straight Apertura?

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on July 22, 2011

Monterrey CFThe Mexican football season kicks off this weekend with eighteen teams hoping to claim the Apertura (Opening) Championship. UNAM Pumas are the most recent Mexican champions following their 2010-11 Clausura (Closing) Championship success but Monterrey will hope to repeat their 2010-11 Apertura title triumph.

The new season will see a slightly different format in the first stage of each championship. Instead of the eighteen teams being split into three different groups there will now be just one championship table which will clearly decipher who the best eight teams of the regular season are and will, thus, decide the post-season play-off fixtures which ultimately decide each championship. Monterrey are looking for a third straight Apertura championship having won the 2009 & 2010 editions but will also have to pay attention to their CONCACAF Champions League campaign which they enter this season as title holders following their 3-2 aggregate win over American side Real Salt Lake in last season’s final.

UNAM Pumas have been largely inactive in the transfer window and have added no further players to their squad thus far. The champions, who won a 7th domestic crown last season, will also be participating in the CONCACAF Champions League along with the two best non-champion teams of the 2010-11 campaign Monarcas Morelia and Santos Laguna. Club America, traditionally the biggest club in Mexico, haven’t won a domestic title for six years but after signing last season’s Apertura top scorer Christian Benitez from Santos Laguna hopes are high that they can challenge for a title this time around.

The situation regarding relegation in Mexico is similar to that in Argentina in which each team’s points average over three seasons (six championships) will determine who goes down into the second tier Liga de Ascenso next season. Tijuana, from the north west of the country on the Mexico-US border, will naturally start with zero points in the averages table having been promoted last season at the expense of Necaxa. They will be hoping to have a good season so that they can climb above the likes of Estudiantes Tecos (1.0441 average), Queretaro (1.0882), Jaguares (1.1324) and Atlas (1.1471) who lie immediately above them at the commencement of the new campaign.

Estudiantes Tecos will begin the new season on Friday, 22 July with a home match against Toluca. Four matches take place on Saturday, the biggest of them being Pachuca v Santos Laguna, whilst Sunday will also see four games played with defending champions UNAM Pumas at home to San Luis while last season’s Apertura champions Monterrey face a potentially tricky away tie at Jaguares.

CONCACAF: Mexicans showing the way in Champions League

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on March 19, 2010

Pachuca are one of four Mexican teams in the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals

As convincing as it was predictable, four Mexican teams occupy the semi-final places in the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League after defeating opponents from four different nations in the quarter-finals. These results continue the trend set in recent years where Mexican clubs have dominated the tournament and it ensures that for the fifth year in succession the trophy will go to the footballing superpower in North and Central America.

The first quarter-final was completed on Tuesday night when defending champions Pachuca overcame the challenge of Guatemalan side Comunicaciones with a 2-1 second leg victory thanks to goals from Paul Nicolás Aguilar and Luis Montes with Rolando Fonseca replying for Comunicaciones via the penalty spot. The win meant that Pachuca won 3-2 on aggregate after the first leg, played in Guatemala one week earlier, had finished 1-1. Pachuca’s semi-final opponents will be Deportivo Toluca who overcame a tough test against Major League Soccer team Columbus Crew. After the first leg had finished 2-2 this was a topsy-turvy affair with Guillermo Barros Schelotto giving The Crew the lead on the stroke of half-time with a penalty kick. Toluca equalised just two minutes into the second half thanks to another penalty, this time scored by Héctor Mancilla and then António Naélson, known simly as Sinha, scored the first of two in the 57th minute to give Toluca the lead. Schelotto restored parity for Columbus Crew on 70 minutes but, not for the first time, they couldn’t hold on as Toluca went up the other end and scored the winner thanks to Sinha’s second goal on 72 minutes.

The other all-Mexican semi-final tie will be between Cruz Azul and UNAM Pumas who both had more comfortable wins against their quarter-final opponents. Cruz Azul, who have won this tournament a joint record five times, already had a cushion of a 1-0 lead from the first leg against Panamanian side CD Arabe Unido before putting the game to the sword with an easy 3-0 return leg victory at home thanks to goals from Javier Orozco (2) and César Villaluz to complete a convincing 4-0 aggregate win. Honduran champions Club Deportivo Marathón did win their first leg against UNAM Pumas 2-0 thanks to two penalties being converted by Walter Martínez and Carlos Mejía. However the Mexicans proved in last night’s second leg that the competition is a Marathón rather than a sprint (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one!) by hammering the Hondurans 6-1, including a brace apiece for Ismael Íñiguez and Francisco Palencia, therefore completing a 6-3 victory over the two legs.

SEMI-FINALS (dates to be decided)

UNAM Pumas v Cruz Azul

Deportivo Toluca v Pachuca

* – Teams on the left are at home in the first leg