WOODY BAUM - Thursday, March 4, 2010
Two Americans battle it out when Edgar Castillo and Tigres visits Marco Vidal and Indios, while Paco Torres will try to help correct Pachuca's recent poor play.
Monterrey – Pachuca
Pachuca have the difficult task ahead of them of turning around their season against group leader Monterrey on the road this Saturday.
Pachuca, who started the season strong, have now had three disappointing results in a row, with one point in three games.
They now sit six points behind group leader Monterrey and are facing the risk of a second tournament with a liguilla appearance.
This is a difficult match for the visiting club as Monterrey have been playing very strong at home this tournament. Pachuca haven't had much luck historically in the North, having only ever won twice at the Estadio Tecnologico.
Paco Torres will look to start again after having started several matches in a row for the Tuzos. He will hope to regroup after a disappointing performance with the U.S. national team against the Netherlands on Wednesday.
Guillermo Rivarola will have his complete squad available for match, while Monterrey will be missing Luis Ernesto Pérez due to injury.
Estudiantes will face a stiff challenge this Saturday when they visit the Monarchs of Morelia. It will be two teams going on two very different paths as Estudiantes have continued to disappoint in game after game while Morelia has delivered a series of impressive of victories in the tournament.
Ex US U20 player, Sammy Ochoa has not seen the field in over three games but may be called upon if an offensive spark is needed, as coach hot tempered coach Miguel Herrera has done on several occasions this season.
However, it is the Estudiantes defense that needs the most help as the Guadalajara squad is the most scored upon in the tournament and mostly for the team's position as 15th in the general table with five points.
Estudiantes will have a difficult time controlling a Morelia offense that has been red hot. They recently scored three goals as visitors against Tigres last week and will hope to continue the scoring as they remain in the hunt for the Group Two lead, right behind Monterrey.
Diego Jimenez and Jorge Zamogilny will be out for Estudiantes while Morelia will have their entire squad available.
Puebla will have their hands full when they visit Pumas at the Ciudad Universitario in Mexico City this Sunday afternoon.
Puebla will get the opportunity to avenge their semifinal loss to Pumas in last spring's tournament, in which a last minute goal by Pumas in the final minutes tied up the game and sent the game to overtime.
Pumas would win in overtime and play in the finals, which they eventually won.
That loss still leaves a bitter taste in Puebla's mouth, but this is not the same Puebla squad as two tournaments ago and they have been unable to generate any type of consistency so far this season.
However they will attempt to use the momentum from last week's game where American Herculez Gomez scored, his third goal in three games, to the tie against Jaguares in the 87th minute.
Unfortunately for Puebla, Pumas is coming off an impressive victory of their own when they dominated Pachuca, in the Estadio Hidalgo, and came away with the road victory by a score of three to nothing.
Look for Pumas to take advantage of their home field advantage and Puebla's inconsistent play this season.
Marco Vidal and Indios will face off against fellow American Edgar Castillo this Sunday in Ciudad Juarez.
This will be a battle for respect as both teams' seasons post season hopes have been dashed and are more realistically fighting to avoid relegation.
Indios' winless streak continues and both teams are coming off embarrassing 3-0 losses.
Marco Vidal has been a surprise contributor all season long, starting and playing the full 90 in almost every game, after being after left out of the squad in many games towards the end of last season.
However, his efforts have been unable to change the course of one of the most disappointing seasons in Mexican first division history.
Edgar Castillo should start after being a regular contributor this season. However, he has yet to find the offensive spark for which he was known while he was playing with Santos.
This season, many of his defensive holes have been exposed and many goals against Tigres have come from service from his side of the field.
Look for Indios to try to slow down the pace of the game and take advantage of the Ciudad Juarez heat.
Indios have been content to sit back and play compact this season although that strategy has been ineffective so far this season and might backfire against a Tigres team that, despite their issues with inconsistency and defense, has been able to generate a potent offense at times with the help of Brazilian Itamar Batista.