CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Friday, July 20, 2012
The newly unveiled Liga MX will begin its inaugural Apertura campaign this weekend, and most of the major Americans plan to be involved in their teams opening games.
Tijuana - Puebla
Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona are coming off of a strong summer with the National Team and will be leading Tijuana's charge toward the top of the standings, where they made the playoffs in last season's Clausura. Castillo was one of the iron men of the season, averaging almost 90 minutes a game.
Greg Garza has been getting minutes and reportedly playing well in pre-season games, and may see action against the eternally struggling Puebla.
DaMarcus Beasley has been fighting off injuries during the summer, and it is yet unclear as to whether or not he will be able to go in the season opener for Puebla. If he is healthy, he will expect to see plenty of time for the visitors as they try to avoid a loss to start the season.
Puebla's on-field woes during the Clausura were matched by off-field financial problems that have been plaguing the team and Beasley himself, who has been consistently rumored to be on his way out, though it appears now that he will be staying.
The game begins at 10:30pm EST, on Friday, July 20.
Santos Laguna - San Luis
Herculez Gomez and Santos Laguna were the Clausura Champions and CONCACAF Chamions League runners up last season, and they are heavy favorites to repeat after keeping their roster mostly intact, despite interest from Europe in several players.
Gomez came on strong in the middle of the last campaign and had a streak of eight consecutive games with a goal, from all competitions. Having proven himself to Benjamin Galindo and becoming an essential piece of the championship puzzle, Gomez should remain a key player this season and see the field against San Luis.
Michael Orozco has remained a regular in San Luis' starting back line this pre-season, despite his struggles last season. San Luis finished with one of the worst defenses in the league, and Orozco at one point lost his starting position. Orozco will likely start against Santos, and he is sure to have a stressful game in Torreon as they take on the best offense in Mexico.
The game begins at 8:00pm EST on Saturday, July 21.
Pachuca - Atlante
Jose Torres finished last season regaining fitness from an injury, but a fruitful summer session with the National Team should leave him sharper than ever for Pachuca's season opener against Atlante.
Torres has been a consistent part of Pachuca's midfield since 2008, and nothing is going to change for the Texan. Pachuca had a frustrating Clausura campaign as they finished in sixth place, just four points out of second, and then exiting in the first round of the playoffs by a 3-2 aggregate.
Pachuca wants to get back to the CONCACAF Champions League which they won in 2010, and the road begins against Atlante who finished four points from the bottom last season.
The game begins at 7:00pm EST on Sunday, July 22.
Jonathan Bornstein and Victor Garza are unlikely to play as Tigres take on Jaguares.
Stevie Rodriguez and Alejandro Guido could see their professional debuts for Tijuana.
Marco Vidal begins the season with his new team Lobos BUAP as they play Necaxa in the second division.