EDGAR ZUNIGA - Monday, January 7, 2013
Herculez Gomez scored in the season opener for Santos Laguna, while four Yanks were in the starting lineup between Puebla and visiting Club Tijuana.
San Luis 1 - 1 Santos Laguna
Herculez Gomez scored for visiting Santos Laguna but the team wasn't able to hold on to the lead and had to settle for a lackluster draw with San Luis.
A sloppy match, shoddy officiating and nervousness from both sides left many doubts about either team's chances in the new season.
In the 10th minute, referee Miguel Ortega "missed" a clear hand-ball in the area by San Luis defender and captain Javier Muñoz. San Luis tried to respond on the offensive end but were thwarted by lack of finishing touch by forward Santiago Trellez.
Nevertheless, Santos looked more menacing, and in the 26th minute finally broke through when veteran San Luis goalkeeper Oscar "El Conejo" Pérez was caught out of position by Gomez, who headed in the goal off a pass from Carlos Darwin Quintero.
Perez almost made another mistake in the early part of the second half when he stumbled trying to stop a long-distance shot by Juan Pablo Rodríguez.
The match turned dull as both teams failed to generate any offense, but that changed in the 65th minute, when San Luis coach Eduardo Fentanes replaced Jherson Cordoba with Guillermo Rojas, who scored almost immediately.
Rojas took a pass in the 18-yard box, beat defender Rafael Figueroa and was able to knock the ball into an empty net, with Santos 'keeper Oswaldo Sánchez unable to do anything.
The goal gave San Luis an injection of confidence as they attempted to add to their tally. However, the wind was completely taken out of their sails after Muñoz received his second yellow of the night on a foul on Oribe Peralta, in the 78th minute.
Despite the man advantage, Santos almost gave up a goal in injury time, when Luis Mendoza found himself one-on-one with Sánchez, but his shot was stopped by a terrific save by the 'keeper. On the same play, Figueroa was given a straight red for a hand-ball and a hard foul, leaving both teams with 10 men as the game came to an end.
Puebla 1 - 2 Club Tijuana
In a match that featured four American in total in both starting lineups, it was the reigning champions who emerged victorious, as the Xoloitzcuintles began the defense of their crown in a tough road match with Puebla.
If Club Tijuana's Greg Garza would not have missed the match due to a suspension, he may have joined fellow Three Amigos Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo in the starting 11 for Xolos, while, DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco lined up for Puebla.
Xolos did not look to be suffering from any championship hangover but it took a while for them to get their offense churning back into their usual form.
In the 30th minute, Corona shook the goalpost when his blast bounced off the crossbar and the rebound came to Duvier Riascos, who fired past 'keeper Alexandro Álvarez to give Xolos the 1-0 lead.
Club Tijuana doubled their lead nine minutes later when Fidel Martínez tried to beat Álvarez, who deflected the shot for a corner kick. Fernando Arce took the corner and fired a pass that hugged the ground, finding Javier Gandolfi, who dummied to Cristian Pellerano, who sent a powerful shot into the net, for the 2-0 lead.
However, just before the half, Puebla caught a bit of fire and attacked the Club Tijuana goal. Félix Borja sent a header toward the net, but it was deflected to a corner kick by Xolos 'keeper Cirilo Saucedo.
On the ensuing corner, Borja shot again but was denied once more by Saucedo. However, on the rebound, Roberto Carlos Juárez shot and scored, getting Puebla back in the game.
In the second half, Puebla tried to push their attack to avail, as Saucedo stepped up to make several important saves, including a big one in the 78th minute, when he took a flying dive to stop a shot by Matías Alustiza.
Three of the four Yanks went the full 90, with Corona being subbed out in the 60th for Joshua Ábrego. Although none of the Yanks figured in the score column, Castillo was given a yellow in the 60th.
Isaac Acuña did not get to play for Atlante in their 2-0 loss to Pachuca. Francisco Torres was a late scratch from the Tigres lineup after suffering an injury to his left leg during practice and is expected to be out for two weeks.
In Ascenso MX action, Marco Vidal's Lobos BUAP defeated Necaxa 1-0, Adrian Ruelas and Veracruz defeated Dorados de Sinaloa 2-0, and Jesus Padilla and La Piedad dominated Celaya 3-1.