Liga MX W2W4: Mexican youngsters out to make their mark; Pachuca aim to topple Pumas
Three weeks into this Apertura, the Liga MX table and its storylines are taking shape. Our Liga MX writers Tom Marshall and Cesar Hernandez each pick a theme or matchup to watch for this weekend.
Mexican youngsters out to make mark
Whether the new youngster rule for the 2018 Apertura has anything to do with more young players getting chances this season is up for debate, but what isn't is that youngsters have been making an impact this season.
And with the World Cup blues slowly fading, this is a good weekend to scout some of the best young talent in Liga MX and see what the future of the Mexican national team could be.
The starting place has to be Club America against Monterrey on Saturday in Estadio Azteca, where three youngsters set to win a lot of Mexico caps will be on display.
Diego Lainez will hope to produce the same magic as last weekend, while Club America teammate Edson Alvarez is set to keep his place in his natural centre-back spot. For Monterrey, Jonathan Gonzalez looks to have won over new Rayados coach Diego Alonso.
Cruz Azul forward Roberto Alvarado should be back in Pedro Caixinha's starting XI for the trip to Tijuana on Sunday after scoring the winner last weekend, while left-back Gerardo Arteaga is set for action for Santos Laguna against Chivas in Guadalajara, also on Sunday.
Alexis Vegas, another goalscorer last weekend, and his Toluca side face a tough away game at Tigres on Saturday. Meanwhile 17-year-old central midfielder Marcel Ruiz will be looking for more minutes with Queretaro on the road against Leon on Sunday.
Elsewhere, it'll be worth keeping an eye on Puebla right-back Vladimir Lorona against Veracruz on Friday and Lobos BUAP's left-back Aldo Cruz will be facing Atlas and their young quartet: Jose Hernandez (goalkeeper), Cristian Calderon (left-back), Ulises Cardona (left-wing) and Ismael Govea (right-back). -- Tom Marshall
Pachuca aiming to upset Pumas
In theory, predicting the result of Pumas vs. Pachuca should be fairly easy.
On one hand, you have Pumas sitting comfortably in first place with three wins and 10 goals scored. On the other, you have an 18th-placed Pachuca roster that has yet to claim a single point. Coupled with the fact that Pumas will be hosting Sunday's game, the Mexico City club should have no issues claiming a victory, right?
Despite the polar opposite seasons the two sides are having, this weekend's clash might prove to be more complicated than expected. Although Pachuca has run into a number of problems early on in the Apertura, there is still an exciting amount of potential in a squad that contains skillful young Mexicans such as Erick Gutierrez and Victor Guzman.
New manager Pako Ayestaran will be desperate to make an impact after his worrisome start to the season. Following his three losses for Los Tuzos, the Spaniard should be highly motivated to clinch at least one point this weekend. Pachuca will also benefit from not having had a recent Copa MX game, whereas first-team Pumas players such as Alejandro Arribas, Felipe Mora and Rosario Corta might be a bit fatigued after playing in the domestic cup tournament earlier this week.
Regardless of the Pumas' position as the clear favorites, we can't rule out Pachuca just yet. If you're looking for a Liga MX upset, look no further than this one. -- Cesar Hernandez
Herrera's return to Monterrey
Miguel Herrera has, as documented, an extensive history with his next opponents. Though Herrera's run with the Rayados ended without a trophy in the mid 2000s, it served as a glimpse to come for any and all future successes. Under the lavolpista banner, Herrera's Monterrey made two Liga MX finals playing vertical, offensive football with an emphasis on keeping possession and spreading the field.
More than a decade after his exit, both he and his former team have endured a roller-coaster of highs and lows. Though Monterrey immediately found a period of sustained success with Victor Manuel Vucetich, hired a little over a year after Herrera was fired, the big spenders from the north have not won a league title since 2010. Herrera's long road to a championship of his own ended in 2013 in an epic win over Cruz Azul with America, vaulting him to the Mexican national team before he was fired.
This season, both teams have combined for five wins and just one loss as they meet up in one of the top games in this still nascent Liga MX campaign. At the Estadio Azteca, Herrera will face Diego Alonso, a young manager who could very well be competing with him for Mexico's top job in the near future, given his past and present success. After Lainez's electric performance against Pachuca, Monterrey (who have allowed one goal through three games) will be tested defensively perhaps for the first time in the Apertura 2018. -- Eric Gomez