Toluca’s Ignacio Ambriz (left) and Atlas coach Diego Cocca (right) will match wits on Sunday at Estadio Nemesio Díez in a key Liga MX contest. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Matchday 2 of the accelerated Apertura 2022 season features several attractive match-ups, starting off with the troubled Tigres paying a visit to Mazatlán FC tonight, though Saturday’s Liga MX line-up offers two enticing contests.
The Tigres are coming off a disappointing 3-2 home loss to Cruz Azul, after which coach Miguel Herrera criticized the officiating and the new Referees Commission president, an act which resulted in a hefty fine.
Herrera is under pressure to lead the Tigres to their first Liga MX Final since May 2019, but his aging roster and lack of player acquisitions has him in a bind. It also doesn’t help that two of his players – Yeferson Soteldo and Raymundo Fulgencio – were involved in a car wreck under questionable circumstances.
Mazatlán – a 4-2 loser to visiting Puebla last week – is also desperate for a win as the Cañoneros hope to build upon last season’s success when “The Purple Gang” qualified for the Liga MX playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Not just ‘One More Saturday Night’ in Liga MX
Cruz Azul continues its early-season trial-by-fire, taking on last season’s No. 1 seed Pachuca. The Cementeros defeated the No. 2 seeded Tigres last week and outlasted Atlas, the reigning champs and No. 3 seeds, in the Liga MX Super Cup the week prior.
“La Máquina” also earned headlines today when Luis Suárez revealed Cruz Azul coach Diego Aguirre – a fellow Uruguayan – had sought to recruit him for the Cementeros. Suárez – currently without a team – told reporters that playing in Mexico is not in his plans.
Pachuca led Liga MX in goals scored and fewest goals allowed last season, so “The Blue Machine” will have its work cut out for it at Estadio Azteca on Saturday.
At the same time, América travels to Monterrey to take on the Rayados with both teams aiming to get in the Win column. The Aguilas settled for a scoreless draw with visiting Atlas while Monterrey came up short at Santos Laguna, losing on a penalty kick in stoppage time.
América and Monterrey are perennial title favorites despite neither making the Final since the Rayados defeated the Aguilas on penalty kicks to claim the Apertura 2019 title.
Also Saturday, León welcomes UNAM to the Camp Nou with both clubs sitting on 3 points. New Esmeraldas coach Renato Paiva eked out a win in his Liga MX debut while the Pumas are making headlines for off-the-field news as legendary Brazil right back Dani Alves is considering an offer to play for the Mexico City club.
Lastly, struggling Guadalajara welcomes Atlético de San Luis in a virtual must-win situation for the Chivas who are looking for a replacement for striker JJ Macías who was lost for the season with a knee injury. “El Rebaño Sagrado” is said to be negotiating with Cincinnati FC for Brandon Vázquez, the MLS club’s leading scorer.
Liga MX champs visit dark horse contenders
Holders Atlas is on the road for a second consecutive weekend, this time facing a much-improved Toluca side at high noon on Sunday. “Los Choriceros” are a trendy pick to reach the Liga MX Final this season after the front office broke the bank to overhaul their roster.
Coach Ignacio Ambriz is eager to put his new-look Diablos to the test and the Zorros will provide him with a suitable challenge even though they are expected to be without top striker Julio Furch.
Toluca had four new faces in its starting line-up for last week’s 3-1 win at Necaxa, while three other acquisitions came in off the bench. As for Atlas, the two-time Liga MX champs are still trying to get their legs under them after a quick turnaround in between seasons cut into their summer vacation.
The other three Matchday 2 contests feature the Border War with Tijuana hosting a re-made FC Juárez side that made yet another splashy acquisition, bringing controversial defender Carlos Salcedo back to Liga MX after a brief experiment in MLS with Toronto FC, a Puebla-Santos match that promises some offensive fireworks (both teams scored 4 goals in their season openers), and the least-appealing match on the Liga MX calendar – Necaxa at Querétaro.