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Who to root for in Liga MX?

Now that Liga MX will stream matches in English, you need to pick a team.

Univision recently announced that they’re going to stream 46 Liga MX matches, and this caused quite the stir - especially for people who love soccer but couldn’t get into Liga MX because of the language barrier (I’ll scold those of you who follow La Liga or watch the English Premier League on illegal Russian streams later). I’m personally happy to be able to help more people get into the most watched league in the United States.

So one of the first things you should do is pick a team to follow. It’s always easier to follow a league when you have a team to root for, and I figured I would help you out in making a decision you’ll probably spend the rest of your life with. So here are the 18 teams currently in Liga MX with a reason why you should root for them.

Club América - Located in Mexico City, América is the glory club in the league. The team has the most titles (12), plays in the biggest stadium (Estadio Azteca, where the Mexican National Team plays), and has some of the biggest stars in Miky Arroyo and Oribe Peralta. While having a bit of a down season, don’t count them out for very long. Their biggest rivalry is with Chivas in El Súper Clásico, although they have local rivalries against Cruz Azul and UNAM Pumas.

Atlas - One of two clubs playing in Guadalajara (Mexico’s second largest city), Atlas is a workman-like team. Not very flashy, they’ve only won the league once - back in 1950-51, although in recent years they’ve usually been in the middle of the table. Their best known player is the ageless Rafa Márquez, who at 38 still represents - and captains - Mexico. Their biggest rivalry is with Chivas in the Clásico Tapatío.

Chiapas - Chiapas plays in Tuxtla Gutiérrez in the south of Mexico, and is actually the second iteration of the club after the first moved to Querétaro to replace the recently relegated team there (think of today’s Chiapas as Liga MX’s Cleveland Browns). Also known as Jaguares, Chiapas has managed to escape relegation since their re-birth in 2013. Their best known player is midfielder Christian “Hobbit” Bermúdez, and they don’t have a real rivalry with any teams (although some fans are probably still upset at the original Jaguares moving to Querétaro).

Cruz Azul - The second of Mexico City’s three Liga MX teams, the team is known as Los Cementaros as they were founded by a cement mixing company. Cruz Azul has won the league eight times, and has made the playoffs more often than not in recent history. Former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Rafael Baca is perhaps the most recognizable name on the team for MLS followers. Cruz Azul’s biggest rivals are Club América, and they play in the Clásico Joven.

Chivas Guadalajara - The Los Angeles Dodgers to América’s New York Yankees, Chivas are inarguably one of Mexico - and the Western Hemisphere’s - best known teams. Second to América in titles with 11, Chivas (Spanish for goat) are also known for only fielding Mexican players since 1908. Currently their most well known players are Alan Pulido and Eduardo “Chofis” López, however they are perhaps better known for developing players such as former MLS striker Omar Bravo and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. Their biggest rivals are the aforementioned Club América and Atlas.

León - La Fiera (The Beast) was only promoted back into Liga MX in 2012, however has a rich history in the top flight, having their names engraved on the Liga MX trophy seven times. Playing in the city of León, their best known players are United States National Team goalkeeper William Yarbrough, defender Ignacio “Nacho” Gonzalez, and Argentine striker Mauro Boselli. León’s biggest rival is Ascenso MX (the second division)’s Irapuato, however they do share a bit of a rivalry with Liga MX’s Pachuca as well as a budding rivalry with Tijuana.

Monterrey - Only about two hours drive from the Texas border, Los Rayados (The Stripes) have historically been a very good team. While winning Liga MX only four times, they’ve gone on to win the CONCACAF Champions League three times in succession from 2010-11 to 2012-13. They play in a brand new stadium (Estadio BBVA Bancomer, opened in 2015), however their old stadium had one of the best views of any stadium in the world. Their best known players are USMNT defender Edgar Castillo and Argentina forward (and MLS Sueño winner) Rogelio Funes Mori, and their biggest rivals are UANL Tigres, who play about 20 minutes away from Monterrey.

Monarcas Morelia - Playing in the central city of Morelia, this team has fallen on some hard luck lately but has always seemed to persevere. The club has been able to stave off relegation for a few years now - no small feat when taking into account that Mexico bases relegation upon the average of the last three seasons in the league. Morelia is still in danger, so if you want to pick a club where you can really say you liked them back when they were bad, this might be your one. Their best player is Peruvian striker Raúl Ruidíaz, and their lone Liga MX title came back in 2000. Monarcas doesn’t have a real rivalry with anyone.

Necaxa - Playing in Aguascalientes in central Mexico, Necaxa is back in Liga MX after several seasons in the Ascenso MX. Los Rayos (The Lightning Bolts) have won the Liga MX three times however, and upon their return made the playoffs during the 2016 Apertura. Former MLS forward Fabián Espíndola plays for Necaxa, as does Chilean striker Edson Puch. Their biggest rivals are Ascenso MX club Atlante.

Pachuca - Playing in Pachuca in east-central Mexico, Los Tuzos (The Gophers) have won Liga MX six times and were last promoted in 1998. Former LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez and Mexico National Team forward Hirving “Chucky” (pronounced CHOO-kee) Lozano are the club’s best known players. Pachuca doesn’t have any real rivalries.

Puebla - Playing in the eponymous central Mexican city, Puebla has fallen on hard times lately. Puebla has only made the playoffs once since 2010, and as of this writing are in danger of being relegated. That said they do have a long history in Liga MX, having won the title twice. The Soccer Hall of Fame is also in Puebla. Argentine goalkeeper Cristian Campestrini is one of the better players on the team. Puebla’s big rivalry is with Veracruz, who play in the Clásico Del Sur.

Querétaro - Los Gallos Blancos (The White Roosters) play in the center-east of Mexico, and are one of the founders of the Ascenso MX. On the fifth iteration of the club (the previous four moved out of Querétaro), the club has enjoyed a measure of success as of late. Fans in the United States will probably recognize USMNT left back Jonathan Bornstein or former MLS Golden Boot winner Camilo Sanvezzo. Querétaro enjoys rivalries with León and Atlas.

Santos Laguna - Santos plays in the northern city of Torreón and is one of the newer clubs in Liga MX, having been formed in 1983. If the green and white hoops are reminiscent of Scotland’s Celtic, that’s no accident - the club models itself on the Scottish giants both on the pitch and off, with their humanitarian outreach a large part of the club’s footprint. With Tijuana, they’re one of two clubs currently doing English-language social media. Ex-Portland Timbers left back Jorge Villafaña is a recognizable name for fans in the United States, and Ventura Alvarado is cap tied to the U.S. as well. Other players to watch are Cape Verdean forward Djaniny and Uruguayan forward Jonathan Rodríguez. Santos has no real rivals.

Toluca - Toluca is one of the more successful clubs in Liga MX, having won the title ten times and always being in the thick of the playoff hunt. Los Diablos Rojos (The Red Devils) play in the recently renovated Estadio Nemesio Díez in downtown Toluca, and are led by 40 year old midfielder Sinha, who played in his 600th match with the club in the past week. Mexican National Team goalkeeper Alfredo “Tala” Talavera and midfielder Rubens Sambueza are the players to pay attention to. Toluca’s biggest rivals are Toros Neza in the Segunda Division (which is the third division in Mexico), and they play in the Clásico Mexiquense.

UANL Tigres - One of the most consistently good teams in Liga MX, Tigres got their start as a college club with the University of Nuevo León. Under the guidance of Ricardo ”Tuca” Ferretti since 2010 (an eternity in Liga MX), Tigres has won three of their five titles and are the current Liga MX champions. American José Francisco “Gringo” Torres might be the best known player for fans in the United States, however French striker André-Pierre Gignac is probably the best player in Liga MX. Tigres’ biggest rivalry is with Monterrey.

UANM Pumas - Pumas are the third Mexico City club in Liga MX, and like Tigres got their start as a college club. With their iconic logo, Pumas has won seven Liga MX titles and four international titles in their history, and play at Estadio Olímpico - the site of the 1968 Summer Olympics. Their best known players are goalkeeper Alejandro “Pikolín” Palacios and Uruguayan forward Matías Britos. Their biggest rivals are Club América, who they play in the Clásico Capitalino, although they do share a rivalry with Cruz Azul as well.

Veracruz - Playing on the east coast of Mexico, Veracruz finds themselves in a familiar position - trying to stave off relegation. Los Tiburones (The Sharks) have two Liga MX titles, both of which came shortly after World War II. Veracruz does have some decent talent on the pitch, including Mexican forward Eduardo “Lalo” Herrera and Argentine forward Martín Bravo. Veracruz’ biggest rivalry is El Clásico Del Sur with Puebla.

Xolos Tijuana - Playing just minutes south of San Diego, Xolos is celebrating their 10th anniversary as a club this season. They have a lot of fans on both sides of the border, and describe themselves as “un equipo sin fronteras” - a club without borders. The other club with an existing large English-language social media presence, Tijuana won their only Liga MX title in 2012. The club also has players who hold both Mexican and American citizenship, including Joe Corona, Michael Orozco, Alejandro Guido, and Paul Arriola, and their biggest rivals are León (although they share a bit of a friendly rivalry with MLS’ LA Galaxy).