Liga MX just finished its 13th week, with four more Jornadas left until the search for another Mexican league champion begins with the liguilla. More than halfway into the Apertura 2018, we’ve already seen many players break out with impressive and consistent performances, but some don’t get the credit they deserve from the media, national teams or fans. Here’s a list of a few:
Luis Manuel Garcia
The 25-year-old took over longtime starter Alfredo Talavera’s spot last season when Tala was injured, and Toluca finished top of the table with the second-best defense in the league and made it all the way to the finals, although Talavera was back for the playoffs. This season, Garcia actually took over for a healthy Talavera for six games. When the time comes to change goalkeepers, especially ones as experienced and revered as Tala, some teams spend years in mediocrity at the position in search of their next great No. 1, but it seems like Toluca already have theirs.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know. Statistically speaking, the second-most consistent goalkeeper in Liga MX behind Tiago Volpi is not Marchesin, or Nahuel, or Corona...it’s Puebla’s Nicolas Vikonis. With a 7.12 average match rating (via SofaScore), the Uruguayan also leads the league in saves (57) and saves inside the box (34). With stats like these, it’s a wonder why the Uruguayan national team has kept its distance from Vikonis or Morelia’s Sebastian Sosa, another underrated goalkeeper, as potential backups to Fernando Muslera.
Toño was Chivas’ starter not too long ago, yet, it’s this season where we have seen Rodriguez shine the most. Despite being on one of the weakest teams in Mexico, Rodriguez is a constant bright spot in Lobos’ defense, and he’s much less prone to goalkeeping blunders that somewhat tainted his Chivas days. Without Toño’s heroics, Lobos’ number of goals allowed this season (20) could be much, much higher.
He’s still relatively young (28), but Corral has long been a veteran of Querétaro’s back line. Corral leads the league with the highest accurate crossing percentage in players that have more than 10 crosses (44%). He may be getting too old for the national team at this point, but he should still be praised for all he does to help Los Gallos Blancos’ forwards.
Here’s a right-back that’s just the right age to debut with El Tri. At 21 years old, Mozo has shown himself to be a worthy of possessing a high work rate on both sides of the pitch. He can create plays up front, boasting one goal and two assists this season, and his 2.62 tackles won per game is a great start for a young player. If he continues to improve defensively, he could be wearing the green-and-white very soon.
Manny is a player that the media doesn’t cover much due to the wealth of young talent Pachuca possess. The 28-year-old left back is the second best player on the team, statistically speaking, after Victor Guzman with a 7.23 average match rating, and is always a threat on the left flank. Tuzo’s young core of Miguel Tapias, Pablo Lopez, Tony Figueroa and Alexis Peña are exciting, but you can’t forget about vets like Garcia.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Luis Romo became a regular starter in Queretaro after the unlimited potential he’s shown this season. He’s an absolute rock in the league’s second-best defense so far this season. Romo, at just 23 years old, is at the top of the defensive leaderboards. His 30 interceptions, 64 clearances and 14 blocked shots place him in the top 10 of each of those categories, and he’s not slowing down. A great center back prospect if there ever was one.
Chapo might not be the exciting attacking midfielder he once was, and no doubt his horrific leg injury in 2014 has played a part in that, but shame on you if you don’t consider him one of the best mids in the league right now. He’s been the heart and soul of Leon’s attack this season, with five goals to his name, and the lack of his presence can be clearly seen when he’s not on the field. He leads the league in key passes (35) and he quietly led all players with eight assists last season. To say ‘he’s still got it’ would be wrong. It never left him.
It’s incredibly difficult to find the good in a horrible team such as Atlas, but Ulises Cardona has done well this season. He’s one of the brighter youth prospects with Los Zorros. His 34 tackles show his defensive awareness, despite being an attacking midfielder, and not to mention he is one of only five Atlas players to find the back of the net so far this season.
Did you think Diego Lainez was the only teenager making waves in Liga MX? Try again. The 18-year-old Ruiz, who’s celebrating a birthday on the day this article is published, broke onto the scene this season and has impressed week in and week out. Credit to coach Rafael Puente for having confidence in Romo and Ruiz. The youngster’s energetic style and playmaking ability is impressive for his age, and his two goals and two assists stand out on a team dominated by Camilo Sanvezzo’s offense.
Ángel Zaldívar. Alan Pulido. Henry Martín. Are any of them having a better season than Alexis Vega? That’s debatable to some but it’s downright confusing that Vega hasn’t been called up at least once to the national team. In a world that doesn’t give El Tri many options at striker, the country has to take as many promising players seriously as possible. Vega has three goals and two assists this season on a liguilla-bound team where he, at many times, has pivotal role in the offense. Come on, Mexico. Give the guy a call-up.
Carlos Sebastian Ferreira
The 20-year-old Paraguayan striker is not only underrated by fans and media, but his OWN team as well. Ferreira is Morelia’s top scorer with five goals, even though he’s only played in nine games, and has only started in three. He’s clearly capable of a starting spot at this point as he’s been much more effective than Irven Ávila or Ray Sandoval, Morelia’s other attacking options. Let’s be honest, no one will easily replace Raul Ruidiaz’s scoring, but Ferreira is the closest Monarcas have.
This man came straight out of nowhere. A mid-season addition to the squad from Ascenso MX club Tapachula, Ramos has a whopping six goals in five games in Mexico’s top flight. He’s injected some valuable stamina in Lobos’ dull season, and has to be given some credit for their recent four-game unbeaten run.
So, there you have it. Pay attention to some of these guys for the next four weeks and beyond as some of them make a playoff run.
What do you think of these players? Any we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
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