Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club de Fútbol Lobos de la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla
Date: Sunday, July 22nd
Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)
Referees: REF: Oscar Mejia Garcia, AR1: Miguel Angel Chua Ortiz, AR2: Jose de Jesus Baños Caballero, 4TH: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre
It’s been a whirlwind two months for Santos Laguna. Since lifting the Liga MX trophy in June, Santos has seen captain Carlos Izquierdoz get sold to Boca Juniors, Néstor Araujo get sold to Celta de Vigo, and Liga MX leading scorer Djaniny Tavares sold to Al-Ahli in Saudi Arabia. They were also soundly defeated in the Campeón de Campeones 4-0 by Tigres last weekend, looking shaky and coming into a Liga MX season where they are not favored to repeat.
It’s not all gloom and doom for Santos however. Several large pieces of last season’s team remain, including goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco, center back Gerardo Alcoba, midfielder José Juan “Gallito” Vázquez, and forwards Jonathan Rodríguez and Julio Furch. They also have plenty of young talent, with first team players Edwin Cetré and Jorge Villafaña getting minutes and a U17 team that won the U17 league last year.
Santos also gets a bit of a gimme, playing Lobos BUAP to start the season. Lobos are on borrowed time, having had to pay over $6 million US to remain in Liga MX after being in the relegation position at the end of the last season. They haven’t made many upgrades over their Clausura iteration, picking up Michael Orozco, Bryan Rabello, Abraham González, Francisco “Paco” Torres, and a few others to round out the squad.
The good news for Lobos is that they won’t be eligible for relegation this season either, as Liga MX has suspended the practice. In theory, Lobos can use this time to work on improving the club’s infrastructure and player pool and letting manager Francisco “Paco” Palencia get players in to buy into his system. What happens in practice remains to be seen.