Game: Club Atlético Monarcas Morelia vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Friday, July 27th
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Morelos (Morelia, Michoacán)
Referees: REF: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez, AR1: Alberto Morin Méndez, AR2: Israel Valenciano Torres, 4TH: Angel Monroy Bello
Monarcas Morelia (0W 0D 1L) heads back to Michoacán with something to prove. On the heels of a disappointing 2-0 loss to Toluca, they head home to face defending champions Santos Laguna (1W 0D 0L).
Morelia’s offense was going to be a concern from the moment they sent Raul Ruidíaz to the Seattle Sounders, and their flat performance last week did nothing to dispel the worries. Irven Ávila was brought in during the offseason to replace Ruidíaz, however he’ll need to do better than the one shot he got off against Toluca. The link between Ávila, Carlos Fierro, and Diego Valdés has the potential to be something remarkable if all three can perform to their potential. Until this is the case however, Morelia will continue to struggle against quality teams.
Defending champions Santos are a quality team, however how much quality isn’t yet known. Santos looked dominant against Lobos BUAP last week, but that isn’t saying much.
There are still questions that beg to be asked: can the defense cope with the loss of Carlos Izquierdoz and Néstor Araujo? Gerardo Alcoba and Hugo Nervo looked decent enough, but at times the miscommunications were evident. Lobos’ lone goal wasn’t either man’s fault, but there were times that a better team would have capitalized against them.
Can the offense cope with the loss of Djaniny Tavares? So far they have. Julio Furch and Jonathan Rodríguez both looked great, but the qualifier is again that it was against Lobos BUAP.
Monarcas will prove a much tougher test and in a just world, a win would be enough to convince people that they’re for real like last season. In reality however, while it will help build up the confidence of skeptical fans (and media) it probably won’t be enough to silence the doubters.
That’s ok though. Few believed Santos would win last season except for Santos, but in the end, that was more than enough.