Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club León
Date: Sunday, September 16th
Time: 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 p.m. Central, 2:00 p.m. Pacific, 9:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Cuah.)
Referees: REF: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez, AR1: Juan Carlos Salinas Salinas, AR2: Karen Janett Díaz Medina, 4TH: Alejandro Funk Villafañe
The international break was a break for most clubs, but Santos Laguna (4W 2D 2L) isn’t most clubs. While four Guerreros were with national teams (Gerardo Arteaga, José Abella, and Jesús Angulo were with Mexico and Ayrton Preciado was with Ecuador), the rest of the club went to North Carolina to play a friendly against the Charlotte Independence. Everyone is back in Torreón, now as Santos host Club León (3W 1D 4L).
In their last Liga MX outing, the defending champs got out to a good start but ended up succumbing to Toluca (4W 1D 3L) by a 2-1 scoreline in Toluca.
Santos presents no real weaknesses. The defense has the three Mexican national team debutantes in addition to center backs Matheus Doría and Hugo Nervo in front of goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco or Carlos Acevedo, both of whom have played excellent soccer this season. The midfield of Juan José “Gallito” Vázquez and Osvaldo Martínez has been solid, amplified by the stellar play on the wings by Brian Lozano and Jesús Isijara. Lozano and Angulo have built a formidable pairing on the left, as both are fearless on the attack while being cognizant of each other to know when to drop back into coverage. The forward pairing of Julio Furch and Jonathan Rodríguez have nine goals between them in the eight games played.
León comes in having lost at home to Pumas (4W 2D 2L) and looking much more vulnerable than their opponents. Goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota was brought in during the offseason as an upgrade over the much maligned William Yarbrough, but it’s difficult to say convincingly if the move worked. The defense of Juan Cornejo, Colombian national team center back William Tesillo, Andrés Mosquera, and Fernando Navarro hasn’t been able to consistently perform well. For every good performance like blanking Querétaro (4W 2D 2L) 4-0 there’s a 3-0 shellacking at the hands of Cruz Azul (6W 2D 0L).
The blame isn’t solely on the defense though. It’s hard to win any games if you’re not scoring, and León’s 10 goals put them tied for ninth overall in the league. Mauro Boselli, who has been in the top three in goals scored for five of his last six seasons in Liga MX, only has three goals in eight games. Luis “Chapo” Montes has just two goals in his eight matches.
The midfield must create more chances, and Boselli, Chapo, and the rest of León must convert these chances if they’re going to have any shot of becoming the second team to beat Santos in Torreón during this calendar year. Otherwise the slide down the table will continue.