Game: Club de Fútbol Monterrey vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Sunday, April 14th
Time: 9:30 p.m. Eastern, 8:30 p.m. Central, 6:30 p.m. Pacific, 1:30 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio BBVA Bancomer (Guadalupe, N.L.)
Referees: REF: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AR1: Miguel Ángel Hernández Paredes, AR2: Telly Salvador Saldivar Guzman, 4TH: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán
It’s the match-up that could have decided who was the best team in North America. Instead it will likely only help determine where Monterrey (6W 5D 2L) finishes in the Liguilla race and whether Santos Laguna (4W 4D 5L) makes the Liguila at all. Monterrey has been dominant at home this season with a 3W 4D 0L record and a +10 goal differential at Estadio BBVA Bancomer. They also just finished dispatching Sporting Kansas City 10-2 on aggregate in the Concacaf Champions League Semifinal.
Rayados have been flawed at times however. Last week they lost 5-1 to a Toluca team that sits just one point above Santos in the standings. Pete Schlenker covers Monterrey for FMF State of Mind remarked that it has been “A little bit of Jeckyll and Hyde past two weeks, as they looked like world beaters against SKC and like they’d never played professional soccer in their lives in the 5-1 loss to Toluca.”
Santos Laguna on the other hand was eliminated by Tigres UANL (9W 2D 2L) in the CCL Semifinal by a 5-3 aggregate. In their last Liga MX outing they fought to a 0-0 draw with Pachuca (6W 3D 4L) after going down a player in the 40th minute when Jesús Angulo picked up his second yellow card in seven minutes. Santos’ form away from home is just 1W 2D 4L, suggesting they ‘re in for a tough night in Nuevo León.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Los Guerreros announced the hiring of Guillermo Almada as their head coach on Thursday, and “the Uruguayan Guardiola” as he’s been called comes to Torreón having managed Tacuarembó and River Plate in his native Uruguay before moving to Barcelona SC in Ecuador. Almada has won championships with River and Barcelona as well as Uruguayan manager of the year in 2012 and 2015 and Ecuadoran manager of the year in 2016.
Almada won’t start his tenure until next season however, so it’s up to Ruben Duarte and the current staff to put together a plan to handle Monterrey. It’s not an easy ask, however if Mr. Hyde shows up at Estadio BBVA Bancomer it could be just the opening Santos needs to get back on track to make the Liguilla.
A previous version incorrectly stated that Guillermo Almada had already joined Santos Laguna.