Monterrey hosted Leones Negros UdG in both team’s opening fixture of the 2019-20 Copa MX. This season’s Copa MX competition has abandoned the “Apertura” and “Clausura” formats, and instead will be played over both league tournaments from July until April 2020.
Monterrey went into the match as the overwhelming favorite to pick up a win in their opening group stage fixture against Leones Negros of the Ascenso. Monterrey, however, are in a little bit of a crisis going into the match because of the dire start to the season, including a bad loss away from home at newly promoted Atlético San Luis. And while the Copa MX is certainly not a priority for either club, a decent win at home for Los Rayados would go a long way towards keeping the wolves of fan anger at bay for manager Diego Alonso.
Despite being a cup competition without a lot riding on the result, Monterrey fielded a fairly strong side, including a return to the senior team for Uruguay international Jonathan Urretaviscaya, who lined up in the attacking midfield role. Rogelio Funes Mori got the start up front, with Jesús Gallardo and Dorlan Pabón on the wings. Jonathan Gonzalez and Charly Rodriguez got the start in central midfield, with César Montes, Nico Sanchez, Miguel Layún and academy player Daniel Parra in defense.
Monterrey had some early chances, but seemed a tad snakebit in the first half, unable to convert their possession and good play into shots on goal. Leones Negros didn’t look a whole lot better going forward either, and it seemed that the second-division club was looking to snatch a goal from a set piece rather than commit fully to the attack.
Right before halftime, Funes Mori appeared to win a penalty, but the referee waved it off without hesitation. Replay indicated that perhaps it should have been a penalty, but the referee ignored the appeals for a second look.
Monterrey went into halftime level and without scoring a goal for over 180 minutes, as they had gone the second half against Club América, and the entire match against San Luis goalless before tonight’s Copa MX match.
Monterrey would finally break their scoreless streak and get on the board from a corner kick in the 61st minute from a Sanchez header. Sanchez is like having another striker in the box on set pieces, and he placed his header well, ensuring that the Leones keeper had no chance to make a save.
Monterrey would get on the board again a few minutes later, as Layún’s cutback to Pabón for a cross that found Funes Mori to once again drive a header past the helpess Leones keeper. That would pretty much be the end of the night for both Funes Mori and Urretaviscaya, who both came off in the 70th minute for Avilés Hurtado and Ángel Zaldívar
Leones Negros would get a goal back in the 72nd minute, and it the ending was perhaps a little more interesting than it should have been. Rodriguez came off in the 82nd minute to be replaced by academy player William Meija. Zaldívar also appeared to get injured in the stoppage time, but in the end Los Rayados start off their Copa MX campaign with a win.
On to Saturday’s big match against Club León, as Monterrey is still looking for their first win in Liga MX, with a third straight loss to start the season would be almost unthinkable. Perhaps tonight’s result will give the club the momentum they need to grab a win at home this weekend.