Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club de Fútbol Pachuca
Date: Sunday, September 15th
Time: 7:45 p.m. Eastern, 6:45 p.m. Central, 4:45 p.m. Pacific, 11:45 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreób, Coah.)
Referees: REF: Oscar Mejia Garcia, AR1: Juan Carlos Salinas Salinas, AR2: Jorge Antonio Sánchez Espinoza, 4TH: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo
All-time record: Santos holds the slight edge, winning 21 to Pachuca’s 20 with 20 draws between the teams across all competitions. Santos has a 20 to 17 lead in Liga MX play, with 17 draws. The teams met when were both in the Segunda División A (now Ascenso MX), with Pachuca winning twice, Santos winning once, and the clubs drawing once over the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons. The clubs also drew 1-1 in the 2008-09 SuperLiga and met in the 2018 Apertura Copa MX tournament, with Pachuca winning once and the teams drawing once as well. The last time the teams met in Torreón they played to a 0-0 draw back on April 7 in the 2019 Clausura.
Santos Laguna (5W 1D 1L) has been a force at home, winning all four games at Estadio Corona TSM and outscoring opponents 12-2 in those four games. They’ll host Pachuca (2W 2D 4L), who has struggled away from Estadio Hidalgo. Their lone road win was against Puebla (1W 3L 3D) back in Week 5.
Santos has been firing on all cylinders this season, with their lone blemish a tough loss at Necaxa (4W 2D 2L). Guillermo Almada’s club has bought in to his system of relentless pressing and counterattacking and the results speak for themselves. Their 16 goals for is tied for second behind the aforementioned Necaxa, their eight goals conceded is also tied for second behind UNAM Pumas (4W 0D 4L) and league leaders Querétaro (5W 2D 1L). Julio Furch has five goals and Brian Lozano has four, which are good enough for third- and fourth-place respectively. Lozano’s form earned the winger a call up to Uruguay’s national team where he played a combined 52 minutes for La Celeste against Costa Rica and the United States.
Last season, Pachuca finished seventh and drew eventual champions Tigres on aggregate, only losing due to Tigres’ higher seeding. Pachuca made a lot of moves during the past offseason, however it seems to have backfired spectacularly. Tuzos now sit in 14th place and are four points out of a Liguilla spot. And while there’s still a lot of soccer left to be played, their schedule includes not only Santos, but games against Tijuana (3W 1D 3L), Cruz Azul (2W 4D 2L), Monterrey (4W 0D 4L), Tigres (3W 4D 1L), and Pumas - all of whom are currently ahead of them in the standings.
Pachuca has their destiny in their hands, and while their offense has scored a respectable 14 goals, they’ve also allowed 14 goals. The only teams who have allowed more are Puebla (1W 3D 3L) with 15 and Veracruz (0W 1D 6L) with 22. The only holdover on defense from last season’s regular starters are Oscar Murillo and Emmanuel García, with Alfonso Blanco, Stiven Barreiro, and Raúl López, being replaced by Rodrigo Rey, Gustavo Cabral, and Kevin Álvarez respectively. While this isn’t necessarily bad, the defense hasn’t come together as a cohesive unit as of yet.
Pachuca will be getting back Franco Jara, who sat out the 2-0 loss to Atlético San Luis (3W 2D 2L) last time out having picked up a red card in the prior match against América (4W 3D 1L). Jara’s three goals lead the team, while Romario Ibarra, Víctor “Pocho” Guzmán, and Jorge “Burrito” Hernández have two each so far through Pachuca’s eight games.
Santos should be the clear favorites, however they can’t afford to take Pachuca lightly. Their pressing and counterattacking should give Pachuca fits, as they tend to have a more methodical build-up on offense. Pachuca’s best bet is to try and capitalize on set pieces early and drop players back to help out the defense. While not it’s not impossible to think Pachuca could grab a point out of the match, they’ll need to play better than they hacve all season to accomplish this feat.