UNAM Pumas and Toluca got new goalkeepers after trading their respective starting keepers from last season, both of whom are named Alfredo. Toluca and Mexico National team veteran Alfredo Talavera will be Pumas’ starting keeper after arriving in CDMX in exchange for keeper Alfredo Saldivar, who was Pumas’ starting keeper last season even after getting heavily criticized in past seasons. Pumas also acquired another keeper from Toluca, Ramon Pasquel, who comes on loan. Pasquel would be a boost compared to keepers like Jose Castillo, who never challenged Saldivar even when the latter struggled.
Alfredo Talavera has been one of the top keepers in Mexico this past decade. After coming through the ranks of Chivas, he could never earn the starting spot with Oswaldo Sanchez and then later on Luis Michel taking claim of it. After moving to Toluca however, not only did he take the starting spot but became a NT quality goalkeeper. The tournament that placed him on the map was the 2011 Gold Cup. In that tournament he first gained ground when Jesus Corona didn’t make the squad after the fallout from him getting a six game suspension in the league for head butting a member of Morelia’s coaching staff after a massive brawl in the Semifinals of the Clausura 2011 tournament. Then during the tournament, starter Guillermo Ochoa was part of the five players that had to withdraw because of a accidental positive Clenbuterol doping test, which meant that Talavera would start the rest of the tournament as Mexico won. After that, Talavera was constantly Mexico second or third keeper in almost every tournament, including both 2014 and 2018 World Cups. With Toluca, Talavera won the 2010 Bicentenario tournament and had been the starting keeper through the decade. Yet in the final years, his level had dropped somewhat. More importantly though were the strong rumors in Toluca that he had been part of problems inside the club. Talavera is married to the daughter of ex-Toluca director, Jaime Leon and there were rumors he had problems first with ex-coach Hernan Cristante and now with current coach Jose Manuel de la Torre (who oddly enough was the Mexican NT coach in the 2011 Gold Cup). There is also the rumor that they wanted to give the starting spot to Luis Garcia and Talavera had too high a salary to just sit on the bench. Whatever the decision, Toluca wanted to part with Talavera and Pumas was the best candidate for that.
Alfredo Saldivar’s career in Pumas had more lows than highs. With a Pumas tradition in recent memory of producing their own keepers, Saldivar’s rise came at the expense of ex-Pumas favorite Alejandro Palacios. Saldivar had some standout moments especially in penalty kicks and was liked by fans from coming through the youth teams, although he always had stretches of making mistakes. Unfortunately for Saldivar, his tendency to make mistakes really cost them especially because they often came against Pumas’ biggest rival, America. In the 2018 Apertura Season, Pumas had one of the best recent campaigns, finishing in third place and getting to the Liguillas. They went past Tigres in the Quarterfinals and faced America in the semis, where after a 1-1 tie in the first leg, Pumas would crash out in an embarrassing 6-1 loss. In that game Saldivar had an awful performance, costing Pumas goals in what is easily the worst loss against America in years if not decades. Saldivar never recovered from that, but he would make things worse with mistakes in key games especially in last season, Clausura 2020. Pumas had a great start and was undefeated but that streak came to an end with a 2-1 loss against Morelia in a game where Saldivar gifted Morelia the tying goal. Then in the big game against America, Saldivar made a terrible mistake after passing a ball to America’s Federico Viñas, who scored the tap in. The game finished 3-3 (with America getting a last minute goal for the tie) and Saldivar became Pumas’ Public Enemy #1. Saldivar leaving isn’t a surprise and it might be a bigger surprise why Toluca gets him; although he has experience for a second keeper, as it seems Luis Garcia is set to be Toluca’s keeper.
The Pumas vs Toluca seems like a win-win trade. Toluca gets rid of an important player but one who might have been toxic and who had a high salary for a cash-strapped team. Pumas gets rids of the most hated player of the team and although is old football wise at age 37, they also get a prospect in Ramon Pasquel. One of the problems with the Saldivar situation is that even with his struggles, he seemed to be the best keeper as Pumas’ second keeper, Jose Castillo, had shown a lot less in his few appearances with the team. With this move, Pumas make the first signings for the new season, although the recent rumors about the lack of funds, might mean they are the only ones for the upcoming Apertura 2020.