Game: Fútbol Club Juárez vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Friday, September 4th
Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern, 9:30 p.m. Central, 7:30 p.m. Pacific, 2:30 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Olímpico Benito Juárez (Ciudad Juárez, Chih.)
Referees: REF: Marco Antonio Ortiz Nava, AR1: Mario Jesús López Carrillo, AR2: Cesar Cerritos García, 4TH: Guillermo Pacheco Larios, VAR: Carlos Ayala Cuéllar, AVAR: Oscar Mejia Garcia
All-time record: Santos has never lost to FC Juárez, winning four and drawing two across all competitions. The last time the clubs met, Santos won 2-1 at Benito Juárez thanks to a Brian Lozano penalty deep in stoppage time. Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre also scored for Santos while Flavio Santos scored Juárez’ lone goal.
The book on Santos Laguna (2W 2D 3L) can really be written in two chapters: at home, and away. At home they’re a juggernaut, not losing in their last 26 games (19 wins, 7 draws). During that same stretch however, they’ve won 6, drawn 5, and lost 14 on the road. They’ll have a good opportunity to improve on that when they head to Juárez to face off against Los Bravos (1W 3D 3L).
To their credit, Juárez has gotten some favorable results against good teams. They drew León () 0-0 at home, drew Pumas () 1-1 in CU while down two players, and lost 3-2 to Cruz Azul () in Estadio Azteca. They have some talent on the roster including former Santos winger Eryc “La Culebra” Castillo and recent addition Marco Fabián.
Juárez also hasn’t conceded a ton of chances either. Their nine goals conceded have them tied for ninth in the league and is one less than Santos. The knock on them however is their offense, which has scored just six goals so far. If Fabián, Culebra, and forwards Dario Lezcano and Flavio Santos can get on the same page they have the potential to be dangerous.
Santos needs to be able to pull everything together in a consistent fashion, especially on the road. Goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo has been solid in his first season as the number one for Santos, center back Matheus Dória has been rock solid, and they got a good performance from right back Josecarlos Van Rankin and center back Hugo Rodríguez in the last match. Van Rankin however has only played 225 minutes and Rodríguez has been inconsistent, along with Félix Torres who has played both left back and center back this season.
The midfield has been the bread-and-butter of Santos for a while now, and this incarnation is no different. While he was on the bench last week, Fernando Gorriarán is the tireless engine in the center of the pitch and is having a breakout season. Diego Valdés, Adrián Lozano, Ulíses Rívas, and Brayan Garnica have also been brilliant in fits and starts, with Garnica having one of his best games in recent memory last time out. The issue however is also with consistency, as even Valdés has disappeared at times. The biggest issue continues to be the forwards. Octavio Rivero contributed a goal in his first start of the season last week, but he, “Mudo” Aguirre, and Julio Furch have combined for just two goals on the season.
While it won’t be easy for Santos, Juárez is a great opportunity to get a much needed road victory and finally get everyone on the same page. Santos has shown us glimpses of this throughout the season, and if they can unlock that in a consistent fashion they will pose big problems for the rest of the league - especially if Brian Lozano can return to the lineup at any point. Juárez meanwhile will find Santos a tough foe, but if they can get a positiive result it may be a galvanizing point for them as well. Both teams have the potential to impress; now one or both just needs to step up and do it.