Hoping to get their first win of the season, Pumas will make their home debut as they face Mazatlan FC. Mazatlan meanwhile will be making their first visit to the Estadio Olimpico Universitario as they hope to build from their opening day victory over Necaxa; a tough task in the noon sun against a Pumas side that is weakened from last season but still showing some good things, as evidenced by their opening tie away to Tijuana.
Pumas is coming from one of their best seasons in recent history. After the team was expected to flop when then-manager Michel left a week before the season, interim Coach Andres Lillini was able to get the team clicking to the point they finished in second place and got to the final. Unfortunately for them they lost the final, and it was probably a golden opportunity. As opposed to other teams including Leon, it seems they will not have a chance for a title for some time. After the season, financial problems forced the team to sell off star player Carlos Gonzalez. They also lost players like Andres Iniestra and Alejandro Mayorga, and didn’t get any additions with the exception of players like Martin Rodriguez returning from loans. Pumas started the season with a disappointing result after a 0-0 tie against struggling Xolos, but it was an away game in a stadium were historically Pumas always suffers. Pumas had opportunities including missing key chances, and they could have deserved the victory. They will be favored against Mazatlan, but they will need to improve offensively. With only Juan Ignacio Dinenno up top, it’s expected they will have fewer opportunities to score this season.
Mazatlan FC started the season with a 3-2 win. Coach Tomas Boy seems to continue just like they finished this past season as they closed out by improving in their play. That being said they defeated Necaxa, a team that nobody had much expectations for coming into the season. They will have a nuch tougher hurdle against a Pumas team playing at home, in conditions they haven’t faced. Only two teams play at 12:00 PM in Mexico, Pumas and Toluca. Both of those teams traveled to Mazatlan to face the team in their opening season. Thus Mazatlan will face tough conditions against a team that looks to be a lot better than Necaxa. Still, they have a more experienced coach and looked to be clicking on the offense. Yet there is no doubt that they are clear underdogs on Sunday.
Pumas will hope to have a repeat of last season, but even if they don’t get close to overachieving their way to a final they are expected to at least be a strong candidate to get to the Liguilla. Even when the team was dismantled, it was done less than expected, with players like Juan Ignacio Dinenno remaining on the team. Mazatlan FC will be the exact to test to see if their season will be a success or a disappointment.
Game: Club Universidad Nacional vs. Mazatlán Fútbol Club
Date: Sunday, January 17th
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 p.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. Pacific, 6:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Olímpico Universitario (Ciudad de México, CDMX)
Referees: REF: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AR1: Telly Salvador Saldivar Guzman, AR2: Michel Ricardo Espinoza Avalos, 4TH: Brian Omar Gonzalez Veles, VAR: José Alfredo Peñaloza Soto, AVAR: Fabrice Paul Plancon-J
Television: United States - TUDN, Univision; Mexico -TUDN, Las Estrellas; Argentina - Las Estrellas; Belize - ESPN2; Costa Rica - ESPN2; Croatia - Arena Sport 3; Dominican Republic - ESPN2; El Salvador - ESPN2; Guatemala - ESPN2; Honduras - ESPN2; Nicaragua - ESPN2; Panama - ESPN2; Spain - Footters