Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club de Fútbol Monterrey
Date: Sunday, July 3rd
Time: 8:05 p.m. Eastern, 7:05 p.m. Central, 5:05 p.m. Pacific, 12:05 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)
Referees: REF: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán, AR1: Pablo Israel Hernández Luna, AR2: Mauricio Nieto Torres, 4TH: Áxel Meza Méndez, VAR: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AVAR: Edgar Allan Morales Olvera
All-time record: Monterrey holds the all time edge, winning 34 to Santos’ 27 while the teams have drawn 28 times. In Liga MX play, Monterrey holds the 29 to 24 advantage with 26 draws. In the playoffs, Monterrey won their fourth championship 5-3 on aggregate in the 2010 Apertura. Santos won their fourth championship 3-2 on aggregate in the 2012 Clausura. They also met in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 Apertura with Monterrey winning that 3-0 on aggregate, again in the 2019 Apertura quarterfinal round where Rayados advanced 6-3 on aggregate en route to their fifth championship, and in the 2021 Clausura quarterfinal round where Santos advanced 3-2 on aggregate thanks to a late goal by Roni Prieto in the vuelta leg.
The clubs have also met in the Copa MX, with Santos winning twice to Monterrey’s once as well as in Concacaf Champions League twice with Monterrey winning both the 2011-12 Final 3-2 on aggregate and the 2012-13 Final on 4-2 aggregate. The last time the clubs met during the regular season, Monterrey beat Santos 1-0 back on April 9 in Monterrey thanks to a late goal from Luis Romo. The last time they met in Torreón, Monterrey picked up a rare win at TSM with a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Alfonso González and Duván Vergara while Brian Lozano got the lone goal for Santos back on September 26, 2021.
Santos Laguna will look to put the 2022 Clausura behind them, getting their 2022 Apertura underway on Sunday by hosting regional rivals Monterrey. After going winless in seven of their first eight games played at the start of the year including an embarrassing loss in the Concacaf Champions League to CF Montréal, Santos fired Pedro Caixinha and brought in Eduardo Fentanes from Tampico Madera as a caretaker. Fentanes took good care of the club, picking up points in eight of the final eleven games and bringing Santos within one point of making the Repechaje, and was named the permanent manager during the offseason.
Another big addition during the Clausura was forward Harold Preciado, who joined from Deportivo Cali in Week 4 and scored six goals in 14 games. He quickly became a fan favorite for his goalscoring as well as his fearlessness and grit, something Santos seemed to lack a little for the past few seasons. Preciado will be joined this season by the arrival of forward Javier Correa from Racing Club and midfielder Juan Brunetta from Parma in Italy’s Serie B. Correa will most likely provide backup for Preciado and Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre, while Brunetta will likely take the attacking midfielder role with Brian “Huevo” Lozano on the left and Leo Suárez on the right.
During the offseason, Santos sent forward Ignacio Jeraldino out on loan to Coquimbo Unido in his native Chile and released longtime midfielder Ulíses Rívas. Those two departures and the additions of Correa and Brunetta were the only major pieces of business that Santos did during the offseason, and it makes a lot of sense. Santos is a season removed from the Liguilla quarterfinals and two from being the runners-up against Cruz Azul, and looked immensely better under Fentanes. With mostly the same lineup from these seasons, Santos should not miss the repechaje again this season.
Monterrey meanwhile come into the season after a rather disappointing Clausura. Despite finishing seventh in the regular season, Rayados crashed out in the first round against Atlético San Luis. Rayados kept head coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich on for a second season, but the expectations of the fans means Vucetich is most likely starting with a short leash.
Rayados didn’t make a whole lot of moves during the offseason, but the ones they did make were big ones. Vincent Janssen transferred to Royal Antwerp in Belgium, and his powerful presence at forward will be missed. Monterrey will also miss forward Joel Campbell, whose loan from León expired. Monterrey brought in a couple of forwards from Ecuadoran teams, picking up Rodrigo Aguirre from LD Universitaria de Quito and Joao Rojas from Emelec. Despite playing professionally for twelve years, Aguirre is only 27 and brings a wealth of experience, having played in his native Uruguay, Italy, Brazil, Ecuador, and most recently on loan with Necaxa where he picked up 12 goals in 38 games across three seasons. Rojas meanwhile has spent the majority of his career with Emelec, scoring 21 goals in 116 games for the Ecuadoran giants. Aguirre will most likely pair with Rogeilo Funes Mori. although both will back Funes Mori up when Vucetich plays in a single forward formation.
Both teams want to get off on a good note, but Santos might have the advantage hosting the game in Torreón. While Monterrey won in their last meeting at Estadio Corona, Santos has lost just ten regular season games at home in the past ten seasons. They’ll want to turn the page on a difficult season with a win at home against a regional rival that has historically had their number.