Matchday 2 kicks off tonight at 9:05 pm local time (CT) in Guadalajara when Atlas and Mazatlán FC go toe to toe with each other. Both clubs have yet to make an appearance this season thanks to the two postponed matches from last weekend; Atlas-Toluca due to the embarrassing fact of the Jalisco’s bad pitch condition and the Mazatlán-León because of the high crime wave that hit the state of Sinaloa (also embarrassing, but mostly sad).
After Necaxa and Atlético de San Luis opened the season last week, this is yet another unappealing match to start the week to say the least, as both of these teams failed to even make the Repechaje last semester. Following their re-peat title run in May, Atlas managed to win just 3 games last season, finishing 17th with just 13 points. Mazatlán FC weren’t much better, winning the same amount of games but garnering four additional draws, giving them 17 points, good for 14th overall.
It’s an especially interesting time for Atlas and their fanbase, as it’s the first time in nearly two and a half years their head coach is someone other than Diego Cocca. After Cocca left at season’s end to join Tigres, the tapatío club agreed to terms with Benjamín Mora in what will be his fist ever head coaching stint at the top flight in Mexican football. The loss of Cocca will no doubt be felt in the club as they enter a new era.
On a positive note for the home side however, they did manage to essentially keep the vast majority of this incredibly successful roster together for Mora, who’ll look to replicate Cocca’s achievements. Their only departures this offseason were CB Emanuel Aguilera and LW Lucas Rodríguez. In their place came the arrival of CB Carlos Robles and LW Brian Lozano on loan from Santos Laguna. They also added Jaziel Martínez on loan from Raya2 (Rayados’ Liga de Expansión club). In short, Mora will have a championship proven roster to work with.
Looking over at Mazatlán FC, head coach Gabriel Caballero enters his third season at the helm (second full) after a disappointing end to the Apertura 2022 season, winning just 1 out of their final 9 matches. Had they won just one more match, they would’ve taken Necaxa’s spot as 12th and played a Repechaje match. Despite that, much of the club was kept intact, including the purchase of Nico Benedetti from América after his year-long loan spell. The only two notable changes came at the striker position. The departures of Brian Rubio and Gonzalo Sosa were covered by the arrivals of Aké Loba on loan from Nashville SC and Ariel Nahuelpán on a free transfer from Querétaro. Not too shabby if you ask me for last season’s 3rd lowest scoring club (17 goals).
Atlas are hungry to get back on the pitch to prove to everyone last season was a fluke and they very much remain relevant. Whether Mora can work Cocca’s magic with this club remains to be seen, but they should get off to a good start against a modest Mazatlán club tonight.