Garzavdorados Club Tijuana
Crossing the Border

Americans in Liga MX: Previewing the Apertura

With more and more Liga MX-based players filling spots on Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. national team, ASN's Jon Arnold provides an American-centric preview of the 2013 Liga MX Apertura.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
July 19, 2013
3:41 PM
Under Jurgen Klinsmann, an increasing number of national team players come from Liga MX clubs. Part of this is timing, and part of it is style. No matter the reason, here's a look at the Americans to watch ahead of Friday night's opening matches.

The Americans: We’ll start with Xolos, the logical starting point when discussing Americans in Liga MX. There are seven Americans who could see time under new manger Jorge Almiron including three of the most familiar faces to United States national team fans: Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona, and Herculez Gomez. None of those players will be in action when the club opens its season Friday at Estadio Caliente. Castillo and Corona are still with the Gold Cup team and Gomez is out 1-2 months after a knee procedure. Also sidelined is U-20 midfielder Alejandro Guido, who took a knock in preseason and should be back in August.

Who will start the season for Tijuana? Greg Garza, for one. The Texan is healthy and has started in most of the club’s preseason matches and will easily fill Castillo’s absence.

“I think whenever the coach needs me, he knows I’m ready,” Garza told ASN after a preseason match earlier this month. “I think that’s the most important thing at any team. Being at any team, having the confidence of the coach day in and day out, and hopefully we’ll see where it goes and just take it from there.”

Garza also spoke to the Spanish-speaking media ahead of the opener against Atlas. There’s also a chance young Paul Arriola, who had a tremendous preseason, gets in to the first team. And since a half-dozen isn't quite enough Americans in the first team, U.S.-born Bruno Piceno could see time in Xolos’ midfield.

The Outlook: Tijuana should finish in the top eight to make the playoffs but a repeat of last Apertura when it won the title or mimicking their lengthy Libertadores run seems unlikely with the departures of Duvier Riascos, Alfredo Moreno, and coach Antonio Mohamed.

The Americans: There were times this offseason when it appeared DaMarcus Beasley would move on from los Camoteros, but the club brought him back and will probably use him the same way it did last season. Beasley often featured on the left side near the top for 45 minutes at a time. Meanwhile, Michael Orozco went to Puebla in this summer’s draft, a strange Mexican system that sees all in-league transfer deals completed over the course of the day, after being its regular right back last tournament. Yet, the club and player still haven’t come to terms on a deal. Whether Orozco signs or not, both players are still with the Gold Cup team and won’t feature in Sunday’s opener against Pumas.

The Outlook: Cash-strapped Puebla will be lucky to avoid being relegated this season. Any postseason action would come as a shock.

The Americans: Last season, Jose Torres had a strange pattern of starting every match and being substituted after 70 minutes, usually on the dot. He didn’t have a great postseason but could be boosted by good Gold Cup performances. That tournament has delayed the start of the season, though it wouldn’t have much affect on Jonathan Bornstein. The much-maligned defender hasn’t moved on from the team despite seeing only 94 minutes in the previous two seasons.

The outlook: Tigres had a phenomenal Clausura before falling well short of expectations with a first-round playoff exit. They return much of the same squad and have a decent chance at topping the table in the Apertura.

The American: Alonso Hernandez, an El Paso native, made three appearances for los Rayados’ first team last season and was in Turkey this summer with the U.S. U-20s. He didn’t dazzle in his two starts there but could similar spot minutes with Monterrey this season.

The Outlook: Monterrey is, as always, one of the stronger teams in the division on paper. They replaced Aldo de Nigris with Colombian striker Dorlan Pabon and also nabbed midfielder Lucas Silva from Toluca, good moves that could have them on the road to yet another continental championship.

The Others
Beyond those teams, U.S. U-20 and Santos teammates Benji Joya and Daniel Cuevas will look to break into a strong Guerreros starting line-up, and Ernest Nungaray is back with Morelia after spending the last few tournaments in the Ascenso with Neza.

There’s a handful of Americans still playing in the second division, like Sonny Guadarrama, who we profiled earlier this month, and Ventura Alvarado on loan from América. Jesus Padilla was born in San Jose, but made several appearances with Chivas last season. He’s now with Dorados. Marco Vidal, one of the players featured in Robert Andrew Powell’s must-read book “This Love is Not for Cowards”, will continue on with Lobos BUAP alongside Mexican legend and ex-MLS player Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Several other Mexican-Americans will crop up throughout the season, and we’ll let you know when they get in and see some time.

The Field
Returning champions América lost to key forward Christian Benitez and center back Diego Reyes to offseason transfers but could compete for the title again if Raul Jiminez finds his scoring touch. Santos and Cruz Azul also have realistic expectations for a top-three finish and a spot in Copa Libertadores.

Jon Arnold is an ASN contributing editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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