2017 Clausura Liguilla Quarterfinal recap

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Greetings Cantina Patrons, we hope you have been enjoying the 2017 Liga MX Clausura playoffs as much as we have. Despite there being no surprises in the first round match-up results we can confirm that our podcast predictions were spot on. So, grab a pint of something frosty, pull up a chair and join us for this weeks round up.

I Feel Your Pain Bro

As expected the Rojinegros of Atlas once again crashed from the playoffs to the dismay of their hopefull fans. We were going to say without pain nor glory but judging by some of their fans reactions there clearly was much pain. The ‘Rojinegros’ last league Campionship was in the 1950-1951 season – 66 years ago. While Atlas were not favorites for the league title a victory over Chivas was very much in he cards. Atlas had won the first leg, at home at Jalisco stadium, by one goal. Perhaps, it wasn’t much of a difference but Chivas had now strubg together a five match winless streak having only scored once and off a penalty kick. Needles to say the Goats dominated the second-leg and leveled the series 1-1 to advance by having finished the season in better standing. “Ah you think failure plagues you? said the Atlista to the Cruz Azul fan. “You merely adopted the Cruzazuleada. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

Morelia’s fairytale comes to an End

Morelia had a thrilling finish to the regular season where they not only avoided relegation but managed to sneak into the league playoffs. Their first-round match-up against Xolos of Tijuana looked promising with the Monarchs edging out a one-nil win at home at Morelos stadium. However, just as it appeared that the curse of the league leaders was going to be set in motion Xolos made the most of the Caliente Stadium home advantage to win by two goals and advance to the semifinal.Perhaps the curse is not over yet as Tijuana must not face the mighty Tigres. “They are a great rival, champions of Mexico and have everything to repeat but we are concentrated on turding the tide in our favor,” said Miguel ‘Piojo’ Herrera after the match.

Chorizo Power loses it’s Spice

It might not seem like it, as there had been little noise, but the Diablos Rojos of Toluca are celebrating their centenial and expect to make the final to celebrate with a Championship win. The Diablos arrived to the playoffs on a four match winless streak only to stun Santos, at the Corona stadium, with a resounding 4-1 victory! All seemed well for the ‘Choriceros’ but on the return their leg they were made to suffer in their own devil’s cauldron of the Bombonera stadium. Santos very close of tying the series, winning 3-1, and putting the fear of God into the devils. “It seems that at home we are scared to execure our gameplay. I say it seems like it because I do not think it is fear, it is anxiety of wanting to do everything right and become unbeatable,’ Toluca boss Hernan Cristante told reporters after the match. Toluca’s next opponent will be another club that is having a difficlt time of winning at home: Chivas!

Savage Takedown!

There is nothing worse than losing to your cross town rivals like losing to them in lopsided fashion during the league playoffs. The Rayados Monterrey were no match for an on-fire Andre-Pierre Gignac and his Tigres who won the series with a humiliating 6-1 fashion: losing 4-1 at the Volcano followed by a 2-0 defeat at home. “This is the worst pain I have felt since being here, it is a difficult blow, I am beaten, very sad for what happened in this series. I want to thank the fans who supported us until the final minute…I am responsible for this defeat. Today I am beaten, truth be told I am hurt and sad because we could not achieved what we wanted,” lamented Antonio ‘Turco’ Mohamed during post match press conference.

Savage beatdown!

Following up on the Savage Takedown in Monterrey, there were also scenes of violence. For the second time(1st being in Veracruz) this season in opposing team’s stadiums, Tigres fans get fists flying at their faces and it wasn’t a fair fight. I read in one article, 50 fans taking turns beating a couple of Tigres fans. Just brutal. Why did this happen? During the return leg game in Rayado dominated BBVA stadium, when Tigres was obviously going to win the series, announcers commented that Nahuel Guzman was making fun of Edwin Cardona, by inflating his cheeks, calling him gordo/fat! The gloating may have gotten out of control on the field and spread to the fans, who had to be upset with their team’s result in the first place. The gloating was just adding fuel to the fire. These are the times where you need to wear the opposing team’s jersey underneath your team’s colors, just in case you are fleeing for your life.

Mole Tour Roster

NEW YORK (Tuesday, May 16, 2017) – The Mexican National Team held a press conference today to announce its roster ahead of upcoming matches against Croatia at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, on May 27, presented by Nissan, and against Ireland at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on June 1.


Goalkeepers: Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul), Guillermo Ochoa (Granada), Alfredo Talavera** (Toluca)

Defenders: Oswaldo Alanís** (Guadalajara), Néstor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Raúl López (Pachuca), Rafael Márquez (Atlas), Héctor Moreno (PSV Eindhoven), Diego Reyes (Espanyol), Luis Reyes (Atlas), Carlos Salcedo*** (Fiorentina)

Midfielders: Jonathan Dos Santos (Villarreal), Jesús Dueñas** (Tigres), Andrés Guardado (PSV Eindhoven), Erick Gutiérrez (Pachuca), Elías Hernández (León), Jorge Hernández (Pachuca), Héctor Herrera (Porto FC), Miguel Layún (Porto FC), Jesús Molina (Monterrey), Orbelín Pineda** (Guadalajara)

Forwards: Javier Aquino** (Tigres), Jesús Manuel Corona (Porto FC), Jurgen Damm** (Tigres), Marco Fabián*** (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jesús Gallardo (Pumas), Javier Hernández (Bayer Leverkusen), Raúl Jiménez** (Benfica), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Oribe Peralta (América), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad)

**Pending approval from his club
***Only available for New York game


The title says it all, Mexico lost 7-0 to Chile’s national team in Copa America Centenario’s final quarterfinal match up, and it is single handedly the worst loss for the Mexican National Team in all its history within Copa America participations. Mexico lost 7-0 in front of 70,547 TRI fans, who congregated at the Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. The Mexican fans began to leave the stadium early as soon as Mexico had allowed 4 goals in the 52nd minute.


The goals kept on coming. Like a bad dream that you are unable to wake up from. Mexico could barely muster 40% possession in the entire 90 minutes. Mexico had only 1 shot on goal in 90 minutes, also a meager 75% passing completion rate. The Mexican midfield was ran off the field.


Juan Carlos Osorio felt Mexico was still in the game, after all, Mexico was down 0-2 at halftime. He made 2 substitutions, took out Duenas and Chuky Lozano and debuted Gullit Pena and brought on Raul Jimenez. These changes had an immediate impact, by Mexico allowing 3 goals at the beginning of the 2nd half and be down 5-0. Clearly Mexico was done for, so Osorio took out an attacker, Tecatito Corona for a defender, Diego Reyes. That did not help, and Chile went on to score 2 more goals and the humiliation had come full circle for the Mexican National Team.


At this point, what does one do, in the same shoes as Juan Carlos Osorio. Coming from the hottest winning streak in Mexican history, to crashing 7-0 to the 5th ranked team in the world, Chile? You go on a apology tour of course. Most all the players, including Chicharito, who has been avoiding the press and mix zones in previous Copa America Centenario Matches, was the first to come out of the locker room and apologize to the fans via the press. Then one after another, national team member came and said sorry. They gave us their reasons, they said they backed the coach and that they trust him completely. They all sang the same song and dance.


Santiago Banos who is the sporting director for the Mexican National Team also came out, and declared that coming from a record winning streak, to this loss of this magnitude, it can be considered an accident of Futbol. Almost hinting at this will never happen again. He also stated that he backs Juan Carlos Osorio, and that there is no plan B to replace Osorio.


Maybe Mexico needed this painful defeat. This generation has been dubbed, the most talented in our storied history of this National team. Maybe we need to fall, to taste rock bottom. Another door closed for the Mexican National team. Let us ride into the sunset, until a new opportunity arrives for Mexico to rise once again, and other doors open in 2017 and 2018.


Will we see Vancouver Again? Let’s Hope so

vancouver skyline

Despite losing 3-0 to Mexico at BC Place Friday night, Canada still sits in 2nd place in Concacaf Group A, which would be enough for Canada to make the final Hex.  If they manage to hang on, and it is a big if, then the City of Glass will hopefully be in the rotation of venues.

Please, please let it be in the rotation of venues.

I am not going to lie.  The big part of the allure of covering this game was going to Vancouver. Oh, and the game as well – there was that too.

It all seemed to come together:  Vancouver’s proximity to Seattle.  The ridiculously small amount of points to fly from Austin to Seattle.  The fact that it was a nonstop flight.  My TV schedule was clear.  So off I went.

The flight is long, and since I was not on the airline where I enjoy premium status, it was not particularly comfortable – a 4 hour flight will do that to you.  That part of the world is so lush and beautiful, and with good reason.  My 150 mile drive up to Canada provided my with no less than 8 bouts of rainfall.  Makes sense why the call it Raincouver.

BC Place was expecting a big crowd, and it turned out to be the biggest crowd ever to watch a men’s game there (the WWC Final was also played at BC place).  IMG_3048What I did not know, though, is that Vancouver is home to about 12,000 Mexicans. I ran into a few of them on the train ride down to BC Place.  I wasn’t entirely sure if they were rooting for Mexico, so I had to ask.

They were.  While I was enjoying my mushroom ravioli dinner in the Media Tribune, a Canadian journalist was telling me that Vancouver is an event driven city.  The locals have their hockey and their BC Lions, and Whitecaps, but nothing draws more than the one-offs, he told me.

Once the stadium was filled, the split was about 70/30 in favor of Canada.  It was a great crowd, and the Press Box I was in was right next to the Voyageurs supporters section.  They were great the whole night, waving Canadian flags as well as the flags of the Canadian Provinces.  ESPN’s Tom Marshall and Mexican Soccer Show’s Wiso Vazquez were able to identify more than I could.

In the end though, Mexico’s quality was too much for the Canadians to handle.  The last 20 minutes saw Mexico play more keep away then attacking the Canadian goal.  Canada may not have the horses to compete with Mexico, but they have a really good chance to make their first hex in 20 years if they can get past both El Salvador and Honduras.  They get the former at home and the latter on the road.  Just don’t ask any Canadian about the last time they went to Honduras.

But if Mexico gets to go back to Vancouver in 2017 for the Hex, I am sure the Canadian won’t mind talking about that game as much anymore.


FC Dallas Takes Down Impact

Last season FC Dallas came within a game of the MLS Cup relying on youngsters and locally cultivated talent.  Youngsters will have times when they slip up, as they did last week in the Tejano Derby vs. Houston, a 5-0 pasting by the Dynamo.  Determined not to let that happen again, coach Oscar Pareja instructed his players to play within themselves, use they had practiced, and above all, forget what happened last week in the Bayou City.

It took some doing, but FC Dallas finally broke through in the second half with a placement over power free kick by Mauro Diaz in the 80th minute.  His fellow Argentine Maxi Urruti iced the game with a solid effort of his own – a screamer that found the top corner of the net 7 minutes later.  The score would stay at 2-0, sending the faithful home happy after having to deal with some unseasonably chilly weather in North Texas.

The result should not have been much of a surprise, considering FC Dallas had the Lion’s share of possession.  Were it not for a few spurts at the open of each half by Montreal, the dominion of the round ball would have been Dallas’ and Dallas’ alone.

There was a reason for that.  After studying film, Oscar Pareja instructed his players to bracket Impact playmaker, Ignacio Piatti and limit his off the ball movement.  Piatti started strong, but his influence on the game diminished rapidly, and by the middle of the second half, he had all but disappeared.  With it, much of Montreal’s possession.  Impact did find some fresh wind when their Ivorian superstar, Didier Drogba, made his 2016 debut.  In fact it seemed that the former Chelsea icon inspired both teams to pick up the pace.  FC Dallas seemed to be in a hurry to score a goal before Drogba, and Montreal wanted to make that happen.

Despite his legend status, though, the stars of the the show tonight were the FC Dallas midfielders.  The holding midfielders Carlos Gruezo and Victor Ulloa were excellent in repossessing the offense, while Fabian Castillo, Michael Barrios and Mauro Diaz all took turns with daring and darting runs into the danger area.  Their speed and ball control gave Montreal fits, they just could not complete the play with the ball in the back of the net.  Usually that spells trouble – a player like Piatti, and Drogba, of course, can make teams pay for their offensive shortcomings.

But nothing it was unnecessary foul just at the top of the box gave Diaz the chance to showoff his free kick skills.  His shot badly fooled Montreal keeper Evan Bush, and gave the 14,502 fans the moment they had hoped would happen all night.  With Montreal opeining up to try and find the answer to equalize, it was FC Dallas who put an end to things a few minutes later with Urruti getting his 2nd goal of the season.

The Atmosphere at Toyota Park is lively, but a little labored.  There are drums, a small group of ultras, and the same chants we hear everywhere – but the local flavor is what stands out the most.  It was good to hear the crowd sing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and a trumpet player belted out the theme to the “Dallas” TV show in the 2nd half. In case I had forgotten where I was.

Dallas has a good young team and as solid a midfield as one will see in MLS. If they can somehow limit the inconsistencies that are a product of youth, they will have a part to play in determining the Western Conference champions.


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Liga MX Jornada 2 – a Tale of Mice and Fire


As it has in the past years, Liga MX’s second season takes a while to hold root.  Hardly a surprise, given the short turnaround, and the propensity for the majority of teams to make over its rosters.  Teams have little time to get back into form, so listless uninspired matches litter the first couple of weeks.

Nevertheless, some teams manage to get the WD-40 in the right places sooner than others.  Let that be a lesson to those who throw the little straw away after purchasing the can.

Team of the week – Leon

No Gullit – no matter.  The Beast went into one of the more underrated atmospheres in Liga MX – the always full, and always steamy Luis Pirata Fuente stadium in Veracruz.  The green bellies are one of 2 undefeated teams in Liga MX, along with Monterrey.  Luis Montes has started off the season on a hot streak, and is positioning himself nicely for not only a call-up for the February friendly vs Senegal, he would be a fine addition to the Olympic team as one of the 3 overage players.  The one downer for the emeralds was the loss of the oft-injured Chaton Enriquez, who left the game with his ankle the size of a cantaloupe.  Luckily for him, he will only miss a couple of weeks.

Goal of the week – Javier Aquino

We could have just as easily picked Hobbit Bermudez’ scissor kick against Monterrey, but Puebla ended up wasting his glorious strike by losing 3-1.  To that end, Javier Aquino scored the goal of his life in Tigres’ home opener against Morelia, a 2-0 win.

It is no surprise that Tigres had a slow start to the season, given their lack of pre-season after winning the A15. They went nearly 2 games without scoring before Aquino, whose career has been resurrected in Monterrey, gave the champs the shot of adrenaline they needed to get things in gear.

Runner up:  Hobbit Bermudez vs Puebla.

If he was 4 inches taller and had about 10 more pounds of muscle, he might well be Mexico’s best player, given his sensational ball skills and vision.  With a body better suited for a jockey than a midfielder, he keeps plugging along.  This scissor kick opened the scoring in Puebla’s newly refurbished Estadio Cuauhtemoc.

Honorable mention – Orbelin Pineda vs Cruz Azul.

The view from the bottom

Dorados did what they absolutely could not do:  lose at home. They needed 20 points from the A15 to have a realistic chance at avoiding the ignominious “one & done” in the top flight.  They only collected 15 after falling into the most common of all traps –  complete roster make-over.  Instead of relying on the players that earned promotion, the front office spent like a college freshman with daddy’s credit card.  A whole new roster takes time to gel, and Dorados has yet to firm up, and they may not this season.  They need to collect at least 25 points this season to avoid the plunge.  Ain’t gonna happen.  One would think that the Leon Lesson of dancing with who brung ya would be the blueprint.  A Dorados drop will make it two in a row of the “one & done” along with UdG’s cup of coffee last year.

Hello, win column

Club America gave Atlas a triple dose of reality with a 3-0 win at the Jalisco.  Rafa Marquez’ body only lasted a half, and Atlas fell apart in 2nd stanza.  Barra 51’s name will survive another year.

Miguel Herrera got his first win for Xolos.  He will get the most out of them, but no one knows haw far that will take them.

Pumas gave a little nod to yesteryear with a quasi throwback uni, and then held on to beat Toluca 3-2.  Was last season an aberration?  We’ll see.

Perpetual weed lurkers Santos and Pachuca also locked up their first wins of the season.  They both have rosters that should be competitive throughout the season.

Idiotic Fans of the Week

Where to begin.

We’ll start in Veracruz.  Upset that a very iffy red card was handed out to one of his players in Veracruz’ 3-1 loss to Leon Friday night, Red Sharks owner, Fidel Kuri, decided to take out his frustration on the FMF head of refereeing, Edgardo Codesal.

“I told him he has got to go. He does not work for Mexican futbol”  The Head Shark said after the loss.  “They can punish me if they want, but he (Codesal) has to go.” Kuri even went to look for him in the parking lot after the match.

We all know that there is a lot of passion involved.  But it is not as if Kuri is a repeat offender.  Frankly, I always thought Veracruz was a Televisa shell company.  The reaction, and overreaction has been great theater.  He will be sanctioned, and that’s it.  As it should be.

Idiotic fans of the week part II

Puebla opened its doors to their shiny new baby over the weekend.  After the game, the Estadio Cuauhtemoc looked like the Delta Tao Chi house after a toga party.  The reason?  Monterrey fans traveling in support of the Rayados set fire to the stadium, and then tried unsuccessfully to put it out by draining their lizards on the blaze.  Justice was swift.  The FMF did not waste time in punishing the Monterrey side:  they received a fine, will have to pay for all the repairs, and their registered fan support clubs are not allowed to travel to away games for the rest of the season.

Monterrey took it one step further by announcing that if any of the accused were season ticket holders, the tix would be revoked immediately and they would have to wait until next year to apply for them again.  The real losers are the Monterrey fans, where 99% are loyal, passionate, loud, and respectful.  All it takes is a few to ruin it for everybody.

Coach watch

There are a few certainties in this world:  death, taxes, and coaches heads rolling after a month in Liga MX.

It is no mystery who the leading contenders are to walk the plank, just look at the bottom of the table.

Luis Fernando Suarez will not last long at Dorados if he does not string a few wins together and fast.  It might be time to find a fixer in Culiacan.

Victor Vucetich’s Queretaro has yet to win, but given King Midas’ history, he has earned a rather large benefit of the doubt.

Puebla and Veracruz have not had the best starts, and a precipitous slide into the drop zonecould well mean curtains for Pablo Marini and Liga MX living legend, Carlos Reinoso.


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