Thursday, July 23, 2009
Paco Torres and Pachuca begin the Mexican Apertura against Estudiantes while newly-declared Yank Edgar Castillo and Tigres host Puebla.

Estudiantes – Pachuca

Pachuca kicks off the 2009 Mexican Apertura campaign on Friday night when they visit Estudiantes at Estadio Tres De Marzo in Zapopan, Jalisco, Guadalajara.

New Pachuca head coach Guillermo Rivarola will most likely have midfielder Jose Francisco ‘Paco' Torres start the match from the bench for the Tuzos.

After his participation with the United States national team at this summer's Confederations Cup, the Texas native was granted an extended week of vacation to rest and have corrective eye surgery.

Torres' absence forced him to miss the club's preseason so it should be expected that Rivarola will opt to wait until the second half before giving ‘El Gringo' any minutes.

The new man in charge for the Tuzos took the reins of the 2009 Clausura finalists after then-coach Enrique Meza departed for Cruz Azul. Rivarola prefers an attacking style which will suite the Higaldo club that was the highest scoring team during the '09 Clausura.

The Argentinean coach directs a squad that will reside in Group Two in the Clausura standings along with Jaguares, Monterrey, Puebla, Morelia and America.

Estadio Tres De Marzo has proved to be a friendly place to play for Pachuca in recent years as the visitors have not lost in the stadium since the 2005 Clausura. In their meeting earlier this year, the Tuzos came away with a hard fought 3-2 victory.

Estudiantes, who just changed their name from Tecos U.A.G., is led by head coach Miguel Herrera and is situated in Group Three.

Herrera will have to make a gameday decision regarding Paraguayan forward Fredy Bareiro who is suffering from an ankle injury sustained during the preseason.

Rivarola will be able to count on a full squad.

Indios – Monterrey

Indios begins their 2009 Apertura at home with a clash versus northern rivals Monterrey on Saturday at Estadio Olimpico Benito Juárez in the border town of Ciudad Juarez.

Head coach Héctor Eugui has midfielder Marco Vidal starting from the bench but may bring on the Texas native as a second half substitute.

The hosts are coming off a cinderella spring season which saw them lose in heartbreaking fashion to Paco Torres and Pachuca in Clausura semifinals.

The biggest change for the Juarez club is the change in goalkeeper as former starter Cirilo Saucedo departed for Tigres leaving Eugui to call on Toluca reserve goalkeeper César Lozano to man the pipes for the Aborigenes.

Indios are coming off a successful preseason which included a 1-0 defeat of Monterrey two weeks ago.

Eugui's squad did not suffer any injuries during the preseason so the Uruguayan coach will have a full squad available.

Monterrey's Clausura run ended in the quarterfinals so the Rayados will be hopeful for a more prosperous Apertura season and would like to begin the campaign with three points on the road.

Head coach Víctor Vucetich will be without the services of midfielders Jesús Arellano and Luis Pérez who are both suffering from leg injuries.

Tigres – Puebla

Controversial defender Edgar Castillo and Tigres start their 2009 Apertura at home on Saturday when they take on Puebla at Estadio Universitario in San Nicolas, Nuevo Leon.

New Tigres head coach Daniel Guzman plans to start Castillo at left back which is the customary position for the former Club America and Santos man.

It has been a tumultous summer for the Las Cruces, New Mexico native who recently declared his intentions to play internationally for the United States.

This decision has branded him as public enemy number one in the eyes of some Mexican fans so it is expected that the play of Castillo will be heavily scrutinized all season long.

Apart from the drama, it will be imperative for Tigres to get off to a quick start in the Apertura after finishing a disappointing 16th in the Clausura.

Guzman has re-armed the club with five new arrivals including Castillo in hopes of producing a berth in the Apertura playoffs.

Meanwhile Puebla are coming off a Clausura which saw them finish fifth and make a run to the playoff semifinals before falling to eventual winners Pumas.

Head coach José Luis Sánchez is also dealing with major roster turnover that saw the departure of four players replaced by Gilberto Mora, Nicolás Olivera, Joaquín Velázquez and Carlos Ruiz.

Both coaches will be missing players as Argentinean forward Gastón Fernández is suspended for Tigres while forward Jared Borgetti is out for Puebla and midfielder Sergio perez will be a gameday decision for Sanchez.

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