CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Tuesday, January 10, 2012
There were Americans aplenty featuring in the opening weekend of the 2012 Clausura. In all, seven saw action in an array of unsatisfying results.
Santos Laguna 0-0 Pachuca
Jose Torres went 90 minutes for Pachuca and Herculez Gomez came on as a late sub for Santos Laguna as the two title contenders battled it out in the season opener. It was a fairly eventful game, though there were few close opportunities.
Pachuca had the best opportunities of the game as they twice walked in on goal and missed only through poor shooting. The first occasion saw Daniel Arguello capitalize on an oddly bouncing ball to get past the Santos Laguna defense about forty yards from goal, leaving him by himself against goalkeeper Miguel Becerra. After beating Becerra on the dribble, Arguello fired at the wide open goal from thirty yards out and saw his shot bounce wide of the left post.
The second close opportunity came when Jaime Corozo made a couple of sharp cuts into the left side of the box and squared up on the Santos Laguna goal before firing wide from 12 yards out.
Cesar Jiminez saw his second yellow for Santos Laguna after chopping down Jose Torres at the top of the box in the 88th minute. Torres had controlled the ball and spun away from the defense, and was subsequently tackled from behind by Jiminez.
Pachuca will next host Puebla on January 14, while Santos Laguna travels to Atlante.
Puebla 0-0 Atlas
DaMarcus Beasley started and went 56 minutes as Puebla took on underachieving Atlas.
The best opportunity of the game came in the 38th minute as Puebla's Jahir Flores fired a 30 yard free kick that grazed over the top of the cross bar.
Beasley suffered numerous fouls through the game before exiting early in the second half. Lucas Ayala would receive a red card for Atlas just before the half time whistle with a rough tackle on Luis Garcia.
Puebla travels to Pachuca for their next game on January 14.
San Luis 1-0 Pumas
Michael Orozco started and went 90 minutes for San Luis, helping San Luis continue where they left off in 2011 as a strong defensive team.
Orozco's teammate on the left of the defense, Anibal Metallan, drew a second yellow in the 34th minute on a controversial decision from referee Jorge Castillo, when Metallan tripped up Martin Bravo on the side of the box. While it was clearly a foul, there was no malice in it and was soft contact that San Luis players thought was undeserving of a card.
San Luis would see justice done seven minutes later with Jehu Chiapas struck a gorgeous half volley from 25 yards out past goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios. The ball bounced into the middle of the field and Chiapas ran onto it unopposed, then rocketed it home to the lower right corner of the goal. The score would stand, and San Luis continue being a stingy defensive team.
San Luis will next travel to Estudiantes on January 13.
Tijuana 1-1 Morelia
Edgar Castillo went the distance for Tijuana, while Joe Corona played the second half and Greg Garza saw his first minutes in Mexico, coming on in the 74th minute.
Tijuana enters the 2012 Clausura hungry for points after a disappointing 2011 Apertura. Not only hungry for points, they're also hungry for Californian attention, and made moves that could be considered as geared towards publicity as well as improving their roster, as they signed two Americans over the off season, in Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza. These newcomers join U.S. U-23 prospect Joe Corona to put the most Americans ever on a single Primera Division team.
Morelia came out of the gates in control of the game, racking up numerous shots wide and high of the net, until Rafa Marquez Lugo jumped on a square pass into the middle of the box, sliding it home past Cirilo Saucedo from 10 yards out.
The ball was supplied by Miguel Sabah, who collected a through ball that saw three Tijuana forwards barely staying onside from 40 yards out. Sabah dribbled the ball into the right side of the box with the Tijuana defense in disarray trying to recover. The ball to Lugo was well weighted, and beat the sliding effort of defender Javier Gandolfi, who could not magic the ball away.
Tijuana would pull one back just before the break as Duvier Riascos was dragged down in the box for a penalty kick. Jose Sand converted with little difficulty to end the half with a tie.
The penalty kick came with a price however, as Tijuana coach Antonio Mohamed was shown a red card for protesting the referee's decision not to card Adrian Aldrete for the foul on Riascos.
In the 72nd minute, Joe Corona got the opportunity to be the hero when he pounced on a rebounded Richard Toledo shot, with no one around him but the goalkeeper. From six yards out, he struck the ball too soft and had his potential winner easily saved by Federico Vilar.
In the 76th minute, Greg Garza would make his professional debut, though he would not factor in the game.
Tijuana will host Monterrey on January 14.
Jonathan Bornstein was on the bench for Tigres as they tied 1-1 with Cruz Azul
Marco Vidal was an unused substitute in Club Leon's 2-0 victory over Correcaminos UAC