CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Monday, July 23, 2012
The premier of Liga MX was full of fireworks, as Herculez Gomez and Edgar Castillo steered their teams to victory in their opening games.
Santos Laguna 2 - 1 San Luis
Herculez Gomez started and went the distance for Santos Laguna as they began their title defense against Michael Orozco and San Luis with a victory.
Orozco played the full 90 minutes at center back but was unable to stop the Santos juggernaut in Torreon.
San Luis took an almost instant lead as they forced a turnover off of the kickoff, and Emilio Lopez fired a blistering shot from 30 yards out that beat Oswaldo Sanchez cleanly to the near post.
Santos struck back only two minutes later, as a corner kick from the right side of the field curved into the box and found Gomez who headed it on goal. The header was saved by Oscar Perez, but it dropped right to the feet of Carlos Quintero who knocked in the rebound.
Despite the offensive power of Santos Laguna and the porous defense of San Luis, the teams battled through the next hour in a deadlock, though Gomez was active throughout. He nearly assisted on a Cristian Saurez goal in the ninth minute, but Saurez's rocket went barely high and wide of the right upper 90.
Gomez came close in the 44th minute, earning a free kick from an Orozco foul. Gomez shot from 30 yards out, curling around the wall but missed wide by mere inches.
Gomez unlocked the San Luis defense in the 72nd minute though, as he beat the offside trap led by Orozco. Juan Rodriguez played a long ball up the center of the field and found Gomez on a perfectly timed run, putting him in clean on Perez.
Gomez took one touch to set himself up, and then struck the ball low and to the near post for the eventual game winner.
Santos Laguna continue their title run next week on July 29 at Chivas.
San Luis has not won in seven games, going back to last season. They will next face second division side Pumas Morelos in Copa Mexico action on Wednesday.
Tijuana 2 - 0 Puebla
Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona and DaMarcus Beasley all started for their opening game as Tijuana hosted Puebla, while Greg Garza came on as a second half substitution.
Castillo and Corona featured strongly in the first half for Tijuana, with Corona nearly opening the scoring in the third minute as Duvier Riascos swung in a cross from the right flank. Corona leaped onto the ball in the center of the box and hit a volley that sailed barely over the cross bar.
Castillo put his mark on the game in the 10th minute as he dribbled the ball up the left flank to the offensive third, before placing a splendid through ball to Alfredo Moreno that set him up for a clean break on goal from the top of the 18.
Moreno was hauled down by Jorge Gastelum, who received a yellow card for his effort. Fernando Arce stepped up to take the free kick, and curved the ball over the wall and inside the near post, sending Estadio Caliente into a frenzy.
Beasley's evening would end in the 22nd minute as he went to the touchline on defense and tackled the ball away from Riascos. The Colombian jumped to avoid Beasley's tackle, but he inadvertently caught Beasley's ankle on the way down as his leg drew back.
Though the contact was accidental, Beasley was in obvious pain. It appeared at first that Beasley would be able to walk it off, but he was instead subbed out, limping off the field under his own power.
Corona was subbed out in the 56th minute, followed by Castillo in the 62nd. Garza entered the game for Castillo to provide a more traditional defensive presence as Tijuana prepared to hold their lead for the final third of the game.
The Xolos put the game away in the 70th minute, as a corner kick swung in from the right side, finding the head of Leandro Augusto who put the barest of flicks onto the ball, directing it to Pablo Aguilar who completed the play, heading it home for the goal.
Tijuana held off Puebla for the remaining 20 minutes, and will next play second division side Meridas in Copa Mexico action on Tuesday.
Puebla will next visit second division side Irapuato on Wednesday, July 25, also in Copa Mexico action.
Pachuca 0 - 0 Atlante
Jose Torres started and played 78 minutes for Pachuca as they visited Atlante for their season opener.
It was an evenly matched game but most of the play took place away from goal, with only five combined shots on goal from both teams throughout the game.
Torres was instrumental in one of the closest plays of the game coming in the seventh minute. Torres controlled the ball in the midfield and played a 30 yard pass to Raul Tamudo to the top right corner of the box. Tamudo took a touch into the box, gained space from his defender and blasted a shot that missed wide of the near post upper 90 by a foot.
Atlante's best opportunity came in the 14th minute as Esteban Paredes played a give and go combination with Jose Fonseca at the top of the box.
Paredes' pass to Fonseca drew the attention of the defense, allowing Fonseca to pass the ball back to the wide open Paredes who struck a hard shot from 16 yards out. The shot was saved by Rodolfo Cota, who then smothered the resulting rebound before Arturo Munoz could get to it.
Pachuca will visit second division side CD Tapatio in Copa Mexico action for their next game on Wednesday, July 25.
Jonathan Bornstein made his first league appearance in two years, coming on in the 86th minute for Tigres during their 4-0 win over Jaguares.
Ventura Alvarado, a 19-year old defender from Phoenix, Arizona made the bench for Club America in their 0-0 tie with Morelia.
Marco Vidal dressed but did not play for Lobos BUAP in their 3-1 loss to Necaxa in second division action.