Power Ranking Clubs Ahead of New Liga MX Season
The Liga MX is days away from kicking off its new season, the 2014 Apertura, and 18 teams will fight for a place in the Liguilla and eventually for the title.
After the 2014 draft the squads have acquired footballers and loaned some others to put together the ideal roster.
From recently promoted Universidad de Guadalajara, to current defending champions Leon, the Liga MX promises a lot of emotions and surprises.
Let's take a look at the place each of these sides have prior to the first matchday.
18. Universidad De Guadalajara
The Universidad de Guadalajara were relegated in 1994 after a 2-1 loss to Atlas. After 20 years they are ready to surprise in their comeback.
With one of the most passionate fanbases in Mexican football, the Leones Negros have been reinforced with 15 players from different Liga MX clubs, five of them from Atlas.
One of the most notable footballers to arrive in the team is Ever Guzman, who secured the 2005 U-17 World Cup, along with Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela.
Fidel Martinez will also wear the Leones Negros jersey in the upcoming season, hoping to continue his stellar performance with Tijuana, where he scored 14 goals in four tournaments, as reported by Spanish website MedioTiempo.com.
The first tournament is always very tough, but the Universidad de Guadalajara need to focus on the relegation table more than anything else.
After one year in the Primera Division, Veracruz are still struggling to leave the relegation zone.
According to Liga MX (h/t ESPN Deportes), they currently sit 15th, just 0.0441 points away from Puebla.
The Tiburones Rojos have signed footballers of the likes of Angel Reyna but have gone through many managerial changes, which obviously have hurt the continuity of the players.
Veracruz could aspire for big things this season as they have spent in signing Carlos Ochoa, Edgar Andrade and Wilson Tiago, seeking to stay as far away as possible from the Ascenso MX.
Guadalajara have a lot to prove this season after finishing 16th and 15th in the 2013 Apertura and the 2014 Clausura, respectively.
Chivas' results have put them 16th in the relegation table, and recently appointed coach Carlos Bustos decided to sign experienced players rather than young blood to try and save the boat.
Guadalajara will welcome back Carlos Salcido and Luis Michel, while they'll receive Angel Reyna and Fernando Arce for the first time.
The squad better turn things around soon, or they could face relegation for the first time in their history.
Last November, Atlas president announced in a press conference (h/t Reuters) that Mexican network TV Azteca bought the club.
From that moment it was obvious that the team, which has been struggling with relegation, would go through a transformation.
For starters, Los Zorros signed veteran midfielder Juan Carlos Medina, USA international Edgar Castillo and Colombia international Aldo Leao Ramirez.
They let go Matias Vuoso, who hasn't been at his best for quite some time, and 11 more footballers.
Atlas finished the 2014 Clausura with a 5-6-6 record; they haven’t finished better than 12th in the past two tournaments.
Puebla returned to the Liga MX in 2007 but have been fighting relegation ever since.
In a huge effort to turn things around, La Franja signed Mexican legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco from Ascenso MX squad Lobos BUAP.
They have also secured another 10 players such as former Leon midfielder Eisner Loboa. Like other clubs, Puebla didn't invest in youngsters; instead, they bet on experience.
If coach Ruben Omar Romano can start this season like he ended the 2014 Clausura (two consecutive wins), there might be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Queretaro returned to the Liga MX for the 2009 Apertura, and despite the fact they have not been top contenders in the tournament, they have made tremendous progress.
The squad has left the bottom of the relegation table with good results and hard work, especially as several teams were relocated and Gallos Blancos took over La Piedad's spot, as per Goal.com.
Queretaro currently sit 11th in the relegation table, mainly because they qualified to the Liguilla of the 2013 Apertura.
For the 2014 Apertura, they will have some new and experienced players, such as Jonathan Bornstein, Ricardo Osorio, Danilinho and Sergio Santana.
UANL couldn't secure a spot in last tournament's Liguilla as they finished the regular season with a 5-6-6 record.
Tigres got rid of Lucas Lobos, one of their most valuable players and brought USA international Herculez Gomez from Tijuana instead.
There are two good reasons for hope. First, they secured the 2014 Copa MX, second, Alan Pulido has been sharp in the past couple of seasons, having scored 14 goals in 36 appearances, as per MedioTiempo.com.
If he makes a strong partnership with Gomez, they can very well become one of the most lethal duos of the Liga MX.
Monterrey have given so-so performances throughout 2013 and 2014, which have put them in the middle of the table.
Their last Liga MX championship came at the 2010 Apertura, and internationally, they claimed the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League.
A change in pace will only come if their current roster starts to play differently, as the Rayados will only have six different footballers this season.
Perhaps the most sensible loss has been Humberto Suazo's, as he only scored two goals during the 2014 Clausura, his lowest record since he arrived in Monterrey, as reported by ESPN FC.
Chiapas will have some great reinforcements for the 2014 Apertura.
The list starts with Edgar Duenas, who leaves Toluca for the first time since his professional debut in 2004, and Argentinean Emiliano Armenteros, who arrives from Osasuna.
The team has left behind its old winning ways, and Sergio Bueno, who coached Jaguares in 2003, knows it.
They have been playing in the Liga MX since 2002, but the last time they qualified to the Liguilla was in the 2012 Clausura.
Jaguares have yet to play further than the quarter-finals.
Little by little, UNAM have proven to be on the right track to return to their level at the Liga MX, although there's still room for improvement.
After finishing last in the 2013 Apertura, the Board of Directors sacked Antonio Torres Servin and brought in Jose Luis Trejo.
Trejo didn't have good results in the remainder of the 2013 Apertura, but he turned things around for the next tournament and managed to qualify Pumas to the Liguilla after a 7-4-6 record.
Now, Trejo has decided to bring back Mexican striker Eduardo Herrera, who left for Santos on a season-long loan, as well as Leon goal machine Matias Britos.
Morelia have bet on a bunch of foreign players for the upcoming tournament.
From Uruguayan midfielder Diego Alaniz, to Argentinian David Depetris—who has played in Eastern Europe for most of his career—Morelia want to claim their first title since the 2000 Invierno.
Monarcas went through a shaky 2014 Clausura, but they have been working hard to return to their top level with the help of coach Angel David Comizzo.
Morelia have proven that they are the kind of team that can't be underestimated, just take a look at the 2014 Supercopa MX, where they defeated Tigres to secure a spot in the 2015 Copa Libertadores.
Tijuana have been a dominating side since they were promoted for the 2011 Apertura.
Xolos have been disciplined and strong through their time in the Liga MX. They qualified to the Liguilla in just their second tournament, and by their third season, they had already conquered the championship.
Perhaps one of the best assets of the team is the ability to adapt to change. Tijuana have had four managers in a four-year span.
They are the side with more footballers from the United States, with a total of six, and they just recently sold Edgar Castillo to Atlas and loaned Herculez Gomez to UANL.
6. Santos Laguna
Santos Laguna will no longer have Oribe Peralta in their roster. The fan favorite left Los Guerreros to join America.
However, coach Pedro Caixinha has decided to bring only Adrian Aldrete in as a reinforcement, which means that Javier Orozco and Carlos Darwin Quintero will fight for El Hermoso's spot.
Santos need to work hard if they want to keep their stellar performance alive.
In their past 10 tournaments, Los Guerreros have won one title (2012 Clausura) and have qualified to seven other Liguillas, including three runner-up finishes, according to MedioTiempo.com.
Pachuca went through a generational change, and it worked like a charm.
With the help of Jurgen Damm, Enner Valencia, Rodolfo Pizarro and Diego de Buen, Los Tuzos qualified to the final showdown of the 2014 Clausura, but they ultimately lost to Leon.
It had been a while since Pachuca had played with such fluidity and creativeness. They will continue through the same path, especially since Enrique Meza will stay in charge of the squad.
As of now, the only sensitive loss could be Valencia, as the BBC reports that the Ecuador international may arrive in West Ham sooner rather than later.
4. Cruz Azul
Cruz Azul have yet to win a league title, but in the meantime they have managed to secure the 2013 Copa MX and the 2014 CONCACAF Champions League.
Luis Fernando Tena will continue in charge of La Maquina for the upcoming season; the roster will suffer minimal changes.
He'll take back Alejandro Vela and Yosgart Gutierrez, and he will leave out only four footballers, including Jeronimo Amione.
Marco Fabian will continue with the team, as his loan deal expires in six months, and Anibal Zurdo arrives from Spanish club Sabadell.
La Maquina have qualified to the past four Liguillas; they played the 2013 Clausura final, where they lost to America.
Antonio Mohamed will try to give America their 12th title during the 2014 Apertura, but the task won't be easy.
Mohamed's continuity only means the board of directors are hoping that he has the same results as Miguel Herrera, who secured his first title at the 2013 Clausura, after two seasons in front of the club.
America will kick off the 2014 Apertura without Juan Carlos Medina and Francisco Rodriguez, as they were transferred to Atlas and Cruz Azul, respectively.
The big news is the arrival of Oribe Peralta, of course. The former Santos Laguna striker has been a one of the most prolific footballers of the Liga MX in recent years.
Although Peralta wasn't as sharp as expected during the 2014 World Cup, he will definitively make a great partnership with Raul Jimenez, if the latter doesn't leave to Wolfsburg, as suggested by German newspaper WAZ (via Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC).
Las Aguilas are always expected to fight for the title, and this season will be no different, especially after Peralta's signing.
Jose Saturnino Cardozo has done a fantastic job with Toluca. He arrived in 2013 to the club where he was the top scorer four times.
After two tournaments in charge of the team, Cardozo has qualified the Diablos Rojos to the semi-finals twice. He also reached the final game of the 2014 CONCACAF Champions.
Toluca will definitely be one of the top contenders in the upcoming season, as he has signed great footballers, such as Lucas Lobos, Marco Bueno and Liborio Sanchez.
Cardozo kept most of his roster intact, which includes youngsters of the likes of Isaac Brizuela and Miguel Angel Ponce.
Gustavo Matosas is the perfect example of continuity. He took over Leon when the team was playing in the Ascenso MX.
After just one season he secured the title and the promotion for Los Panzas Verdes, for the first time in 10 years.
Once at the Liga MX, he reached the semi-finals in his first season (2012 Apertura). However, it would a year later when Matosas would prove his worth.
He secured back-to-back titles, something only UNAM had done in the history of the short tournaments (2004 Clausura and 2004 Apertura).
Leon have kept some players from their Ascenso MX days, such as Carlos Pena, Jose Juan Vazquez, William Yarbrough and Luis Montes.
If there’s a team that can keep their stellar performance through structure, depth, creativity and leadership, that’s Leon.
All transfer news appear courtesy of ESPNDeportes.com, unless otherwise noted.