FOX Soccer Exclusive
De la Torre believes in Liga MX
Mexico coach José Manuel de la Torre reaffirms his belief in Liga MX every time he selects a squad.
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More than a dash of this conviction comes from his dearth of alternatives. De la Torre draws on a smaller contingent of foreign-based players than other coaches in the CONCACAF region. He can count on a handful of top players from the best leagues in Europe (and Javier Aquino at Villarreal), but the majority of his preferred players ply their trades domestically.
If de la Torre maintained a rather shallow pool and named the same Mexican-based players at every opportunity, then his faith in the strong competition would function more like reliance. His penchant for naming players in good league form regardless of circumstances shows his deeper investment in the local championship.
Omar Bravo's return after a four-year absence for the pair of matches against Honduras and the United States underscores the meritocracy created within the ranks. Bravo drifted into the wilderness after an ill-fated spell at Deportivo La Coruna and slipped out of the national team picture entirely for the past few years. His influential displays with Atlas this campaign have earned him recognition as one of the top performers in the Clausura. And so de la Torre has turned to the 33-year-old striker to provide some depth up front.
This sort of recall isn't some peculiar one-off, either. De la Torre has consistently turned to in-form players to bolster his squad. Other veterans like Fernando Arce, Luis Pérez and Sinha have all surprisingly found their names listed in squads in the wake of good spells for their club sides. Even seasoned performers Jonny Magallón and Gerardo Torrado captured spots on the latest roster despite failing to hit those lofty heights in recent weeks.
Younger players – particularly Olympic heroes – also receive opportunities to impress based on their exploits. Raúl Jiménez represents the latest instance in the trend after several fine showings for Club América in the Clausura, but Héctor Herrera and Diego Reyes also fall into the similar category. Club León standout Carlos Peña presents a slightly different case, though his arrival after Peralta's injury still counts as a significant vote of confidence ahead of a potential CONCACAF Gold Cup place this summer.
De la Torre's willingness to reward players for their exploits will not absolve him from blame if they fall short (as the entire side did against Jamaica last month) or protect him from the inevitable scrutiny that comes with his position. It does, however, reinforce the contention that he has placed genuine faith in Liga MX – and not just a few preferred players – to supply the foundation required to allow his stars to flourish.
Around Liga MX – Jornada 11
Tigres increased its lead at the top of the table to two points with some help from Santos Laguna. Ricardo Ferretti's side opened the door for Atlas to climb to the summit after a 1-1 home draw with C.D. Guadalajara, but Santos stopped Chivas' local rivals from taking over top spot when late goals by Rodolfo Salinas and Carlos Darwin Quintero secured a 2-1 victory at Estadio Jalisco.
Santos climbed into a tie for third-place with América after bottom side San Luis claimed a controversial late point at Estadio Azteca. Juan Medina placed América on track for the expected result, but Juan Cuevas snatched an equalizer from the spot in second-half stoppage time after Diego Reyes saw red for handling. Raúl Jiménez saw a valid penalty shout turned away moments later to leave the home side frustrated with the outcome.
San Luis' unexpected point in Mexico City could prove crucial as Quéretaro continues to draw them into the relegation mire. Gallos Blancos reduced the deficit to four points with a 1-0 home victory over Toluca. Diego Novaretti's first-half own goal proved enough to hand the relegation battlers a third win in as many weeks.
Fellow stragglers Atlante – another side on the periphery of the relegation tussle – suffered a 3-0 home defeat to Cruz Azul. Mariano Pavone struck twice in the second half to strengthen La Maquina's bid for a place in the Liguilla.
Pachuca helped its quest for a playoff berth with two second-half stoppage time goals to defeat Puebla 2-1, while Club Tijuana mustered its own late magic through Duvier Riascos to share the points in a 2-2 home draw with Monterrey. Similar stalemates occurred between Pumas and Club León (0-0 in Mexico City) and Morelia and Jaguares (1-1 in Tuxtla Gutiérrez) to conclude the weekend.
All 18 sides will take next weekend to rest and recover as their stars feature in international matches before resuming play on March 29.