American Exports preview: Gomez pushing for playoffs
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The top eight teams in the Mexican league all face each other this weekend, meaning there will be a lot of quality action, with two or three big games involving Americans.
On Friday evening, the Estadio Hidalgo is the place for Gringo-watchers to feast their eyes, with José Torres’ seventh-place Pachuca taking on sixth-place Club Tijuana (10 pm ET, Galavision). The Xolos have Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza and Joe Corona all available. Corona returns after the disappointment of missing out on an Olympic place with the US U-23s, although he received plenty of plaudits for his performances. Tijuana go into the game off the back of securing their survival in the Primera División, while Pachuca have only one win in their last five games and are desperate to end the season well.
The other top-of-the-league clash involves Herculez Gomez’s Santos Laguna, who play eighth-place Toluca in the Estadio Nemesio Díez on Sunday (1 pm ET, Univision). Gomez has become a regular in recent weeks, but with the semifinal second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League against Toronto FC coming up on April 4, changes are possible for Benjamín Galindo’s side.
Jonathan Bornstein is stilling looking for his first minutes of the season, with his third-place Tigres UANL side hosting second-place Morelia on Saturday (9 pm ET, TeleFutura).
DaMarcus Beasley’s Puebla are six games without a victory and nine points off the playoffs with only five games remaining. Beasley scored the equalizer last weekend against Cruz Azul and should be fit to face fellow strugglers Querétaro after a scare regarding a possible chipped bone in his ankle during the week (Saturday, 7 pm, TeleFutura).
Also Saturday, defender Michael Orozco Fiscal and his San Luis side travel to Cruz Azul (7 pm, ESPN Deportes).
In Mexico’s second division, Jesús Padilla’s La Piedad play away against Lobos BUAP (Friday, 6 pm ET), with Marco Vidal’s León facing Estudiantes de Altamira (Saturday, 10 pm ET) and Isaac Acuña’s Club Mérida hosting Dorados de Sinaloa (9 pm ET).
Further south, Jeff Cunningham’s Comunicaciones play Xelajú looking to stay top of Guatemala’s first division (Saturday, 10 pm ET).
And yet even further south, it’s a big weekend for Atlanta-area native Jimmy Maurer, who is set for his first start in the Chilean league. The goalkeeper’s Universidad de Concepción face Deportivo Iquique (Saturday, 3 pm ET).
In Bolivia, Alejandro Meleán’s Oriente Petrolero host the modestly named The Strongest (Sunday, 7:30 pm ET).
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. E-mail him at email@example.com.