American Exports: Yanks get ready for Mexican playoffs
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The Clausura 2012 playoffs in Mexico are packed with American talent, with the possibility that up to seven players will contest the quarterfinal first legs of the “Fiesta Grande” over the next two days.
José Torres' Pachuca kick off the postseason against Club América in the Estadio Hidalgo on Wednesday (9:30 pm ET, TeleFutura), with los Tuzos the underdogs against the Mexico City giants, who finished third in the regular season.
Not that it bothers Torres.
“A lot of people see those finishing higher as favorites,” Torres told Goal.com. “We just keep quiet and with humility we will try to take the series.”
Torres will be competing in his fifth postseason in Mexico and only needs to complete one half of soccer to beat his previous record of league minutes in a season, having started 16 of Pachuca's 17 games in the Clausura 2012.
Just a stone's throw from the US-Mexico border, Club Tijuana will play their first ever Primera División playoff game against Monterrey on Wednesday (11:30 pm ET, Azteca America), with three Americans possible starters.
The playoffs are nothing new to Edgar Castillo, who won the title with Santos in 2008, but teammates Joe Corona and Greg Garza are experiencing the tournament for the first time in their fledgling careers at the top level.
Monterrey are clear favorite for the series, although Xolos' artificial pitch and watertight defense – the best in the regular season – give the border team some reasons to be confident.
On Thursday, Herculez Gomez and his Santos Laguna team travel to Chiapas to take on a Jaguares side that is unbeaten in eight games, and has Southern Californian Adrian Ruelas available in their first-team squad (8 pm ET, Azteca America).
Gomez, who has five goals in nine league appearances this season, is expected to start the game on the bench, at least according to various press reports from Torreón.
Finally, Jonathan Bornstein's Tigres UANL face Morelia on Thursday looking for back-to-back titles in Mexico (10 pm ET, Univision Deportes). Bornstein is yet to feature in the league this season and hasn't made the bench for the reigning champions since early March.
In the Liga de Ascenso playoff final, Marco Vidal's Club León take on Lobos BUAP on Wednesday (5 pm ET), although Vidal has not been seeing playing time this Clausura 2012 championship.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.