GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Only one US-born player was involved in the playoffs in last year's Mexican Apertura. But as the 2012 Clausura starts to take shape after four rounds of games, early signs suggests a few more could be involved this time around.
Sitting top of the league are Santos Laguna, for whom striker Herculez Gomez has been used off the bench so far this season. The northern team plays Pumas UNAM at home on Saturday (8 pm ET, TeleFutura).
Close behind are Sonny Guadarrama's fourth-place Atlante, who lock horns with Querétaro on Saturday (7 pm ET, TeleFutura).
Tied on points with Atlante are Tigres UANL, who play in the Estadio Azteca against Club América on Sunday (5 pm ET, Univision) off their disappointing elimination from the Copa Libertadores on Thursday night. Jonathan Bornstein will be hoping his dynamite performance in central midfield, despite the loss, will get him back into Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti's lineup.
Club Tijuana sit in sixth place in the table and travel to DaMarcus Beasley's Puebla on Sunday (1 pm ET, Azteca America, Fox Deportes). US U-23 Olympic hopeful Joe Corona is likely to start his first game this season for the Xolos after regular Leandro Augusto was ruled out with an injury.
Left wingback Edgar Castillo has started all four of Tijuana's games this season, while Greg Garza is looking for his second appearance of the season.
José Francisco Torres' Pachuca, meanwhile, are in eighth in the league and remain unbeaten, with three ties and a win so far in 2012. On Sunday, they face a tough trip to Toluca (1 pm ET, Univisión).
Just behind the Tuzos in seventh is Southern Californian Michael Orozco Fiscal's San Luis, who are level on points with Pachuca. After losing the last two, Orozco Fiscal and the Gladiadores travel to Monterrey on Saturday (6 pm ET, Galavisión).
Miguel Ángel Ponce's struggling Guadalajara, propping up the table in last place, host Morelia on Saturday (8 pm ET, Telemundo).
In Guatemala, Jeff Cunningham's Comunicaciones are in second place in the Primera División. Los Cremas host Xelajú on Sunday (6 pm ET) with Cunningham looking for his first home start after scoring in his debut last week.
In Venezuela, Diego Restrepo's Deportivo Táchira play Aragua (Sunday, 5:30 pm ET).
Back north in Mexico's second tier, Jesus Padilla and La Piedad travel to Cruz Azul Hidalgo on Sunday (1 pm ET), and Isaac Acuña's Mérida host Universidad de Guadalajara (Saturday, 8 pm ET).
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.