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Mexico Preview: Offseason moves and American connections
by Paul Kennedy, August 3rd, 2007 6:45AM

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Mexico kicks off the Torneo Apertura -- the opening of its two-stage season -- this weekend.

Both its 2006-07 champions -- Guadalajara and Pachuca -- are coming off play in the SuperLiga against MLS clubs, where they showed off their American talent -- Jesus Padilla for Chivas and Jose Francisco Torres for Pachuca.

MLS veteran Daniel Hernandez is back for a second stint in Mexico, this time with Puebla. A third American -- Noel Castillo -- debuted in the Santos first team in preseason.

Here's a look at each club's offseason moves and its American connections.

Group 1:
JAGUARES
The Chiapas club pulled a coup in signing forward Adolfo Bautista from Chivas, which he helped win the 2006 Apertura.

PACHUCA
The 2007 Torneo Apertura champion and SuperLiga semifinalist solidified its attack with the signing of Colombian Luis Gabriel Rey and Rafael Marquez Lugo. It sent Omar Arellano and Luis Angel Landin to Chivas and Morelia, respectively.
AMERICAN CONNECTION: Jose Francisco Torres

PUEBLA
Puebla will need to get out of the box quickly to avoid being relegated after only one year back at the top. Among its offseason signings is Peruvian Walter Vilchez, on loan from Cruz Azul. Eight other players were picked up in the First Division's annual Draft.

AMERICAN CONNECTION: Daniel Hernandez

UNAM
Esteban Solari was signed from Cypriot club Apoel and Rubens Sambueza arrived from River Plate, giving Pumas an all-Argentine attack with Nacho Scocco.

UAG
Tecos have been in mourning following the death 10 days ago of Mirsha Serrano in a car crash. They had been active in the summer draft, signing Hector Altamirano (San Luis), Juan Ignacio Gonzalez (Atlas), Joel Sanchez (Veracruz) and Bernardo Sainz (Morelia).

TOLUCA
The Red Devils' big signing is 32-year-old Argentine Christian Eduardo Gimenez, who had a brilliant career with Lugano and Basel in Switzerland before moving to France (Marseille) and Germany (Hertha Berlin). Another major signing for Coach Jose Pekerman is Uruguay defender Vicente Sanchez, signed from Montevideo club Nacional.

Group 2
CLUB AMERICA
After a disappointing preseason spent playing in the United States in the Copa Panamericana and SuperLiga, the pressure will be on new signings: Argentines Federico Insea (Borussia Moenchengladbach) and Lucas Castroman (Velez Sarsfield) and Paraguayan Rodrigo Lopez (Libertad).

ATLANTE
Cancun's first top-level team has signed Cameroonian Alain Nkong (ex-Colorado Rapids). It also picked up Venezuelan international Giancarlo Maldonado from Chile's O'Higgins.

ATLAS
Atlas sold young Mexican star Andres Guardado to Spain's Deportivo Coruna for $7 million, a record deal for a Mexican player leaving Mexico. A trio of Argentines -- veteran Bruno Marioni (Boca Juniors), Lucas Barrios (Chile's Cobreloa) and Diego Colotto (UAG) -- have arrived this summer.

MONTERREY
Monterrey headed to South America to pick up Uruguayans Ignacio Ithurralde from Defensor Sporting and Egidio Arevalo Rios from Penarol and Humberto Suazo from Colo Colo.

SANTOS
Santos almost was relegated last season and has been rather quiet on the summer transfer market. Miguel Barrera returned to Mexico after a (very) short stint at Chivas USA.
AMERICAN CONNECTION: Edgar Castillo, Sonny Guadarrama, Noel Castillo

VERACRUZ
Mexican international Rafael Garcia was one of nine players picked up by the Red Sharks in the Draft. Other notable acquisitions: Brazilian Irenio Soares from Club America and Colombian John Javier Restrepo from Tigres.

Group 3:
CRUZ AZUL
Uruguayan coach Sergio Marakarian loaded up on Paraguayans: Denis Caniza from Atlas and Cristian Riveros and Carlos Bonet from Libertad.

GUADALAJARA
Chivas had a busy summer traveling to South Korea for the Peace Cup and the United States for the SuperLiga and various friendlies, but it was quiet on the transfer front, signing only Omar Arellano and sending Adolfo Bautista to Jaguares and Diego Martinez (on loan) to Morelia.
AMERICAN CONNECTION: Jesus Padilla.

MORELIA
Monarcas picked up Uruguayan Gonzalo Coy and Argentine Mauricio Romero from Argentine clubs Argentinos Juniors and Lanus, respectively, and Brazilians Wanderson and Marcinho from Club Regatas of the Brazilian Second Division.

NECAXA
Former Chivas USA coach Hans Westerhof is now in charge of Necaxa. First-year players in Aguascalientes include Colombians Hugo Rodallega (Vasco da Gama) and Martin Garcia (Monterrey).

SAN LUIS
San Luis has taken on a new name -- los Gladiadores -- as well a new frontline with Argentines Ariel Gonzalez (UNAM) and Alfredo Moreno (Necaxa) and Colombian Tressor Moreno (Veracruz).
AMERICAN CONNECTION: Michael Orozco

TIGRES
UANL is coming off a strong preseason. Key offseason acquisition include Uruguayan veteran Sebastian Abreu (playing with his seventh Mexican team since 1999!), Argentine Guillermo Marino from Boca Juniors and Flavio Rogeiro, who is on loan from crosstown rival Monterrey.



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