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Mexican clubs go on shopping sprees
by Paul Kennedy, December 30th, 2008 7AM
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The InterLiga, which kicks off on Friday, features eight of Mexico's top clubs in search of two spots in the 2009 Libertadores Cup. Club America America and Guadalajara, which meet Saturday in an InterLiga clasico in Houston, used the break between the Torneo Apertura and the Torneo Clausura to load up on reinforcements. Among the players on the move in major deals were U.S. products Carlos Ochoa (Guadalajara) and Edgar Castillo (Club America), both now Mexican internationals. MLS players Francisco Mendoza (Guadalajara) and Diego Jimenez (UAG) are also expected to take part in the InterLiga. For all the key moves ...

Castillo, signed from Santos, was just one of eight players picked up by America in a spending spree valued at about $17 million. Veteran Pavel Pardo returns from German club VfB, while other acquisitions were Brazilian Robert de Pinho, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Colombian Andres Chitiva, Argentine Fernando Ortiz, Angel Reyna and Chilean Jean Beausejour.

Ochoa, who starred as a prep and college player in California, arrived from Monterrey and should team with Sergio Ponce, acquired from Apertura champion Toluca, to give Chivas some much-needed offensive punch. Mendoza, on loan from Chivas USA, should get playing time.

The 2008 Apertura champion, which kicks off play Friday against Morelia at Pizza Hut Park, added defender Jose Olvera on loan from Guadalajara and Mexican international striker Sergio Santana, acquired from Chivas in a deal that sent Ponce to Guadalajara,

Veteran Mexican striker Miguel Sabah, who has scored 60 league goals since 2000, was expected to sign with Pachuca, but Cruz Azul reached an agreement to move him to Monarcas.

In place of Sabah, Pachuca picked up Panamanian Blas Perez on loan from Tigres. Also joining Pachuca is Paraguayan striker Edgar Benitez, who signed a four-year contract following his transfer from Sol de America.

Tecos' lone pickup for the InterLiga is Jimenez, who returns after a loan spell with the Red Bulls, where he was the lone midseason acquisition to start in their playoff run to the MLS Cup final.

Argentine Bruno Marioni, often linked with a move to MLS, has returned to Atlas after a stint with Pachuca. Argentine-born Lucas Ayala should make his debut for Atlas, his ninth Mexican team in the last decade, on Saturday in Houston against his most recent team, Tigres. Atlas was hoping to finalize a deal for Chilean central defender Ismael Fuentes, who plays for Jaguares.

Paraguayan striker Ariel Bogado and defender Mauricio Romero will get a chance against their old club when Tigres faces Atlas on Saturday. Right back Jose Antonio Castro arrives on a one-year loan from Club America, where he spent the last 12 seasons.

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