Mexico's Liga MX kicks off the
Torneo Apertura on Friday with the same 18 teams it had in 2017-18 and the return of a youth mandate to encourage teams to use young players.
Pro/rel chaos. Cafetaleros de Tapachula won the second-tier Ascenso MX but was not allowed to go up because it did not meet Liga MX's licensing standards. Instead of allowing another team to move up, Lobos BUAP, last in Liga MX's relegation standings, kept its spot by paying a fee of over $6 million. The future of pro/rel is in doubt as only nine of 15 second division clubs are currently eligible to go up.
Liga MX, Day 1:
Friday: Veracruz-UNAM 7:30 pm (UDN)
-- Atlas-Queretaro 9:55 pm (UDN)
Saturday: Cruz Azul-Puebla 5:30 pm (ESPN Deportes, UDN)
-- Pachuca-Monterrey 8 pm (ESPN Deportes, Univision)
-- Tigres-Leon 9:55 pm (Univision)
-- Tijuana-Chivas 10 pm (Fox Deportes)
Sunday: Toluca-Morelia noon (Univision)
-- Santos Laguna-Lobos BUAP 6 pm (UDN)
-- Necaxa-Club America 8:55 pm (UDN)
Minimum youth minutes. Reminiscent of Liga MX's old Regla 20/11, which mandated that clubs give at least 1,000 minutes of action to players under the age of 20 years and 11 months during a season, the league has reintroduced minimum minutes for young players, beginning with 765 minutes of playing time for players born in 1997 or later in the Apertura on each club.
The new rule should bring attention to a whole new crop of young Mexican stars, including Californian Jonathan Gonzalez, who was recently named the Liga MX Rookie of the Year for 2017-18. Other players of note who meet the youth threshold are Edson Alvarez, who started for Mexico at the World Cup, and his Club America teammate, Diego Lainez, considered the most talented teenager in Mexico.
Americans on the move. After two and half years at Pachuca, where he won the Clausura 2016 and 2017 Concacaf Champions League, Omar Gonzalez moved to Atlas in the Draft. Also switching clubs are two veterans, Jose Francisco Torres (Tigres to Puebla) and Michael Orozco (Tijuana to Lobos BUAP). Tijuana loaned 19-year-old defender Angel Uribe to its second division affiliate Dorados in Sinaloa.
Other Americans in Liga MX ...
Club America. Joe Corona.
Leon. William Yarbrough.
Necaxa. Ventura Alvarado.
Santos. Jorge Villafana.
Tijuana. Alejandro Guido, Rubio Rubin.
Tigres. Lalo Fernandez.
Jonathan Bornstein has moved to Israel (Maccabi Netanya) after more than seven seasons in Mexico (Tigres, Atlante and Queretaro), and Kekuta Manneh moved to Switzerland (St. Gallen) after half a season at Pachuca.