2010 SUPERLIGA: WHAT TO WATCH FOR

2010 SUPERLIGA – WHAT TO WATCH FOR

FAMILIAR FOES – PACHUCA v HOUSTON

Possibly the best rivalry between an MLS club and a Mexican Club, these two have put on some of the best club matches seen on this continent in the CONCACAF Cahmpiosn League/Cup. The two sides played a memorable  SuperLiga semifinal goal fest in 2007 with the 10 man Dynamo getting a late equalizer to send the match to extra time only to see Pachuca take the match on penalties. The 2010 edition of this rivalry will be the Group A opener for both clubs. If you see only one SuperLiga match this year, make it this Thursday at Robertson Stadium.

SISTER SIDES? MORELIA v CHICAGO

The Chicago Fire and Mexican club Morelia have a sister club relationship.  They have had since 2003 and the Fire even sported Morelia colors for a few matches in the clubs 2004 MLS Season. What this relationship means, I have no idea, as the two clubs haven’t met since before the deal was made..

It was the quarterfinals of the  CONCACAF Champions Cup (Precursor to the current Champions League) in 2002 and the Fire came back in the 2nd leg of the tie at then home Cardinal Stadium in Naperville IL, only to see their efforts couldn’t stave off elimination.

So Wednesday Night the sister-clubs meet for the first time in eight years.  Outside of the Houston-Pachuca match, this may be, on paper anyway, the tie of the group stages.

PACHUCA: TEAM (MEXICAN) AMERICA

CF Pachuca is fast becoming a breeding ground for talent; American talent. Pachuca has not one but THREE Americans on it’s roster.  Two of them saw action this summer for the United States at the World Cup.  Midfielder Jose Francisco Torres has been a mainstay at Pachuca and has won the CONCACAF Champions Cup with the Mexican superclub. Striker Herculez Gomez, who won the Golden Boot for the 2010 Mexican League Bicentario season with Puebla and was quickly snapped up by Pachuca. The 2010 SuperLiga will be the first action the Las Vegas native sees with Pachuca and it will be interesting to watch the 28-year-old  settle in at one of Mexico’s most successful clubs.  Now 24-year-old American Marco Antonio Vidal has also joined the club from recently relegated Indios of the Mexican League. The versatile Dallas native had fallen out of favor at Indios and was seeing limited minutes. The SuperLiga may provide a chance for Pachuca boss Guillermo Rivarola to see what he can make of the former US U15 who can play in the middle, on the left and at left back.

WORLD CUP RETURNEES

The 2010 SuperLiga will be the first competitive matches for a number of players who saw action during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Defender Jonathan Bornstein of Chivas USA and forward Herculez Gomez and midfielder Jose Francisco Torres of Mexican side CF Pachuca all played for the United States during the tournament.

Mexican World Cup team members back from South Africa include Efrain Juarez and Israel Castro of Pumas UNAM and Paul Aguilar of Pachuca. Pumas defender Dario Veron represented Paraguay.

FIRE QUESTIONS

The Chicago Fire have had, at best an awkward 2010 season.  Inconsistency, bad home form and injuries have made Carlos de los Cabos job that much more difficult.  Now, with SuperLiga dawning, the Fire are getting some regular starters back from injuries.  John Thorrington and Patrick Nyarko may see some time after spells with the medical staff, and look for the Men in Red to try and light sparks under erstwhile forward Collins John.  Some players will be getting a chance to impress de los Cabos, most notably 30-year-old trialist Bratislav Ristic. The Serbian midfielder has yet to sign with the club, but that may happen amid the turmoil of Thursday’s opening of the transfer window.  Regardless, Ristic is on the SuperLiga roster, and is highly thought of among the Fire staff.  The temperature is red-hot in Chicago and their aging stars, such as John and firmer US international Brian McBride may tire early, look for the Fire to use as many players as they can on Wednesday Night when they open against Morelia.

NEW FACES: GIANCARLO MALDONADO

Chivas USA announced the signing of Giancarlo Maldonado this week, and he may be just what the doctor ordered for a Chivas USA team that cannot seem to score.  The all-time leading scorer for Venezuela, Maldonado can provide goals. On loan from Mexican club Atlante, where he won the CONCACAF Champions League, Maldonado is familiar with the opponents that are coming to the Home Depot Center. Goats boss Martin Vasquez will be looking to use SuperLiga as the perfect chance to help get Maldonado to gel into the Chivas side without having vital Western Conference points on the line

REVOLUTION WOES
Former SuperLiga Champions New England Revolution will look at their recent win over the seemingly unstoppable Galaxy as a sign that things are turning around for the club. Steve Nichol’s side have at times underwhelmed and at other times been run off the park in the 2010 campaign.  The squad now seems to be settling down a bit anchored by the return of Shalrie Koseph, the teams midfield linchpin. The question is will Nichol use the SuperLiga to tweak his starting lineups and give rarely used players a look or will he build with the momentum of a regular starting XI, a rareity for the Rev’s this season, a chance to gel again.
PUMAS IN THE SHOP WINDOW

Three of Pumas UNAM players are the subject of serious transfer speculation and are looking at possible shifts to European clubs. Pablo Barrera, who was on the preliminary squad list for Pumas is currently in England fiinalizing a deal that will see the Mexican international sign with Premier League club West Ham United. The 23-year-old was under consideration from Manchester United who recently signed Mexican teenager Javier Hernandez. Team mate Efraín Juárez is also being looked at by West Ham, Manchester United as well as clubs in Spain after the defender turned down a deal to join Glasgow superclub Celtic. There is also speculation that midfielder Israel Castro is going to leave Pumas for a European club before the season begins.

CLICK HERE FOR 2010 SUPERLIGA ROSTERS

CLICK HERE FOR 2010 SUPERLIGA SCHEDULE AND TV TIMES

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