If Liga MX had an All-Star team, who would make the cut?
MLS fans can hardly complain when their league is organizing All-Star games like the one against Real Madrid in Chicago this week, but the pull of a potential MLS vs. Liga MX All-Star event sometime down the line is obvious from both sides.
What would a Liga MX starting XI and squad look like?
This is not an exact science, and some will be vehemently opposed to some of the choices. It's generally about picking the best players, but this would be a showcase event and you need to sprinkle some personality and star power in there.
What the list of 11 starters and 14 substitutes does give you is an overall snapshot of the quality of the league. It is interesting to note that only two of the starting XI is Mexican, with internationals from six other countries.
And with Liga MX not attracting designated players who arguably supersede the league average in terms of quality by some distance, it's perhaps more difficult to put together than in MLS. Liga MX isn't a single entity, and you can almost hear coaches like the outspoken Tigres honcho Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti moaning at players being taken away midweek to participate.
Getting Liga MX clubs to agree on a suitable date would be a headache, too. But nevertheless, while MLS openly flaunts its star names and boldly puts them up against some of the world's best teams each year -- even if it is preseason for the European sides -- it's interesting to see how Liga MX's best would stack up, even if it is only on paper. A 4-4-2 formation was chosen for simplicity.
Liga MX All-Star XI
Goalkeeper: Nahuel Guzman (Tigres)
A controversial first pick largely due to Guzman making some high-profile mistakes and his less-than-orthodox style. Queretaro's Tiago Volpi, Club America's Agustin Marchesin, Cruz Azul's Jesus Corona, Chivas' Rodolfo Cota and (before his recent injury) Toluca's Alfredo Talavera all could make good cases. But Guzman is one of the biggest personalities in Mexican football. The 31-year-old sweeper-keeper is a natural leader, a winner and a player who would bring instant character to a Liga MX All-Star side. He's also an Argentina international.
Right-back: Paul Aguilar (Club America)
This isn't an easy position to fill. Chivas' Jesus "Chapo" Sanchez has had a good couple of seasons but lacks Aguilar's international experience. The other contender would be Monterrey's Colombian international right-back, Stefan Medina.
Center-back: Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna)
It is very difficult to leave out Santos Laguna's goal-scoring defender Carlos Izquierdoz, Monterrey's Jose Maria Basanta and Club America's Pablo Aguilar, but Araujo has grown immensely over the last two years at Santos, becoming a regular for Mexico in the process. He's a player ready to experience life in European leagues.
Center-back: Oscar Murillo (Pachuca)
The 29-year-old is a rock for Pachuca and a defender who has started half of Colombia's World Cup qualifiers ahead of Russia 2018. Murillo isn't the biggest name in Liga MX, but he quietly goes about his business with consistency.
Left-back: Miguel Samudio (Club America)
Neither full-back position is easy. Atlas' Luis Reyes is a strong alternative to Samudio. The 26-year-old Reyes was playing in the second division two years ago but is likely to go to the 2018 World Cup with El Tri. The difference with Samudio is that he's already an established international with Paraguay, with Copa America and Copa Libertadores experience under his belt.
Right midfield: Enner Valencia (Tigres)
The Ecuador international has 21 goals in 25 Liga MX games. While he didn't adapt to life in England during his brief spell at West Ham, his quality shouldn't be in doubt, and the 27-year-old is a difference-maker thanks to his directness, pace and goal scoring.
Central midfield: Guido Rodriguez (Club America)
A class act for Club Tijuana last season and a huge offseason signing for Las Aguilas, defensive midfielder Rodriguez is only 23 and already an Argentine international. No more needs to be said.
Central midfield: Lucas Zelarayan (Tigres):
The attacking thrust and creativity would come from Zelarayan. The 25-year-old Argentina midfielder didn't get as much playing time as he had hoped when he signed for Tigres ahead of the Clausura 2016 but has grown to become a key player. You can bet many clubs in good European leagues would pay a lot of money to have a Rodriguez-Zelarayan partnership in central midfield.
Left midfield: Aviles Hurtado (Monterrey)
Hurtado's skill set isn't too different from that of Valencia. Both can play on either flank or down the middle. And both may be lacking defensively and possibly positionally on the wings in a 4-4-2 formation. But the explosiveness of the duo would be difficult to defend against. If the Liga MX All-Star team wanted a more balanced option, the guile and creativity of Chivas' Rodolfo Pizarro would be the natural alternative.
Striker: Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres)
Few players in the history of Liga MX have made an impact in the way the 31-year-old French striker Gignac has. He is the face of the league, and 53 goals in 84 games tells you all you need to know about what he has brought to Tigres.
Striker: Nicolas Castillo (Pumas)
The 24-year-old striker has already played in five leagues (including the Bundesliga and Serie A) in his short career but has really only given a good account of himself in Chile and Mexico. For Pumas, the lethal poacher Castillo carries the team on his shoulders at times and will be pushing Tigres striker Eduardo Vargas hard for a starting spot with Chile ahead of the World Cup.
Bench: Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Rafa Marquez (Atlas), Edson Puch (Pachuca), Eduardo Vargas (Tigres), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Rodolfo Pizarro (Chivas), Oribe Peralta (Club America), Jesus Duenas (Tigres), Jesus "Chapo" Sanchez (Chivas), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas), Tiago Volpi (Queretaro), Agustin Marchesin (Club America)
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.