Clasico Regio, Pumas' winning streak headline Liga MX action
Week nine in Liga MX should prove to be an exciting few days. There are new managers hoping for success, fringe El Tri options looking to impress and a highly noteworthy rivalry match in Monterrey.
Let's take a look at the five things to watch during Week nine of the Liga MX Apertura:
1. Clasico Regiomontano
Other than the Clasico Nacional series between Chivas and America, there is no other rivalry match as big as the Clasico Regiomontano between Monterrey and Tigres.
The crosstown derby always draws a significant amount of enthusiastic fans, and Saturday should be no exception. Tigres' Estadio Universitario has pulled in 41,000-plus supporters in all four home games this season and will undoubtedly be just as packed when Los Rayados pay a visit.
At the moment, all of the momentum seems to be on the side of Tigres. Los Auriazules have the home advantage and are currently in the middle of a four-game winning streak. As for Monterrey, the visiting side hasn't found a victory in the league since Aug. 15.
Either way, there is no doubt that the match will be a spectacle to watch.
2. Santos seeking second straight win
It wasn't the most beautiful performance from Santos Laguna, but Los Guerreros pulled off a narrow 1-0 win over Puebla last Sunday through an own-goal from Los Camoteros' Mario de Luna.
The victory was the first for new manager Pako Ayestaran, and just the second of the tournament for the Clausura champions. This Friday against Atlas, Ayestaran has a golden opportunity to pick up a second win in a row and the first victory at home for Santos since May 28.
As for Atlas, it's difficult to predict how Gustavo Matosas' men will perform. Los Zorros have been completely inconsistent; losing 5-0 to Pumas one week, and then defeating America 3-1 at the Azteca another week. The squad has yet to have a striker take charge, and it is likely that Atlas will struggle in attack against Santos who are more organized under Ayestaran.
3. Recent call-ups for El Tri
On Tuesday morning, the Mexican Football Federation released the 32-man preliminary list for Mexico's match against the United States next month. While certain names like Carlos Vela or Hector Moreno appear to be likely starters on Oct. 10, multiple fringe players still have plenty to prove in order to convince interim Mexico manager Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti.
Over half the list is made up of Liga MX players who will look to have immediate success and attract attention this weekend.
Leon midfielders Carlos Pena and Luis Montes currently have plenty of competition in El Tri, and might have to exceed expectations in their match against Tijuana. Pachuca's Miguel Herrera and Tigres' Jose Arturo Rivas are undoubtedly defensive alternatives for the national team and would be lucky to even sit on the bench for Mexico.
Then there's Oribe Peralta. The 31-year-old has only scored once in his last four games for America and soon may not be able to keep up with the likes of Raul Jimenez, Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos, or Vela.
The aforementioned names are just a handful of players who will do their best to shine after their recent provisional call-up.
4. Pumas out for historic sixth consecutive win
The last time Pumas collected six consecutive wins was back in the 2002 Verano tournament. That run started with the last four games of the regular season and into the club's two quarterfinal matches in the Liguilla. You would have to go all the way back to Pumas' six-game run in the 1990-91 competition to find the last time Pumas achieved that feat during the regular season.
Pumas manager Guillermo Vazquez has a massive opportunity to earn that coveted sixth win when the team takes a short trip across town to face off against a weakened Cruz Azul. Los Cementeros are looking highly vulnerable at the moment sitting in last place and without a win in their last five matches.
Saturday's game at the Estadio Azul has a good chance of being very one-sided in Pumas' favor. The squad currently has the most lethal attack in the league with 22 goals scored in just eight matches.
Keep an eye on the attacking team of Matias Britos, Ismael Sosa, Fidel Martinez and Eduardo Herrera. At least one of the Pumas players is surely guaranteed a goal this weekend.
5. Positive first impression for Matias Almeyda
This Sunday, new Chivas manager Matias Almeyda will look to make a good first impression with the club after having an awkward start to his tenure.
Following the announcement of his hiring as manager, the Argentine attended Chivas' Copa MX on Tuesday, which ended in a dismal 1-0 loss to Morelia. After the defeat, fans gathered outside of Almeyda's private box and began to chant "Chepo, Chepo" in support of the recently fired Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre.
Although Almeyda had no role in the loss, it's a bad sign for the newly appointed manager, who now has the unenviable role of saving one of Mexico's most historical clubs from relegation. With little room for mistakes, and a fickle attitude from team owner Jorge Vergara, Almeyda must have success from the start with Chivas.
Los Rojiblancos have only gained two wins so far this season and will look to earn vital points against Queretaro this Sunday. Another loss will only make Almeyda's already daunting task even more difficult.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.