The Liga MX 2014 Apertura season has kicked off just as soccer fans are emerging from whatever stage of World Cup-induced emotion provoked by their team's performance. For Mexico fans, following their favorite national team players in Liga MX action comes with a bit of trepidation. With a good performance at the world's biggest tournament, a beloved player may transfer to a rival squad, or be picked up by a team abroad.
So that was in the background of the clash between Club America and Leon, the most recent champions of Liga MX. Yet despite the lively play of Mexican nationals, such as Oribe Peralta, Carlos Pena, Rafael Marquez, Miguel Layun, Paul Aguilar and Raul Jimenez, it was a Paraguayan player Osvaldo Martinez who stepped forward with two goals to secure the win for Las Aguilas. He heads up this week's Best XI of Liga MX.
Here is the best XI:
Osvaldo Martinez, Club America: Granted, he had some help from a shocking error by Leon goalkeeper William Yarbrough, but when a player scores twice in a tough marquee match, it's no fluke. The attacking midfielder seems to be on song this season, and may indeed become the player many hoped for when he transferred to the club in 2013.
Daniel Luduena, Pumas: Another attacking midfielder, Luduena scored the team's final goal in a 3-1 triumph over Club Queretaro. He also set up the opener with a feed to Ismael Sosa in the first five minutes of the match. Of course, it's incredibly early in the season, but Luduena's form could put Pumas not merely in the ranks of respectable performers this season, but outright contenders.
Andres Renteria, Santos Laguna: The Laguneros don't have Oribe Peralta any more, but Renteria reminded their fans that he is still on the squad, young and hungry for goals. His classy finish just before the first half ended provided Santos with the goal needed to secure an away win versus Veracruz.
Humberto Suazo, Monterrey: Sure, the Leones Negros are the newly promoted kids on the block, but sometimes the energy of recent arrivals can be tough to match. Veteran forward Suazo showed the newbies what Liga MX is all about, with an accurate free-kick strike and a slick assist on the final goal for the Rayados in a 3-1 victory.
Cesar Delgado, Monterrey: It was Delgado's goal that broke the 1-1 draw in favor of Los Rayados in the second half. Delgado provided an important morale booster for his squad, since Suazo had failed to convert a penalty-kick opportunity a minute earlier. After Delgado scored, Monterrey added another goal for a comfortable victory.
Isaac Brizuela, Toluca: Midfielder Brizuela wasn't able to break the draw between his team and Morelia, but he was active in his attempts to do so. A sharper referee would probably have spotted the foul infraction on Brizuela in the first half and granted a penalty kick, but that didn't quite work out for him.
Luis Fuentes, Pumas: The defender was adamant at the start of the season that this Pumas club can make some serious noise in Liga MX if given the chance. He backed that up with his effective play, ensuring a 3-1 victory for the Pumas.
Miguel Angel Herrera, Pachuca: Things got crazy for Pachuca in the rain against Cruz Azul. A fluke goal by Matius Alustiza put them ahead of Los Cementeros, and the players fought to hold their advantage. Two red cards in the second half put the pressure on the defenders, but Herrera's play made sure they closed out the match with a win.
Michael Orozco, Puebla: Orozco got into the action early by helping to set up the lone goal in the game for Puebla, feeding Luis Lorona for the finish. Most of all, the U.S. international's hard work on defense to keep a charging Tijuana Xolos squad at bay was especially notable. A foolish red card by Efrain Cortes left Puebla clinging to their slim lead a man down in the final 20 minutes of the match. With Orozco's steady example to follow, Puebla pulled through.
Jose Abella, Santos Laguna: Abbella doesn't get the same attention that his cousin Miguel Layun does, but he had a sterling match against Veracruz. It probably didn't feel like an away game for the defender, since he grew up in the area. Whatever the motivation, Abella has started the season well for Santos Laguna. Since he's only 20 years old, look for even more improvement as he gains more experience.
Carlos Rodriguez, Morelia: The young goalkeeper was able to keep his team in the match versus Toluca even after being a man short early in the second half due to a second yellow for Fernando Silva. Rodriguez made timely saves and organized his defenders well to secure a precious away point for his squad.
This week's best XI for Liga MX may not be the players some fans expected to shine after the World Cup. However, there are many more game days left, now that the season has finally begun.