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Franco leaves the Tecos

MEXICO -- The Apertura Tournament 2007 has seen its worst week in terms of productivity; only 17 goals were scored, 11 less than last week.

Week 3 also came with the first firing. Argentinean-Mexican Dario Franco leaves the Tecos, after the March 3, 3-0 thrashing by the Atlante with barely one point for his team. The Leanos made the decision with little hesitation and have plans to hire a rookie: Jaime Ordiales. We'll see what happens.

But now we are concerned with a much more serious matter.

Even though the Game of the Week (Pumas-America) left a good impression and Puebla still looks like a Primera A team, the really distressing issue is what wasn't done by some of the great players, of whom big things are expected.

The Other Investment

With Jorge Vergara, Chivas is no longer investing big money bringing in star names. The focus in on opportunities for the players in their farm system, even though the results at the new tournament have been poor. The team lost in Morelia (1-0) and has two ties.

In order to cover for the loss of Bofo Bautista, enthusiastic Omar Arellano was brought in from Pachuca. Young Arellano reaches the area but doesn't score. Without Alberto Medina, who isn't ready to come back yet, the team is in need of experienced replacements capable of stopping the fall. There's no punch.

While the youngsters gain experience, Chepo De La Torre is risking it all, and enduring the rojiblancos worst start since the short Mexico '86 tournament.

Off Course

Uruguayan manager Sergio Markarian is paying for his lack of experience in Mexican soccer at Cruz Azul. His only outside experience was in Paraguay, where he won it all. But his approach is not working in Mexico.
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The Machine derailed in San Luis (3-1), where Raul Arias showed off his tactical mind and taught everyone a lesson. Markarian paid for his excessive caution, and his men don't respond at the key moments. Forward Miguel Sabah, didn't respond to his coach's mandate --score or sit -- and failed again. Chelito Delgado scored a goal, but also found woodwork. Richard Nunez is best suited to play behind the forwards in order to produce. Paraguayan Cristian Riveros doesn't fit with the Torrado-Israel duet in center field. There are many adjustments to make and a lot of work to be done.

A Question Of Style

The saying "a team reflects the style of its coach" is well represented by Tigres and Tolo Gallego. The felinos suffered their second consecutive loss, the first at home, due to their lack of offensive ambition and the woes that affect their key players.

But Walter Gaitan is too good for the bench, so Tolo has sentenced reserve El Loco and Kikin Fonseca. He demanded goals from both, but none delivered. The only Tigres goal was scored by Jose Rivas against his team (for the Cruz Azul).

There's only one more drastic measure left: sacrificing the style, giving more freedom to the players, sharing the ball. Of course, that won't happen, so we'll have to wait for the awakening of the stars.

Special Mention

1. Pachuca and Santos, general leaders. They are on a perfect pace: nine points in nine games.

2. San Luis and Atlante, sub leaders. They don't have losses; two wins and a tie.

3. Nexaca, third. Two wins. Hans Westerhoff knows how to score.

4. Pumas: 12 consecutive games without a win in the league.

5. The legion of Jalisco doesn't give a break. Chivas, Atlas and Tecos combine for 4 out of 27 possible points.

6. Why wasn't Alex Fernandes removed from the field after his crash with Edoardo Isella? He fainted 10 minutes later due to a skull fracture.

FutMex Challenge

On the rise

1. Cristian Eduardo Gimenez, Toluca. The Argentine forward made his debut in Week 2 with good results, and on Week 3 he scored the winning goal in the game against the Tigres.

2. Giancarlo Maldonado, Atlante. The Venezuelan forward was discarded by Pumas a couple of tournaments ago and today he shines for the Potros. He scored against Tecos in a 3-0 hammering and has two to his name.

3. Alfredo Moreno, San Luis. A change in surroundings for the Argentine has worked miracles for him. He leads the league with four points.

4. Cristian el Chaco Gimenez, Pachuca. The Argentine has become a factor in his team. He scored a brilliant goal for a win over the Atlas (1-0).

5. Cristian Benitez, Santos. The Ecuadorian is strong, fast and solid. He's scored two goals for his team and converted against the Veracruz.

6. Naelson Sinha, Toluca. He scored against Santos and his impressive play against the Tigres helped the reds land their first win of the tournament.

Losing stock

1. Walter Gaitan, Tigres. In the last tournament Gaitan was limited by a series of injuries and wasn't much help for his team when he did play.

2. Miguel Sabah, Cruz Azul forward. He's active near the goal, but pressure still affects him and hinders his ability to score.

3. Francisco Kikin Fonseca, Tigres forward. He travels without a compass. He doesn't find the ball and he's starting to hear some boos.

4. Guillermo Marino, Tigres. He had a good start in Jaime Lozano's place, but he's starting to come apart.

5. Omar Bravo, Chivas striker. Three games and only one goal. He's not finding his shot.