Liga MX scoring surge may show Mexico striker situation isn't all doom and gloom
It was as if a magic wand had been waved and a spell cast to help Mexican goal-scorers find their shooting boots this weekend, with 13 of the 28 goals scored in Liga MX -- 46 percent -- netted by players born in the country.
Admittedly, that stat might not jump out for followers of other leagues, in some of which domestic players -- and particularly strikers -- get more opportunities. But not one of the top 10 goal-scorers in Liga MX heading into this weekend's games was Mexico-born. In round 14, only 31 percent of goals came from El Tri-eligible players; in round 13, the figure was 34 percent.
Round 15 of games in the Apertura will have brought a little smile to whoever is set to come in as Mexico's new head coach, with even Premier League strikers Javier Hernandez and Raul Jimenez scoring on Saturday and giving a reminder that they will also be fighting for their places in the new World Cup cycle. It was the first time two Mexicans have netted on the same day in England's top division, adding to the sense that Mexico's future in front of goal may not be all negative, as it has looked at times.
The wave of goal-scoring was also a boost ahead of the Mexico squad announcement later this week for the friendlies against Argentina on Nov. 16 and 20.
The best place to start in Liga MX has to be Pachuca's 6-2 mauling of listless Necaxa, in which Victor Guzman gave one of the outstanding individual performances of the Apertura so far, netting four goals.
It's difficult to know what else to say about 23-year-old Guzman, although the way he has stepped up after first Hirving Lozano and then Erick Gutierrez left Pachuca for Europe certainly enhances the feeling that this is a player treading the same path as his former teammates.
Judged on their own, not one of Guzman's four goals was particularly remarkable. The third was probably the pick of them, with the Guadalajara native driving a left-footed shot across Necaxa keeper Hugo Gonzalez. The other three were only notable for their simplicity, but in that lies one of the keys of Guzman's game: the attacking midfielder possesses an excellent awareness of space and the way he times his runs into the penalty area appears to be an innate gift.
That he has now scored nine goals this season -- as well provided five assists -- is no coincidence and Guzman is probably just ahead of Santos Laguna's Julio Furch and Cruz Azul's Elias Hernandez as the Apertura player of the season.
Over in the Estadio Azteca, two strikers that will have their fingers crossed that their names are included when the Mexico squad is announced later this week both scored in Club America's 1-1 draw with Toluca. The first to do so was 20-year-old Alexis Vega, who handed Toluca an early lead after being put through on goal to finish with aplomb. But it wasn't enough, as Henry Martin -- enjoying a rare start for Miguel Herrera's team -- leveled with an equally clinical shot.
For Monterrey, two Mexicans got on the score-sheet in their 2-0 home win over Veracruz. Rodolfo Pizarro scored his first goal -- and what a goal it was -- since last March and Jesus Gallardo sealed the victory.
And then there was Mauro Lainez scoring a solo effort for Lobos BUAP late on in their 3-1 win against Club Tijuana.
Finally, in Chivas' 2-2 tie with Puebla on Friday in Estadio Cuauhtemoc, striker Alan Pulido opened the scoring for Guadalajara, while the other three goals all came from Mexicans.
The worrying counter statistic to this weekend's goalscoring is that only seven Mexican strikers started games in Liga MX. A couple of positive days certainly doesn't change the underlying problem that not enough Mexican strikers are playing regular soccer in Liga MX, but at least they highlighted that it isn't all doom and gloom.