Liga MX 2014 Clausura preview

Posted by Andrea Canales

The 2014 Clausura is on like Donkey Kong, especially in the sense that the Liga MX almost feels like it never stops, given that there are two championships every year, complete with a playoff system. The feeling that the confetti has only recently stopped falling from Leon's Apertura triumph has given way to the new round of games, much like how the barrels kept rolling down in the popular arcade game. It's a frenetic pace, one made all the more chaotic by the extra pressure of the World Cup this year.

- Marshall: Positive result a must for Chivas
- Bell: Golden chance for Mohamed

In many ways, the excitement of Liga MX is at an all-time high. Not only is a league-affirmed coach at the head of the national team, but the squad that secured the qualification for Brazil 2014 was made up entirely of domestic-based players. Clearly, Miguel Herrera doesn't seem like a coach who will overlook any excellent performances in league play, so the incentive for players to perform well for their clubs is perhaps higher than ever.

A new season also brings new intrigue on the club level. The all-time championship list is currently tied at eleven between Guadalajara and Club America, two of the most storied teams in Liga MX. Club America fell just short in the final game of 2013 of besting that total with a clean dozen titles. Las Aguilas will likely contend again this season, but can new coach Antonio Mohamed take them to the promised land of another title?

There are many quality clubs vying for the title. Chief among them is Leon, who definitely found the formula to succeed against Las Aguilas and who return to the league fray relatively intact in terms of player personnel, especially squad leaders Rafael Marquez, Mauro Boselli and Carlos Pena. If these key stars can avoid injury, Leon could win back-to-back championships, something that eluded Club America this past December. That would give Leon a total of seven, which, while not a clean dozen, is a perfectly respectable number.

One team who would dearly love to add to their championship total is Cruz Azul. Los Cementeros have been stuck on eight titles since 1997. The championship drought has taken its toll and now the team has taken a slightly different approach to improvement. It has taken on two Mexican-American players. One, Jose Villarreal, is a young striker on loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy, and the other, midfielder Michael Farfan, has been signed outright. The big-name move, however, is the acquisition of Marco Fabian on-loan from Guadalajara.

Of course, no club boasts more U.S. players than Xolos of Tijuana, which has a grand total of seven on the roster. The club's priority is to return to the playoffs, which didn't happen in 2013, but the club could be primed to return to the top ranks.

Tigres is another solid club which has fallen short in the playoffs of late, but the club didn't make major changes for 2014. However, it did add defender Juan Pablo Ocegueda to the first-team roster, bringing him back from an unproductive loan to Chivas this past season. Morelia, the reigning Copa MX champions, will look to get a boost from their form in that competition to carry over to league play. Behind the play of their star striker, Oribe Peralta, Santos Laguna are always a threat to claim another championship.

Most of the other clubs in Liga MX will be grouped in the middle ground in terms of results, but Pumas is a historic club looking for a comeback from a season of shockingly poor games. It's lucky for the club that the relegation formula is based on multiple seasons, not one.

With that said, Atlante is the club most likely to take the relegation fall. However, there is an outside chance that the country's most beloved team, Guadalajara, could be in danger. The team has performed poorly for the past few seasons, and Chivas fans have grown increasingly frustrated and discontented. Just when the team should be fighting off Club America's claim to be the team with the most titles, Chivas can't even manage to make the playoffs.

However, the World Cup could play an outsized role in the outcome of this season. If Herrera relies, as he already has before, on Club America and Leon players for national team preparation matches and friendlies, it could take a toll on those clubs. That would leave the door open for a different champion entirely to claim the first Liga MX trophy of 2014.

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