When Angel Reyna signed on the dotted line for Liga MX newcomer Veracruz and then stated that there were 13 teams, including Brazil’s Santos, Fulham, Villarreal and Betis jockeying to sign him, there were those who doubted the veracity of his words.
After all, Reyna has had his problems with previous teams, didn’t exactly shine last season with Pachuca and, at 28, is at an age that players don’t tend to make the leap out of Mexico. He also didn’t play a single minute for the national team in its disastrous summer.
But after four games in the shirt of the Tiburones Rojos, it is Reyna who is having the last laugh at those who mocked his decision-making. The former America player has seven goals, is playing behind a central striker and has fired unfancied Veracruz into first position in the Liga MX. The last player to start a season in Mexico so prolifically was Javier Hernandez in the Bicentenario 2010.
The often-controversial forward is the main man at Veracruz and he seems to be relishing the responsibility. The question doing the rounds in Mexico now is not whether Reyna should be in the national team squad, but what role he should occupy.
Considering his form, the fact he hasn’t been tarnished by the miserable summer, and that element of the unknown he possesses – sorely missing in El Tri at present – Reyna deserves to start against the Ivory Coast on Aug. 14. He looks impossible to play against at the moment, causing all sorts of problems and has certainly been outshining the likes of Marco Fabian, Christian Gimenez and Lucas Lobos.
But while Reyna has been the main headline-grabber in the early stages of the season, he’s certainly not the only big story after four rounds of matches.
Morelia is usually there or thereabouts when it comes to liguilla time in the Liga MX, but this season the Michoacan side has started with real intent and lies in second place in the league, just one point behind Veracruz.
Ecuadorian Jefferson Montero has been inspirational for Monarcas, scoring an array of golazos among his total of five goals. Chilean Hector Mancilla has also done what he knows best and is on four goals.
Perhaps this might be the year Morelia becomes a serious challenger? The key could be holding onto Montero until the European transfer window slams closed in a few weeks.
One of the other teams to impress has been third-placed Leon, which was a Jekyll and Hyde type of side in its first year back in the first division, flying in the Apertura 2012, but struggling the season after.
This time around, Uruguayan coach Gustavo Matosas appears to have more of a balance in La Fiera and the squad is deep. The likes of Matias Britos, Franco Arizala and Eisner Loboa were all used from the substitutes bench in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Pachuca.
Then there is Santos Laguna. They may have only played three games, but the Torreon-based team is undefeated and Portuguese coach Pedro Caixinha now has six months experience in Mexico behind him.
Like Leon, Los Guerreros look to have a deep squad and – importantly – Oribe Peralta getting slowly but surely into his goal-scoring stride.
At the other end of the scale, the major disappointment has been Pumas, with coach Antonio Torres Servin hanging onto his job by a thread and fans demanding his exit. Pumas have scored just once in their four games.
Atlante, Atlas and Puebla were not expected to be fighting near the top, but Tigres and Monterrey in 13th and 14th, respectively, is a shock, even if you get the feeling both won’t be so low down the table in a month’s time.
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- Angel Reyna