As the Mexican league kicks off the Liguilla on Wednesday, three of the four quarterfinal series will feature American players.
Daniel Hernandez and Jaguares will take on Cruz Azul tonight while San Luis (Michael Orozco) and Santos (Edgar Castillo) will begin their respective title quests on Thursday.
Jaguares faces a tough challenge in Cruz Azul. The two clubs met in Chiapas on Week 13 and Cruz Azul came away with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory. Hernandez should take his usual spot in central defense for Jaguares. Hernandez struggled against Cruz Azul. He picked up a yellow card in the 41st minute and was taken off in the 73rd minute in the last meeting. Hernandez, though, started 11 of Jaguares' final 12 games this season.
On Thursday, Orozco could return to the playing field for the first time in three games. Orozco missed the season finale - a 4-1 loss at Santos - and the entire repechaje series against Pachuca. Without Orozco in central defense, San Luis suffered as replacement Alfredo Gonzalez Tahuilan was shaky at best, particularly in the 2-1 second-leg loss to Pachuca. Orozco has been training and appears set to regain his spot on the backline when San Luis visits Toluca. The series is probably the most evenly matched one of the quarterfinal round.
Also, Santos begins its title quest at Necaxa. Castillo will be a fixture on the left side as he has been during parts of the Clausura 2008 season. Castillo missed a portion of the season with the Mexican Under-23 national team and also missed time due to injury but Castillo has gone the distance in four consecutive matches. Santos seemingly has the upper hand over Necaxa as the Laguneros have been able to rest for the last 10 days or so while Necaxa survived a tough series against Atlas in the repechaje round.
The other series - Chivas-Monterrey - features as much intrigue as any of the others. Chivas finished atop the regular season table but Monterrey went on an offensive tear down the stretch. Also, one of Monterrey's better victories down the stretch was against Chivas, as Monterrey beat Guadalajara 1-0 in El Tec on April 19.