It is early in 2017 and already MLS is on one of their “mostly paused” weekends. While five Seattle Sounders are away with their respective national teams the team will be facing off against Impulsora del Deportivo Necaxa S.A. de C.V. (Club Necaxa, or The Thunderbolts). Necaxa is not one of Liga MX’s greats. Quite recently they were in the Ascenso (2nd division).
SaH: Why would you want to watch Sounders v Necaxa during the international break?
FMFSoM: Despite them recently coming back into Liga MX from a five year stint in the Ascenso, Necaxa is a solid team. They made the semifinals of the Apertura Liguilla playoffs, and barring anything disastrous they should stay up in the top flight.
Necaxa has a solid corps of players, and they've got the talent to be a pretty regular playoff team. Chilean striker Edson Puch could start for even the biggest clubs in Mexico, and he and Argentine striker Claudio Riano will pose problems for most back lines. Their defense is a pretty solid unit, with Honduran right back Barayan Beckeles (who will be facing off against Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris in the hex), former Chivas (and Chivas USA) center back Mario de Luna, and Argentine goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero providing solid pieces perhaps to build on in the coming seasons. MLS journeyman Fabian Espindola also is with the team, however serves as a bench option more often than he starts.
SaH: Club Necaxa seems to scout Chile quite well. What's up with that?
FMFSoM: Necaxa has a long history of having Chilenos in the squad, perhaps most famous being Ivo Basay back in the early 1990's. Basay lead the club to a title in 1992-93 and lead Mexico in scoring that year with 27 goals, so Necaxa has that history with Chile and conversely Chile knows about Necaxa. Chile is also the fourth ranked team in the world right now, so it makes sense from that perspective that it would be a place to look for talent as well.
SaH: Does Mario de Luna still score amazing own goals?
FMFSoM: Haha not that I've seen lately, although he did this back in 2015.
He did have this happen to him earlier this year though...
SaH: Jesus Isijara might be their best player from Mexico. Is he someone that will suit up for El Tri soon?
FMFSoM: Never say never I guess, but it's pretty unlikely. Right wing is a position of great depth for Mexico. Frankfurt's Marco Fabian declined the call-up to focus on his fitness and place with Eintracht, Hirving "Chucky" Lozano of Pachuca was injured by Tijuana's Michael Orozco, Porto's Jesus "Tecatito" Corona, Real Sociedad's Carlos Vela, and Jürgen Damm of Tigres all rate much higher in Juan Carlos Osorio's lineups. At 27, you have to think the window to get his first cap has all but closed.
SaH: What's the best case for Necaxa in 2017?
FMFSoM: Best case scenario is they stay up in Liga MX (all but a mathematical certainty at this point), make a couple of good moves during the offseason this summer, and position themselves to make some real noise in the 2017 Apertura. They made the playoffs in the 2016 Apertura, so it's not entirely out of the question that they'd be in a decent position to make it again.