With the 2013 Apertura in the books, Goal's Tom Marshall names the players who covered themselves in glory during the competition.
But already the Clausura 2014 is creeping up and will be underway again on Jan. 3.
Before looking ahead to the new campaign, it is worth taking time out to look back over the best performers of the Apertura 2013 in each position.
Perhaps the strongest position in the Mexican league at present, Jesus Corona was once again Mr. Consistent for Cruz Azul, providing experience combined with world class saves. Elsewhere, Alfredo Talavera did his chances of getting into the national team no harm with some exceptional performances – particularly in the semifinal against America – while Federico Vilar may have had some shaky moments, but was the hero in the Copa MX final, even converting a penalty.
No. 1: William Yarbrough – The 24-year-old overcame the pressure of a full Azteca in the final second leg to produce a memorable performance and help Leon to the title. There were doubters that his inexperience at the top level could be a problem for La Fiera in the playoffs, but Yarbrough answered the criticism by doing his talking on the field.
The Apertura 2013 was the season 22-year-old Nestor Araujo at Santos Laguna bounced back to announce himself as one to watch for the future, while veterans Rafa Marquez and Jonny Magallon starred during Leon’s title run, as did Edwin Hernandez and Ignacio Gonzalez.
While it is difficult to know whether to put America’s wing backs Paul Aguilar and Miguel Layun in the defender or midfield category, both have been vital in establishing America’s style and in its run to topping the Apertura regular season table.
No. 1: Aquivaldo Mosquera – America’s defense leaked just 12 goals from 17 regular season games and the Colombian was the rock at the heart of it. Mosquera stepped up with the ball when required and even contributed with a couple of vital goals.
Perhaps the biggest compliment you could pay to Toluca’s Wilson Mathias is just how noticeable his absence in the semifinal second leg against America was. He’s become a vital pivot this season for Jose Cardozo’s impressive side.
Elsewhere, Aldo Leao once again pulled the strings for Morelia, Luis Montes was both a workhorse and an inspiration for Leon and Juan Carlos Medina looked like an international caliber holding midfielder for much of the campaign.
No. 1: Carlos Pena – This was Pena’s season and his form seemed to get better and better as it went on. The attacking surges, goals, creative passing mixed with his stamina and willingness to track back to make Pena the dynamo that led Leon to the title. A big 2014 awaits “Gullit.”
There were plenty of quality performances in the attacking third, from Oribe Peralta once again destroying defenses for Santos Laguna to Jefferson Montero exciting every time he got the ball for Morelia.
Angel Reyna started brightly with Veracruz, but faded along with the team, while Isaac Brizuela showed he is one to watch for the future, as did Santos’ Alonso Escoboza in his first season as a regular starter.
Leon’s Argentine striker Mauro Boselli was the hero of the playoffs with two goals against America and put his career back on path after lean spells at Wigan and Palermo.
No. 1: Pablo Velazquez – There’s not much between Velaquez and Boselli, but the Paraguayan gets the nod for finishing the regular season as the top scorer and for the surprise element in his performances. Yes, Velazquez has scored goals in Paraguay, but the tall, 26-year-old striker had only had an unsuccessful stint in Argentina outside his homeland before coming to Mexico, where he has caused defenses all sorts of problems in his debut season.