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Mexicans Abroad Recap: Guardado leads Deportivo top, Castillo scores and is sent off, Ochoa and Ajaccio post another win

Mexicans Abroad Recap: Guardado leads Deportivo top, Castillo scores and is sent off, Ochoa and Ajaccio post another win

Guillermo Ochoa, AC Ajaccio (AC Ajaccio)

Andres Guardado was named Deportivo's captain and helped lead his team to the top of the Spanish second division with a game-winning assist. Nery Castillo had a notable week.


On the surface, it appeared to be a fairly quiet week for Mexican players plying their trade abroad, but outside the top level leagues there were plenty of interesting storylines to be found. Andres Guardado assumed the role of captain for Deportivo La Coruña with success, Guillermo Ochoa helped Ajaccio continue its revival, while Castillo drew plenty of attention in a Greek Cup tie, but not entirely for the right reasons.

Another quiet week in England

It was another quiet spell for the Mexican trio in England. While Javier Hernandez's Manchester United side comfortably beat Bolton 3-0 to keep the pressure in the title race, Hernandez was a 77th minute sub and didn't manage to produce much, though he was on the field for United's third goal of the game.

Amidst intense speculation about his future, Giovani dos Santos was left out of Tottenham's squad for both Premier League games this week, a 2-0 home win over Everton and a 1-1 draw with Wolves. On Saturday, BBC Radio reported that he had secured a loan move to Wigan Athletic for the rest of the season, but neither club has confirmed the deal.

Antonio Pedroza was not called into the squad for Crystal Palace's 1-1 draw with Leeds United or its 1-0 win in the League Cup semifinal over Cardiff City.

Guardado leads the way in Spain

Things were just as quiet for Mexicans playing further south in Spain, at least in the top flight. The only player to see action in the Primera this weekend was Carlos Vela, who entered as a 68th minute substitute in Real Sociedad's 1-0 win at Valencia and had some neat touches, but was unable to help the Basque side extend its lead.

Defender Hector Moreno started and played 55 minutes in Espanyol's midweek 4-2 win over Cordoba in the Copa del Rey, which saw it advance to the quarterfinals 5-4 on aggregate thanks to a last-gasp goal. He was then named to the bench in Espanyol's 0-0 draw at Sevilla on the weekend, but did not see playing time  In Espanyol's second team, Taufic Guarch started and played 71 minutes, but the team fell 1-0 to Castelldefels in the Tercera Division (fourth tier), its first home defeat of the season.

Pablo Barrera was not called up for Real Zaragoza's 1-1 draw with Getafe – it is likely that he will see out the season in Aragon, but questions remain as to how much playing time he'll get. Barrera's countryman at Zaragoza, Efrain Juarez, was taken off the roster to free up a non-EU roster spot, though he continues to train with the team. The two strongest possibilities regarding his future are that he returns to Celtic or home to Mexico, possibly with Santos Laguna, which has a working relationship with Celtic.

Though he was left out of a young squad for Barcelona's midweek win over Osasuna in the Copa del Rey, there was plenty of talk earlier in the week about the possibility of Jonathan dos Santos featuring for the first team in the league over the weekend. While he was indeed named to the bench for the 4-2 win over Real Betis, he did not see any time on the field. Consequently, he was not named to the Barcelona B squad that fell 3-1 to Las Palmas in Segunda Division play, its fifth straight game without a win.

There was some Mexican success in the second tier though, as Andres Guardado was named captain for Deportivo La Coruña's visit to Huesca. The team won 2-0 to move into first place, with Guardado assisting the opener with a curling free kick into the area. Elsewhere, Anibal Zurdo played the full 90 minutes for Guadalajara, but it was a forgettable game as the team crashed to a 4-0 defeat at Almeria.

French revival

After an awful start to the season, Guillermo Ochoa and Ajaccio have given themselves a fighting chance at survival. Ochoa was in the net once again as Ajaccio ground out a 2-1 win at home against Auxerre in a match that saw three red cards, including two to the home side. While the Corsican outfit is still last on goal differential, only four points separate it from 12th place, meaning its recent run of form has made the relegation battle in France that much more interesting.

Castillo scores, is sent off

Nery Castillo ended up scoring the lone goal for Aris in his team's 2-1 defeat at Atromitos in the Greek Cup. He gave his team the lead just seconds after the restart  with a placed right-footed finish after a nice passing move by Aris. However, Aris conceded two late goals, including one in the last minute of regulation, and in injury time, Castillo was shown a second yellow card for tripping an Atromitos player from behind, causing him to lose his temper. It was clear on the replays the cause for Castillo's reaction though, as he made no contact, with the Atromitos tripping and going to ground himself. As a result, he missed the league rematch with Atromitos over the weekend, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Elsewhere in Europe, Edson Rivera (Braga) was named to the bench but did not feature as his team moved into third place with a 2-1 win over Sporting CP. Francisco Rodriguez (Stuttgart) and Ulises Davila (Vitesse Arnhem), will return to action next weekend as the German and Dutch leagues, respectively, return from their winter breaks. The Croatian league, however, does not resume until mid-February, meaning Edgar Delgadillo (HNK Rijeka) has one more month off.

In the United States, MLS preseason camps are set to start up, and there are plenty of Mexicans plying their trade north of the border who will have a crack at winning MLS Cup 2012, the most notable of which include Pavel Pardo (Chicago Fire) and Rafael Marquez (New York Red Bulls). MLS First Kick is set for March 10.

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