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Martino's arrival and more: 10 things Mexico fans should watch for in 2019

7:00 PM GMT+4 01/01/2019
Tata Martino Atlanta United
Goal takes a look at what El Tri fans can expect from the new year, plus makes a few predictions about both the national team and Liga MX

  • Tata Martino Atlanta United

    Tata Martino arrives

    It's not exactly a closely guarded secret, but Mexico should hire a men's national team coach early in the year. It should be Gerardo "Tata" Martino.

    Fresh off winning MLS Cup with Atlanta United after just two seasons, the Argentine will come to Mexico looking for a new challenge. He'll find it but also will be tasked with thinking long-term as El Tri looks to compete for the 2026 World Cup which will begin on home soil in addition to the 2022 tournament that is approaching more quickly.

  • Guillermo Ochoa Mexico

    El Tri returns to Gold Cup final

    Mexico won the 2015 Gold Cup final but missed out on the final altogether in 2017, with an alternate team falling short against Jamaica in the semifinals.

    This year will see El Tri's A-team return to the competition, with Mexico taking part in this summer's Gold Cup but not the Copa America. With all attention on its own region, Mexico should be able to return to the final where the United States may be waiting by design - though Costa Rica or another upset-minded team could once again complicate things.

  • Hirving Lozano PSV 2018-19

    Lozano makes his move

    Hirving Lozano was expected to move on from PSV after just one season but stayed put despite his standout showings at the World Cup. This winter, his name once again is being linked to huge clubs like Chelsea and Milan.

    El Tri fans may find his name in the transfer rumor sections yet again in the summer, with the Dutch champion not under an obligation to sell for anything less than what it wants for the 23-year-old winger. But whether it's in January or after the Gold Cup, look for 2019 to be the year Lozano takes yet another jump and joins one of the world's largest clubs.

  • Ivan Marcone Cruz Azul

    This year is 'el bueno' for Cruz Azul

    Cruz Azul hasn't won the league since 1997, and the Apertura runners-up have gotten close to winning before only to fall off the next season (it's happened six times since the last title). This prediction could look very silly in 2020. Yet, there's a reason La Maquina could final roll to a title.

    Rather than be content with the same team that topped the regular-season table and made it to the final, the club is making more alterations. Former Chivas midifleder Orbelin Pineda and ex-Santos Laguna forward Jonathan Rodriguez continue with sporting director Ricardo Pelaez's strategy of spending for players with proven Liga MX track records. It should pay off either in the upcoming Clausura or in the following Apertura.

  • Chicharito West Ham Premier League

    Chicharito revival continues after transfer

    It was easy for Mexico's all-time leading scorer to be out of sight, out of mind for the past several months. Javier Hernandez was knocked out of action for several months because of illness and had to work his way back.

    He's experienced a mini-resurgence with West Ham United, though, with four goals in seven starts. That's still not as impressive as fellow El Tri player Raul Jimenez at Wolves, but they're respectable numbers.

    Hernandez reportedly is a target for Valencia and a handful of other La Liga teams. Look for one to capture his services, and look for not only a return to frequent scoring for his club in 2019 but also a revival with the national team.

  • Roberto Alvarado México

    U-20s will show well in Poland

    Mexico's U-20s fell short of the Concacaf title, losing in the final to the United States. Still, fans should expect plenty out of a strong crop of players when they head to Poland for the U-20 World Cup.

    The draw isn't until February, but Mexico will take its preparations seriously for the tournament - which runs from late May to early June. Players like Diego Lainez and Roberto Alvarado, plus others who were at last summer's Toulon Tournament, should be able to gel and show the best of Mexico's youth development. 

  • Edson Alvarez Mexico Alexander Larin El Salvador

    Nations League launch a success

    It will be easy for fans and the press to sneer at the Concacaf Nations League as more games that Mexico doesn't need. However, the tournament will produce anything but moleros.

    We saw just how fun the format can be with the inaugural edition of the UEFA Nations League. When El Tri gets started in September, it too will be facing high-quality teams in a format that requires them to win and win quickly.

    Rather than more boring friendly matches, the Nations League should lead to exciting contests against teams in the region who are on the rise.

  • Isaac Brizuela Chivas Kashima Club World Cup

    Chivas come up empty

    Things in Guadalajara should get better. Chivas have finally signed some players, addressing their center-back issues by signing Hiram Mier from Queretaro, bringing in Jesus Molina from Monterrey to shore up the middle and looking to improve up front with Alexis Vega joining from Toluca. They also re-signed Javier "La Chofis" Lopez and given players who needed a change of scenery the chance to leave.

    Yet, when you look at the likely XI for Chivas in the upcoming season, it looks more like a team that will be fighting for the Liguilla than fighting for titles. That'll be a lot more fun to watch than what they did in the latter half of 2018, but still not enough for the legion of fans who expect the grande to win another title to match America after Las Aguilas pulled ahead in the all-time total with December's win.

  • Diego Lainez Club America

    Lainez completes Europe transfer

    America is asking for a high price for the teenage sensation, one that might see him stay in Mexico City for another window. But it's difficult to imagine a player on the radar for so many European teams, who has expressed his desire to try his luck across the pond, staying beyond the summer.

    Lainez will be in the shop window on a number of occasions. So, while the move to Ajax widely reported to be done before the second leg of the final might fall through, expect someone to come in and pay for the talented left-footer sooner rather than later.

  • Andre-Pierre Gignac Tigres

    The North remembers

    After the final between Monterrey's two teams, there were predictions that Tigres and Rayados would be the top teams in Liga MX for some time. A surprise title run by Santos Laguna meant teams from the north of the country won both the Apertura and Clausura titles. The balance of power had shifted.

    Then it shifted back. Mexico City clubs dominated the Apertura, with America beating Cruz Azul in a two-legged final that saw both legs take place in the Estadio Azteca. 2019 will see Monterrey teams be more competitive, with Santos and Club Tijuana also getting back in the mix.