In a league often dominated by teams in the center of the country - and in a week during which many eyes will be fixed on a Clasico in Mexico City - Santos Laguna and Monterrey face off in the north.
The matchup should demand plenty of attention. In addition to being the reigning champion, Santos also is on a hot streak. Los Guerreros bring a five-match unbeaten run into Friday's contest.
Monterrey isn't playing poorly either, sitting fifth despite a spate of injuries and earning a spot in the Copa MX final with a semifinal victory earlier this week. Maybe the eyes of the nation aren't on this game, but they should be.
|Game||Santos Laguna vs Monterrey|
|Date||Friday, October 26|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States, the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|Univision Deportes Network||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Santos Laguna players|
|Defenders||Abella, Alcoba, Arteaga, Angulo, Nervo, Castro, Doria|
|Midfielders||De Buen, Isijara, Orrantia, Martinez, Cetre, Lozano, Rivas, Quinonez, Vazquez, Cortes, Martinez|
|Forwards||Furch, Herrera, Rodriguez, Preciado|
Winger Jesus Isijara is recovered from the muscle spasms that kept him out against Pachuca and after a full week training with the rest of the team should be ready to suit up against Rayados.
Potential Santos Laguna XI: Orozco; Abella, Nervo, Doria, Angulo; Isijara, Martinez, Vazquez, Lozano; Furch, Rodriguez
|Goalkeepers||Barovero, Carrizo, Resendez|
|Defenders||Montes, Sanchez, Gutierrez, Vangioni, Basanta, Vasquez, Medina|
|Midfielders||A. Gonzalez, Ortiz, Gallardo, Molina, J. Gonzalez, Rodriguez|
|Forwards||Funes Mori, Pabon, Urretaviscaya, Hurtado, Madrigal, Pizarro|
It's a quick turnaround for Monterrey coming off a Copa MX semifinal against Pachuca that went to penalty kicks Tuesday.
Rogelio Funes Mori is eligible to return up top after missing the league match against Toluca because of a one-match red card suspension. Center back Cesar Montes remains out with a abductor injury, but Jose Basanta and Rodolfo Pizarro have recovered from their injuries.
Potential Monterrey XI: Barovero; Molina, Sanchez, Basanta; Gutierrez, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Gallardo; Pabon, Funes Mori, Hurtado
A mouthwatering appetizer awaits Liga MX fans this weekend.
The matchday gets underway with Rayados making a quick trip west to Torreon to face Santos Laguna. Santos has been rolling along, undefeated in its last five matches and sitting in third place after winning the league last season. It didn't look like repeating would be an option for Santos, with center back duo Carlos Izquierdoz and Nestor Araujo leaving during the offseason and top scorer Djaniny following suit.
Then, manager Robert Siboldi headed for the exits as well, citing a dispute with a player. Salvador Reyes took over and has guided the club well, with forward Julio Furch picking up the slack for Djaniny. Furch's 10 goals are tied for the league lead.
Rayados sit two places behind Santos, even though have struggled with injuries this season and forced manager Diego Alonso to get creative in his first tournament leading the team. The former Pachuca boss has seen players like Jesus Molina excel in positions they haven't played and youth players like Daniel Lajud and Eric Cantu respond to the challenge of missing minutes.
That said, the potential returns of playmaker Rodolfo Pizarro and defender Jose Maria Basanta would be welcomed by Alonso this weekend, as was forward Aviles Hurtado's return to the lineup as a substitute last weekend.
Hurtado being back to fitness and Rogelio Funes Mori eligible to return from suspension this week brings up the chance that the attacking trident of Hurtado, Funes Mori and Dorlan Pabon makes its return to the field this weekend. That would put pressure on a Santos defense that, with young fullbacks and an imported center-back pairing, has conceded only 14 times in 13 league matches - tying it for the fourth-best mark in the league.
Even if that group is healthy and playing together, there's something about Santos playing in the Estadio Corona that makes it tough to beat. The club has won 11 times at home in 2018, more than any team in the league, and hasn't tasted a home defeat since April.