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PUMAS Blog: Apertura 2006 Regular Season Review

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Apertura 2006 Regular Season Review

It was the best of seasons, it was the worst of seasons; a season of highs, a season of lows; a season of tension, a season of joy, a season of records, a season of omens.

Really we can just call this a great season. We finished second in the general table. Our descenso situation is much better than it was, and we look a tight well organised outfit.

When the directors offered him the job they told him they wanted at least 26 points from the Apertura 2006. And Tuca got 29. And make no mistake about it, he dragged those points as if from stone. It took us, and the players, a while to really get into his style, but I love it. I think he does not have a great record in liguillas, he is more suited to a campaign. But that’s fine, we need, at all times, to concentrate on the descenso, and he has done that.

I genuinely enjoy his method, of soaking up pressure, playing possession football, probing and testing weakness, building, building pressure, until the opposition cracks. He has always shown himself incisive and accurate in exploiting weaknesses. The only time this has failed is when we concede first, especially early. This was our problem in out mid-season malaise, 3 points in 4 games. But he kept true to his system, his players responding more and more week on week. A great performance.

This has hung over us all season, and will continue to. In all the celebrations following the Tigres match both Mahbub and Tuca pointed out that we are only half way there, still 17 to go. Mahbub did say, however, he hoped for a great liguilla, because “The lads deserve it”. And they do, too. It seems, distinct to previous years, that the three points knocked off for failing to play young Mexicans for 765 minutes in the tournament will count towards the descenso. Happily San Luis and Queretaro failed to, so we start thus:- 1.2235 Tigres, Tecos and PUMAS 104 from 85; 1.961 San Luis 61 from 51; 1.1176 Santos 95 from 85 and 1.0588 Queretaro 18 from 17.

“Build From The Back” – Record Defence
As Cloughie said, football is like life, you build from the back. This seems to be Tuca’s philosophy too, and he guided Pumas to second spot whilst conceding only 11 in 17 games. Given his pre-season comment “We don’t need to worry about losing Beltran, we have Marco Antonio Palacios” it seems incredible. To put this in perspective, not only is it the lowest conceded this short season, it’s the lowest conceded in any short season, matching Atlante’s from Winter 1996 tournament. And we finished joint 10th in the goals scored, along with America. We have been mocked for being boring and rubbish all season, not least by Americanistas. How sweet, then, to finish higher than them, with the same goals scored.

The Cantera
Another thing we have been knocked for this season is that we no longer produce players from the cantera. This season we finished second only to Atlas in terms of minutes played by young Mexicans. Of course defence is a whole-team responsibility, but look at the players who have played in defensive roles this season:- Dario Veron excepted. Israel Castro, Fernando Espinoza, Marco Pikolin Palacios, Hector Moreno, Efraín Velarde:- all five “born in CU”, all five born in the 1980’s. In goal Bernal is also puro Puma, RoRo a recent acquisition. But we can be proud, that defensive record was truly HECHO EN CU. We have also had run outs for various young forward players, often in tense situations. Not many teams would do that with the Descenso breathing down their necks.

Last time we finished second was in the Clausura 2004, when we went on to win the Championship……

AWARDS:- would be great if you could all post your own awards.
Best Game: - We have seen some great games this season, Monterrey, Veracruz, Tigres, etc, but I will plump for 0-0 v Toluca. Why? it is not, I assure you, just to annoy Frank. It was early on, and Toluca and Marioni seemed unstoppable. We were just getting used to what Tuca was trying. In this sparky confrontation we began to see how Tuca’s plan of building from the back, testing teasing and probing could work. We also enjoyed a great display full of promise from Scocco. Fascinating battle of wits between Tuca and Tolo Gallego
Worst Game:- Pachuca. Sin duda.
Best Performance:- We have seen loads of great individual performances this season, Gonzalez v Monterrey, Espinosa coming on for the injured Sancho v Cruz Azul, Velarde v Monarcas, RoRo v San Luis to name but four. However I am going back to the Toluca game. He promised us he would be a “wall” against his old team mate, Marioni, and so Dario Veron proved to be. Awesomely solid.
Worst Performance:- Its very tempting to go for Pikolin v Pachuca, or even Veracruz, but our defence has been so good I would feel bad for that. Also Reinaldo will get enough grief elsewhere, so I will leave him alone, although he was particularly rotten v Chivas. So El Chupa Lopez gets my vote, I really wanted to say v Atlante, because he was awful that day, his first touch, after twenty minutes, was to put a simple 5 yard pass into touch. However he did take the disallowed goal well that day, so I will go for his outing v Queretaro. Just didn’t really look like a footballer.
Best Moment: - There has also been some great moments throughout this tournament, but for me it is the moment the ball hit the back of the net v Cruz Azul. An historic win, joy was unconfined.
Worst Moment:- Check the video:- it is sickening within four minutes v Atlante we lose a goal, and worse, Bernal’s arm snaps back horrendously. We never recovered in that match, despite a great Pikolin showing. We did not know then that RoRo would do so well, it looked like our season was over.
Turning Point of Season:- Our worst part of the season, three draws followed by a bad loss at home to Atlante. Next up, struggling Tecos. We were in control, but seemed to be lacking confidence. We got the break we needed, a penalty. Scocco stepped up and takes a moment for his thoughts. He buried it, if not, I could see us crack and fizzle out of the season. As it was we went on to win 2-0, and ultimately finish second overall.
Best Goal:- Again some great goals amongst the 21, Gonzalez v Queretaro, Chupa v Monterrey, Parejita and Scocco v Tigres etc. However, I am going back to the first home game of the season, and Leandro’s “All Terrain” effort v Veracruz. Glorious individual goal, and his first for a couple of years.
Most Improved:- No question, the big man himself Marco Antonio Pikolin Sideshow Bob Palacios Started dodgy, but grew and had some awesome games, Monarcas, Atlante, San Luis, his ball control got better, his distribution, and I don’t think he has lost a header in about 5 weeks. After the debacle of Pachuca he did extra training, and the legend has it that when Tuca said he was not dropped, the Big Man grabbed him and gave him a kiss. No one can question his passion; watch him during the himno, raring to go. He has concentrated hard, and we were delighted when he was rewarded with his goal v Tigres. Only he and Castro played every minute of this season, and he got only one yellow card, great stuff for a big centre-back.
Broken Bird Award:- for the player who spent most time lying on the ground like a broken bird. Parejita seems sometimes to be made of straws, but he always managed to continue, even after some very hard challenges. Strangely cannot find a single photo of him crumpled.
Player of the Season:- The most prestigious last. I know you all think I will go for Scocco, but I am choosing a player more true to our roots. A player who has also improved, but plays with a maturity way beyond his age. Like myself, a full-back, a position where you need to be good in more departments than any other. A great hustler, he covers the ground quickly, and has a strong tackle. His distribution is superb, and he is very comfortable on the ball. Week-in week-out he has been solid for us, with some highlights, such as the awesome game he had v Monarcas. In the end it is his consistency that led me to favour him, and the fact that I have not once thought about Gonzalo Pineda this season. Step forward El Chispa himself:- Mr Efrain Velarde

Even if you can’t post all your awards, do stick up best player, at least. We can have a vote.

OK, so here they are, the average ratings this season, followed by games played (whether as sub or not), goals, mom, minutes played, and goals per min (scored, or conceded for keepers)

7.47 Ignacio Scocco 17-6-4-1138-(190)
7.25 Dario Veron 16-0-1-1435
7.17 Rogelio Rodriguez 6-(2)-0-533-(266.5)
7.12 Parejita Lopez 17-4-2-1501-(375.25)
7.07 Ariel Gonzalez 15-4-2-1090-(272.5)
7.07 Leandro Augusto 15-1-2-1286
6.94 Efrain Velarde 17-0-1-1502
6.90 Antonio Sancho 10-0-1-779
6.77 Hector Moreno 13-0-1-733
6.76 Marco Antonio Palacios 17-1-1-1530
6.67 Fernando Espinoza 9-0-0-663
6.60 Fernando Morales 5-1-0-218
6.58 Sergio Bernal 12-(9)-0-997-(111)
6.41 Israel Castro 17-0-1-1530
6.25 Oscar Alanis 4-0-0-107
6.20 Alex Diego 5-0-0-244
6.00 Ariel Lopez 12-3-1-548-(183)
6.00 Pablo Bonells 1-0-0-19
6.00 David Toledo 2-0-0-90
5.87 Reinaldo 15-1-0-644
5.56 Ismael Iñiguez 9-0-0-210
5.50 Pablo Barrera 2-0-0-19

Very pleased that Paisano Gonzalez came so high, he did start slowly, and fans seemed to be on his back all the time, but he really works so hard, and I have said it before, defences hate playing against him, he’s so lively. Maybe you are correct about my view of Chupa being tainted, but I am not impressed overly.

Next Up:-
The Quarter-Finals. If Toluca beat Jaguares, we get Pachuca, the worst loss this season. If Jaguares win, we get the winner out of Chivas v Veracruz. Toluca have a tough time, as they play the first leg of this in Chiapas on Thursday night. They also play the first leg of the South America Cup semi final in Santiago (Colo Colo) on…. Thursday night…. hmmmmm……..


At 09:54, Blogger Tricky said...

End of season

I, like everyone else, am very happy with the season as a whole. We made ground on all our descenso rivals, won our group and qualified for the Liguilla. What more could you ask?

The only thing I ask is that we don´t get carried away. We are not yet a good team let alone a great one. It is encouraging that we have proved to be a sound defensive unit and we have ground out results, but euphoria at the last game must be balanced by a view of some of the prior games. In San Luis a scrambled goal saw us win even though they could and should have scored a couple. Against America we were very ordinary.

I have been impressed by the way Tuca has built the team though, and that is definitely a positive. He has had faith in his defense when Espinosa and particularly Pikolin were making a bit of a mess of things. He has also stuck with Castro at contencion which has brought solidity to that area. And while we all are a little unhappy at Leandro being stuck out on the left, there have been signs that he is starting to feel more comfortable there and it may benefit the team in the long run, particularly if Morales stays out injured.

My player of the season on performances alone is Veron. The fact is we always expect good things of him and therefore tend to notice if he makes a mistake rather than has a good day. Both Pikolin and Velarde have come on tremendously, as has Castro in his new position (as contencion I can´t remember him being booked for a bad foul).

Best moment for me was RoRo´s save against San Luis and subsequent huge grin. It seems to show that we are slowly shrugging off the tension of the descenso and starting to play with less fear.

I am not really interested in trying to choose worst moments as mistakes made by players, but the worst moment as a fan was Blanco scoring against us for America.

In the playoffs it is likely we will get Pachuca who have been fairly free-scoring since Jaguares have had a poor run-in. I think however, despite the form guide, I would rather avoid Chivas given the history between the clubs and our poor record in the Jalisco. I am not expecting earth-shattering things but for once we can relax and enjoy ourselves!

At 13:53, Blogger DT said...

old misery guts....let us enjoy it, we finished 2nd..that is a great performance all round, although your summing up the overall level of this team is spot on...

...also spot on is your choice of Veron, I am sticking with Velarde, but am swayed by his born in CU credentials, but Veron was genuinely great this year.

...also spot on about RoRo's grin, normally keepers try and look cool, but he clearly loved making that save, so why not enjoy it! must have noticed I have wiped the events at the Azteca from my mind....

...Toluca lost 1-0 away at Jaguares, and Chivas beat Veracruz, Jaguares will find it hard away, so I am sticking with Tricky's thoughts about it being Pachuca....

Cheers, big fella

At 14:05, Blogger DT said...

Sorry, I also meant to mention that Richard is dead right, Castro did not receive a card at all this season.

At 17:01, Blogger DT said...

Quarter final:-
Pachuca v Pumas Friday 24th Nov 8pm
Pumas v Pachuca Sunday 26th Nov noon


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