For a trio of Americans, the successes of MLS are in the rearview mirror. The current focus lies strictly on trying to make an impact in Liga MX.
The first few weeks of the MLS offseason saw a handful of players move south of the border to Mexico, and now those new members of the Americans Abroad contingent will attempt to make their respective debuts for their new clubs.
Former Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil could be the first of the bunch, as he and Queretaro kick off the Clausura campaign on Friday night with a home game against Atlas. Gil will want to get off to a strong start with los gallos blancos, especially after finishing 2015 with one goal and a less-than-stellar campaign for an RSL side that missed the postseason.
U.S. Men’s National Team centerback Omar Gonzalez could be the next in line to suit up for his new squad. Pachuca visits Club Tijuana later on Friday night, and the match will pit Gonzalez against compatriots like Michael Orozco or Greg Garza if he sees the field. There are those on the outside who have questioned how Gonzalez will fare in Liga MX given that teams are more technical down there, but a strong first showing would help to start silencing the critics.
The other new Mexican-based export that could earn minutes is Jorge Villafana, the MLS Cup champion who like Gonzalez may be facing at least one fellow American. Villafana and Santos Laguna are set to battle Club Leon on Saturday, and the 26-year-old left back might be tasked with negating Miguel Ibarra on the wing. Villafana shut down a number of MLS’s top outside players in the Portland Timbers’ run to a title, and he will now aim to start a similar type of trend in his new league.
Here is who the Americans Abroad play this weekend:
Jonathan Bornstein, Luis Gil and Queretaro play Atlas.
Michael Orozco, Greg Garza, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Guido and Club Tijuana play Omar Gonzalez and Pachuca.
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa play Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup.
DeAndre Yedlin, Lynden Gooch and Sunderland play Arsenal in the FA Cup.
Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City play AFC Bournemouth in the FA Cup.
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City play Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup.
Tim Howard and Everton play Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Cup.
Danny Williams and Reading play Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup.
Cody Cropper and Milton Keynes Dons play Northampton Town in the FA Cup.
Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest play Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup.
Tim Ream, Emerson Hyndman and Fulham play Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.
Ventura Alvarado and Club America play Puebla.
Edgar Castillo and Monterrey play Pumas UNAM.
Miguel Ibarra, William Yarbrough and Club Leon play Jorge Villafana and Santos Laguna.
Gabriel Farfan and Jaguares de Chiapas play Joe Corona and Dorados de Sinaloa.
Gedion Zelalem and Rangers play Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup.
Alejandro Bedoya and FC Nantes play St Etienne.
Jose Torres and Tigres UANL play Toluca.
Which of these matches are you most looking forward to? Do you expect all of Gonzalez, Villafana, and Gil to see time for their new clubs this weekend? Which of them do you see having the best Clausura campaign?
Share your thoughts below.