One of the big boys of Mexican soccer comes to Frisco tonight as UNAM Pumas, one of the Mexico City big three(Club America, Cruz Azul), brings the starters to PHP.
Pumas enjoyed a storybook 2011 Clausura season as the #2 seed entering the Mexican playoffs where they defeated Monterrey, Chivas Guadalajara and Morelia in the final to win their 7th league championship. So far in the 2011 Apertura, Pumas sit in 5th out of the 18 team league but just three points off of first place after their 4-1 demolition of Toluca last Sunday.
UNAM is a team that isn't really led by one star, but extremely solid players all over the field. The captain, and name everyone should know, is the ageless wonder, 38-year-old Paco Palencia. Palencia, who scored his first goal for Mexico more than 13 years ago, moved to Pumas in 2007 after a successful spell with Chivas USA and has become their captain. He doesn't have the wheels or shot that he once had, but what he's lost in speed he makes up for in guile and tenacity.
Pumas will be led at the back by Paraguayan central defender Dario Veron. Veron is a Pumas legend having won four championships in the eight years he has been at the club, a lifetime in the ever-changing world of Mexican soccer.
Pumas has played in a system with one forward up top and that is the Argentine Martin Bravo. Bravo, according to wiki, has 25 goals in 99 games for Pumas and was absolutely on fire against Toronto last week scoring a first-half hat trick while doing all the hard work getting an assist on the other goal in the 4-0 win. Look out for another young forward, David Izazola, who could start tonight as well.
While UNAM only gained one point from their first two matches, sending the kids out against FC Dallas and Tauro, we can learn a bit about them from the lineup they sent that destroyed Toronto FC 4-0 in Mexico City last week.
13 V. Patiño (GK) 4 D. Verón 2 E. Velarde 14 L. Fuentes 38 J. Ramírez 8 D. Cabrera 5 D. De Buen 18 C. Orrantía 17 J. Palencia 7 J. Cortes 10 M. Bravo
It should be fun tonight, as I mentioned in the news recap, unless you want to stand in line at the notoriously under-staffed FCD box office, I would get those $12 tickets in advance. There's a big spread on the front of Al Dia today with Brek Shea that basically says "Pumas is here and they've brought everyone."