2023-24 Liga MX guide: Who’s hot and who’s not in Mexican fútbol

2023-24 Liga MX guide: Who’s hot and who’s not in Mexican fútbol

Mexico has earned the hosting rights for the FIFA World Cup three times (1970, 1986, 2026), while the Liga MX keeps Mexican fans of pro fútbol entertained year in and year out. The 2023-24 Liga MX season has already provided some great highlights around the 18-team circuit — and it’s raised even more questions, with two league championships still up for grabs. So it’s time to dive into our Liga MX guide.

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Liga MX Questions

Who is vying to lead Liga MX in goals? Which clubs are excelling or struggling in the Apertura (opening) tournament? Which clubs are laying the groundwork for success in the Clausura (closing) tournament that kicks off in January 2024? In the big picture, which North American league is faring better in the classic “Liga MX vs. MLS” debate? The list of questions goes on.

Let’s take a closer look in this Liga MX update, going club by club in alphabetical order.

Liga MX Teams


Guadalajara’s Liga MX club has struggled to win matches this season. It’s caused consternation among fans after the euphoria of winning both the Apertura 2021 and Clausura 2022 titles. The Zorros offense hasn’t been the same since losing all-star forward Julián Quiñones to Club America. Seeing winger Ozziel Herrera, who’s just 22, take his talents to Tigres UANL also stings. Still, the defense has been strong, with goalkeeper Camilo Vargas earning numerous clean sheets.

Manager Benjamin Mora’s previous biggest professional success was guiding Johor Darul Ta’zim to the 2021 Malaysian Super League crown. After taking over from Diego Cocca with Atlas, he’s facing a whole new level of heat in Mexico.

Atletico de San Luis

Pundits who pooh-poohed Atlético de San Luis’s chances are being forced to eat their words. Promoted from Mexico’s second division in 2019, the Tuneros are bidding for first place this year.

Having veteran center-back Unai Bilbao lead a potent offense with four goals in his first nine Apertura matches is a pleasant surprise. But defense-wise, it’s worth wondering whether manager Gustavo Leal’s troops will be able to sustain their early pace. Still, fans have to be happy. This ostensibly rebuilding club has already secured more wins than it did en route to a wildcard berth last year.

Club America

You could argue that Club América is Mexico’s answer to Manchester United. It’s the winningest domestic league club of all time. And Las Águilas are once again in the hunt, seeking their record 14th Liga MX title.

Powered by the goal-scoring prowess of midfielders like Chile’s Diego Valdés and Argentina’s Brian Rodriguez, Club América earned a 4-0 statement win over archrival Guadalajara in an El Súper Clásico showdown on September 16. Azteca Stadium went wild as Chivas Nation fell into despair. If Henry Martin – the Clausura 2023 Men’s Player of the Year – can stay healthy and regain last year’s form, the sky is the limit.

Cruz Azul

The most-remembered Cruz Azul moment of 2023 will not be from Liga MX action, but from their 2-1 Leagues Cup-opening loss to Inter Miami. It was on July 21 that Lionel Messi – Argentina’s 2022 World Cup hero and a seven-time winner of the Ballon D’Or – made his debut with the MLS club. Messi scored the deciding goal on a spectacular free kick in stoppage time.

Currently hovering near the bottom of the Liga MX table, Cruz Azul is fortunate that the league has suspended its traditional promotion and relegation system through 2026. Never mind that Colombian import Didier Cambindho has enjoyed a strong start, notching a club-leading four goals in his first nine matches. Surrendering an average of close to two goals per game is never a recipe for success.

FC Juarez

Founded in 2015 and promoted to Liga MX in 2019, this Ciudad Juárez-based club is proving competitive in Apertura action. A 2-1 upset over Club América to kick off their campaign on June 30 set the tone. Based on how his cohesive squad has produced – apart from dropping a 7-1 stinker to LAFC in Leagues Cup play – manager Diego Mejia definitely has reason to celebrate his 40th birthday with pleasure on October 12.

“All of the players on the squad are here because they really want to be here,” Mejia recently told reporters. “It didn’t take long to convince them. They liked the project a lot and the direction of the team’s new sporting model. I’m very happy to be leading this and to represent Juarez, which has suffered for many years with bad results.”


Fans of Mexico’s most popular team have fond memories to fall back on. After all, Chivas won a record seven Campeón de Campeónes titles between 1957 and 1970. And club icon Omar Bravo racked up an all-time Guadalajara high of 132 goals by 2017.

However, so far this year, results have been decidedly inconsistent for Chivas, which faded after earning a four-win streak to open the Apertura. Nothing screams automatic success in the Liguilla playoffs. Star attacker Alexis Vega has self-admittedly struggled with his approach toward diet and conditioning, which led to knee problems. Serbian manager Veljko Paunovic speaks six languages, but the only thing he wants to talk about right now is getting more wins.


León won the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League back in May – defeating LAFC 3-1 on aggregate – and hoped to parlay that momentum into Liga MX success this year. But injuries have hurt manager Nicolas Larcamon’s troops so far, sidelining the likes of wingers Omar Fernandez and Ivan Moreno. Apart from a 4-0 thumping of traditional rival Pachuca on July 10, highlights have been sparse for León fans.

The lack of offense puts pressure on Ecuadorian veteran Angel Mena, who ranks top-10 in all-time club scoring with more than 70 goals since joining León in 2019. But the 35-year-old can’t do it alone. It will be a challenge to salvage something positive from this season.

Mazatlán FC

Mazatlán got its Liga MX club in 2020 when Monarcas Morelia relocated to Sinaloa’s second-biggest city. However, since then, Mazatlán has never recorded a top-10 Liga MX finish in either Apertura or Clausura. In fact, the club placed 18th and last in the 2023 Clausura. It appears the futility will likely continue this fall.

Veteran goalkeeper Hugo Gonzalez, 33, has brought a little steadiness after Mazatlán conceded a league-worst 41 goals in the 2023 Clausura. But the odds of booking a beach vacation in this Pacific coast city remain better than the odds of booking playoff tickets.


Four out of Monterrey’s five national titles came during the 21st century (1986, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2019). The question is whether new Rayados manager Fernando Ortiz (ex-Club America) has what it takes to lead this club back to the top.

Northern Mexico’s oldest active pro fútbol team has struggled with consistency since falling 3-0 to MLS’s Philadelphia Union in the Leagues Cup third-place game on August 19. Spanish veteran Sergio Canales – the ex-captain of Real Betis – became a flashpoint for criticism in September. Acquired for a transfer fee of close to €10 million, he’s struggled to score except on penalties. Monterrey’s trademark offensive flair must return if Liguilla success is to materialize.


Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023, Nexaca would love to revive the winning vibe that brought three Mexican first-division titles to Aguascalientes in the ’90s (1995, 1996, 1998). However, the current Apertura campaign under manager Eduardo Fentanes has been frankly disappointing, with Los Electricistas hovering near the bottom of the table.

Fentanes got a little satisfaction when Necaxa surprised everyone with a 5-2 walloping of Santos Laguna for its first win of the season on September 24. (The former assistant to Sven-Goran Eriksson during the latter’s 2008-09 coaching stint with the Mexican national team was fired by Santos at the end of last season.) But Fentanes’ job may be in jeopardy again if he can’t inspire the likes of Uruguayan forward Facundo Batista to score even more and help Necaxa eke out a playoff berth.


The Pachuca faithful went wild when their storied club hammered Toluca 8-2 on aggregate to capture the Apertura 2022 crown last October. But Los Tuzos haven’t been able to author a great sequel to that achievement.

The loss of Argentinian striker Nicolás Ibáñez, who transferred to Tigres UANL after leading Apertura 2022 with 11 goals, was a significant setback. Crushing losses to rivals like León (4-0, July 10) and Toluca (5-0, September 3) are symptomatic of a larger malaise for Guillermo Almada’s group. Ironically, in a reflection of how quickly fortunes can turn in this sport, Almada was named the Liga MX Manager of the Year in 2022-23. Those were happier days.


With Liga MX’s least threatening offence, Puebla has provided little joy for its fans at Estadio Cuauhtémoc this year. And when La Franja travelled to Minnesota and lost 4-0 in Leagues Cup action in July, Minnesota United FC Bongokuhle Hlongwane sparked some controversy by claiming this result showed that “MLS is on another level from Liga MX.”

Whether you agree or disagree with that statement, it’s undeniable that the Camoteros have fallen short of expectations after making the Clausura 2023 playoffs as the number 10 seed overall. After manager Eduardo Arce was fired on August 24 and replaced with Ricardo Carbajal, Puebla remains in search of


In the last Apertura, Querétaro finished dead last out of 18 teams. So a mid-table showing thus far is heartening for fans at Corregedora Stadium. It’s certainly an improvement from 2022, when Querétaro was ordered to play with no fans in the stands for a year due to a violent riot at their pitch.

Getting some goals out of Chilean national team winger Joaquin Montecinos (on loan from Tijuana) would help make this early success more sustainable. There’s no one on manager Mauro Gerk’s roster to rival the fame of Ronaldinho, the Brazilian great who starred for Querétaro in 2014-15.

Santos Laguna

They say defense wins championships. If that’s your metric, Santos Laguna isn’t destined for its seventh Liga MX title this year. The northern Mexico club is vying for the dubious distinction of allowing the league’s most goals to date.

That laxness undermines the achievements of Colombian forward Harold Preciado. The 29-year-old is enjoying another excellent season, leading Liga MX with seven goals at the halfway mark of Apertura. At the same point, Argentinian midfielder Juan Brunetta had made waves of his own with four goals and five assists.

Tigres UANL

Andre-Pierre Gignac joined Tigres UANL back in 2015, and the 37-year-old Frenchman remains a potent force as the club’s all-time leading scorer. Grignac, 37, was one of four Tigres who scored in the shootout on September 27 as the Liga MX powerhouse defeated LAFC 4-2 on penalties, becoming the first club in history to win back-to-back Campeones Cup titles. Four other players have at least two goals apiece, contributing to a balanced attack.

Guided by manager Roberto Boldi, who helped them to the 2023 Clausura title after assuming the reins in April, UANL has shown plenty of bite in the current Liga MX campaign. Staying even-keel and focused will be the key down the stretch.


After failing to crack the Clausura 2023 playoffs, Tijuana made roster changes aplenty. Previously with Toluca, veteran Paraguayan forward Carlos Gonzalez has come in hot. The 30-year-old is vying for the league lead in goals, but needs more offensive support from his teammates.

Xolos won their lone Liga MX title more than a decade ago (Apertura 2012). A mid-table regular-season finish seems most likely this season – unless their goal-scoring continues to sag.


Founded in 1917, this club’s achievements include three prior Apertura championships (2002, 2005, 2008). Last year, under manager Ignacio “Nacho” Ambríz, who captained Mexico at the 1994 World Cup, Diabolos Rojos managed to go unbeaten in seven consecutive matches between July 23 and August 17.

This year, Toluca exploded for four goals per game in three straight Leagues Cup wins against MLS opposition before falling 4-2 on penalties to Minnesota in the round of 16. Results in Liga MX play have been of mixed quality, and a deep playoff run may not be in the cards.


Missing the Clausura 2023 playoffs with a 14th-place finish was disheartening for UNAM supporters. And the arrest and detainment of aging Brazilian star Dani Alves on assault charges in January could have cast a cloud over the entire year.

But Pumas have still found a way to deliver moments of delight at Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Apertura 2023. Case in point: a 3-2 comeback victory over Atlético de San Luis on September 17, courtesy of Gabriel Fernandez’s great header in extra time. The experience of Argentinian defender Lisandro Magallan, who just turned 30, could prove crucial down the stretch.

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