It’s a serious project. It’s going to be interesting to see where this goes. Things are different. They have world-class backing. This new incarnation of the team is completely different from any other that came before it. These are all statements that football pundits made when asked their opinions of recently promoted Atlético de San Luis.
For those who are aware of how this important city on the Mexican football calendar lost their team those comments are music to their ears. In the past, there have been some bright spots, such as making the 2006 finals versus Pachuca, which they would end up losing 1-0 thanks to a dubious penalty. But for most Potosinos who hold this team so closely to their heart, it has been a history filled with disappointment and apathy.
This city, so enamored with their team, fell out of love in a big way. Years of unclear ownership direction, poor performances on the pitch, and constant relegation battles came to a head on the evening of March 9, 2013. San Luis, sitting near the bottom of the table, hosted league leaders Tigres. What happened that night was legendary and is still spoken about today: “The Invasion”.
Tigres was the team on the rise leading up to this “Invasion” in 2013. Having won another league after almost 30 years in 2011, Tigres was the team making headlines as one of the up and coming teams to beat in Liga MX. One of the most exceptional things about the club is its fans. Los “Incomparables,” are one of the most loyal fans week in and week out. Every weekend you can find their home stadium sold out. This had a different feel to it.
Their fans prepared one of the most impressive things that we have seen in the soccer world and had not been done since 1996. They were not a popular team, yet fans traveled with their club to support them and lead them on to victory. That night, 23,000 plus fans filled the seats of the well-known, Alfonso Lastras stadium. The club was beginning to rise to fame with the likes of star players, Lucas Lobos, Damian Alvarez, & Carlos Salcido.
A regrettable but all too frequent thing occurs in Mexican football: the phenomenon of franchises moving to other cities. Just two months after the Tigres invasion, in May of 2013, Mexican football musical chairs struck again. This time San Luis, Veracruz, La Piedad, Chiapas, and Querétaro all were involved. Consequently, San Luis were the big losers, ending up without any football whatsoever.
ENTER ATLÉTICO DE MADRID
Fast forward to 2017. San Luis had been without any football for the better part of two years. Rumors started to circulate that a global football powerhouse from Spain wanted to invest in the team, the league, but more than that, the people of this beautiful colonial city. There was a sense of disbelief, albeit with good reason, considering the painful history of the team.
A team was hastily put together to compete in the Ascenso Clausura 2017-18, thanks to the financial backing of the European powerhouse. The goal was to win promotion to LigaMX within three seasons; they did it in two.
Aside from their on-field success, the Madrileños have been active in many aspects of the sport. They support the youth setup in the state of San Luis, revamped both the stadium and the training facilities, hosted a Mexican national team game, and most recently a glamour friendly between both clubs. Now the goal is to solidify their place in the first tier of Mexican football. And what better way to make a statement than by going toe to toe with the titans from Monterrey. This time, though, without the invasion.
Tigres now can claim themselves as the team to beat year in and year out. With the presence of their star, Andre-Pierre Gignac and company, the club competes for the league title every six months. The club has made great strides in asserting themselves as the team of this decade, winning four league titles in the last four years.
The club has become a powerhouse having 13 players on the roster having become regular national team players. Although they tend to start slow to begin their season, you can count on them to be a well-oiled machine in the playoffs. They will be keen to remind Atlético exactly why they are the reigning champions.
Tigres looks to continue its winning ways with several key players being available for Tuca to select a strong XI.
Predicted Lineup: Nahuel, Chaka Rodriguez, Hugo Ayala, Salcedo, Jair Diaz; Quinones, Pizarro, Carioca; Valencia, Vargas, Gignac.
San Luis fans will be hoping Alonso Sosa starts all of their new signings for this key matchup.
Predicted Lineup: Rodriguez, Catalan, Laso, Alvarez, de Luna, Centurion, Mayada, Valdez, Maya, Ibañez, Ian Gonzalez.