In the Box: InterLiga


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So finally it's "game on" this Wednesday at Reliant.

Tigres from Monterrey will kick it off against Toluca while the night-cap will feature Mexico's most storied team Chivas taking on Jaguares.

Club America fans are no doubt heartbroken having seen their team fall short of qualifying after posting a record of 1-1-1 in preliminary play, defeating Jaguares 2-1, losing to Toluca 2-1, and drawing Necaxa 2-2 in their final group game.

Despite Club America not being here this will be an InterLiga to be remembered.

First let's look for a few things of interest around the Tigres and Toluca opener on Wednesday night.

Tigres has one of the legends of soccer in defense with 36-year-old former Mexican National team captain Claudio Suarez who has the record amount of appearances internationally with 170.

No other male player has played as many games for his country.

Tigres head coach Leo Alvarez has a number of great attacking options including Javier Saavedra and Brazilian Irenio Soares who both have three goals to lead the tournament. Throw in another foreigner Andres Silvera of Argentina and you have firepower.

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It will be interesting to see how the Toluca defense led by 35-year-old goalkeeper Hernan Cristante, himself an Argentine, can contend with these attack-minded players.

Cristante for young goalkeepers is interesting to watch in the latter stages of his career, depending on positioning and communication to remain one of the best in Mexico.

Speaking of attack Toluca is spearheaded by Paraguayan International Jose Cardozo whom many call the greatest foreigner in the history of the Mexican League.

Cardozo has led the "Red Devils" to titles, has participated in World Cups for Paraguay and is a study in positional play.

For Tigres and the wily veteran Claudio Suarez this will not be about how to stop him but how to contain him.

Cardozo is ably supported by big names like Vicente Sanchez of Uruguay and Jose Manuel Abundis who has represented Mexico.

The second game of the double header is intriguing in that Chivas has one of the most storied histories in the game while counterparts Jaguares of Chiapas is the new kid on the block having only been formed in 2002.

Just listen to Chivas striker Francisco "Paco" Palencia.

"Chivas is the most important team in Mexico. It is the biggest."

Palencia is one of a trio of dangerous hit men that includes Adolfo Bautista and Omar Bravo. All three have represented Mexico Internationally.

What is unique about Chivas is that they were formed in 1906 and use only Mexican players creating a base of support that goes throughout all of Mexico.

No doubt Chivas fans will be out in force on Wednesday so don't be shocked if you find yourself in a sea of red and white at Reliant Stadium.

Don't be surprised when you don't see Chivas and Mexican National team goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez in goal Wednesday.

He was sent back to Mexico after injuring his shoulder in the preliminary rounds.

Twenty-three-year-old Alfredo Talavera will get the nod in his absence for Chivas coach Benjamin Galindo.

Jaguares from Chiapas has burst on to the Mexican soccer league scene making believers out of their opponents during their short existence.

Coach Jose Luis Trejo has built a collective side around a prime goal scorer in Salvador Cabanas from Paraguay who last year scored nearly a goal a game in Mexican League play tallying 15 times.

Goalkeeper Omar Ortiz ranked statistically number two during the Mexican League season and relies on veteran defender Sergio Almaguer.

I have only picked out a few players to focus on but believe me there are many more that could have been mentioned.

Who knows we may witness on Wednesday an Interliga team that goes on to win a first-ever Copa Libertadores.

See you there!

Davis is a nationally recognized broadcaster for HDNET where he partners up with former U.S. National Team defender Marcelo Balboa. He was one of the lead voices for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup and has called major international soccer matches for the Fox Network as well.  He is a weekly columnist for the Houston Chronicle and hosts the "Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis" radio show on 90.1KPFT FM Radio every Sunday from 5-6 pm.  Davis played soccer professionally for the Houston Dynamos where he was a league all star selection and team captain.

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