EDINBURG — Liga MX soccer returned to H-E-B Park in Edinburg on Wednesday night when fan favorites Club Deportivo Guadalajara, known as Chivas, took on Club Santos Laguna in an exhibition match. The crowd in Edinburg was packed, energetic and into the action for all 90-plus minutes of a compelling 2-1 win for Santos.
Even with an announced capacity crowd, the game started on time and the seats were nearly full. When Liga MX last came to Edinburg, traffic caused a bottleneck at the stadium entrance and the game’s kickoff was delayed.
The futbol faithful were first brought to life around the 9-minute mark of the first half. First, a Chivas player made contact with the ball on a bicycle kick but couldn’t put the shot on net. Santos quickly followed with an attack of its own that ended when a player was tackled in the box with no call.
At the 11-minute mark, Guadalajara broke through after a volley from left to right inside the penalty box found the right foot of a running and jumping Oscar Macias. The hard volley brought the majority of the fans in red and white to their feet.
Early in the first half, the connection between Santos forwards Julio Furch and Jonathan Rodriguez was dangerous, nearly producing a goal on two occasions. The first attempt was sniffed out and intercepted by Chivas keeper Miguel Jimenez, while the second chance was mishit.
In the 20th minute, the Chivas offensive pressure earned a free kick that was taken by Macias. His attempt for a second goal of the night was direct and no issue for the keeper.
The strong play of Santos’s Rodriguez continued as he sent a shot wide of the net 23:02 into the match.
Tempers flared at the 28-minute mark. The players in the center of the field gathered to argue over a hard tackle that resulted in a Chivas yellow card.
Chivas goalie Jimenez was tested in the first half but did not yield a goal. The red and white didn’t concede until a goaltending switch was made to Antonio Rodriguez in the second half.
Santos scored a goal one minute after play resumed in the second period. Twenty-year-old Colombian national Edwuin Cetré took over the game with two conversions in an 18-minute stretch.
Cetré’s second goal came on a counterattacking run into the teeth of the Chivas defense. The 62nd-minute goal was enough to keep Santos ahead for good, even with a late push by Guadalajara.
The game took on a chippy nature as both teams piled up infractions and yellow cards. The physicality resulted in some bruises but no serious injuries or ejections.
Guadalajara nearly found an equalizer in the 89th minute, but the linesman’s flag was up to negate the chance that ended up in the net. In the five minutes of stoppage time, Chivas only mustered one shot on a goal and a corner, but nothing to challenge the Santos lead.
Chivas fans didn’t get a chance to see Alan Pulido, the forward who plays for the Mexican national team.