Paraguay national team striker Jose Cardozo demonstrated why Toluca is one of the early favorites to win the Mexican league championship when he scored three second-half goals to beat Necaxa, 3-0, on the first weekend of play.
Cardozo, 31, has led the league in scoring twice and is Toluca’s career leader with 147 goals.
Mexico national team defender Claudio “El Emperador” Suarez, the world’s most-capped player with more than 160 international appearances, returned from a four-month injury layoff to help UNL defeat Chiapas, 3-1.
Suarez, 33, was injured while training with Mexico in Denver in April and sat out the World Cup.
Chiapas was one of two teams to relocate during the off-season. Veracruz moved to Tuxtla Gutierrez and became the Jaguares de Chiapas (Jaguars of Chiapas), and La Piedad flew the coop and set up in Queretaro, where it is now known as the Gallos Blancos (White Roosters).
The Roosters opened with a 1-1 tie against San Luis Potosi, one of two teams promoted to the 20-team first division.
Puebla, which during the off-season acquired Colombia national team midfielder Mauricio Serna from Boca Juniors in Argentina, Chile national team striker Sebastian Gonzalez from Colo Colo in Chile and former Galaxy and Mexico national team goalkeeper Jorge Campos, managed only a 1-1 tie with the Chivas (Goats) of Guadalajara in its opener.
Daniel Passarella, a 1978 World Cup winner and former Argentina national team coach, made his Mexican league coaching debut as Monterrey defeated Atlante, 2-0.
Cruz Azul, boosted by the return of Mexico World Cup striker Francisco Palencia from Espanyol in Spain, lost to UAG, 2-1. The Tiburones Rojos (Red Sharks) of Veracruz, making their debut in the first division, lost to Morelia, 4-3.
Australia 2014 Farce
One day after announcing that it wants to stage the World Cup in 2014, Australia was embarrassed Monday when Prime Minister John Howard told FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter that the announcement at Sydney had been nothing more than “a political stunt” by state politicians and refused to support the bid.
“It has all the hallmarks to me of a Sunday political stunt, rather than a serious attempt to help soccer,” Howard said.
Soccer Australia, the national federation, is troubled by debt and internal bickering, and the bungled World Cup bid has added to the impression of chaos.
And the Nominees Are ...
European champion Real Madrid of Spain could all but sweep the honors when UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, announces its award winners for the 2001-2002 season at Monaco on Aug. 29.
The list of nominees, with the players’ national and club teams:
Player of the Year: Zinedine Zidane (France and Real Madrid); Raul (Spain and Real Madrid) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands and Manchester United).
Goalkeeper of the Year: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy and Juventus), Jerzy Dudek (Czech Republic and Liverpool) and Oliver Kahn (Germany and Bayern Munich).
Defender of the Year: Cafu (Brazil and AS Roma), Sami Hyypia (Finland and Liverpool) and Roberto Carlos (Brazil and Real Madrid).
Midfielder of the Year: Michael Ballack (Germany and Bayer Leverkusen), Roy Keane (Ireland and Manchester United) and Patrick Viera (France and Arsenal).
Forward of the Year: Raul, David Trezeguet (France and Juventus) and Van Nistelrooy.
Coach of the Year: Vicente del Bosque (Real Madrid), Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) Klaus Toppmoller (Bayer Leverkusen).