Liga MX team-by-team preview: Will Club America repeat?

Who will win the 2024 Liga MX Clausura title? (2:38)

Herculez Gomez & Sebastian Salazar pick their 2024 Liga MX Clausura title winners. (2:38)

Get ready for Liga MX's 2024 Clausura season! Can title-holders Club America secure back-to-back trophies and extend their record number of championships to 15? Will modern powerhouses Monterrey and Tigres spoil the party and steal the spotlight away from the traditional giants of Liga MX? Off the field, what upcoming changes in 2024 are expected to not only alter Mexico's top flight of men's soccer, but also the second division as well?

Looking ahead to the regular season, here are predictions, storylines to follow and team-by-team analysis for the 2024 Clausura season that kicks off on Jan. 12.

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Title favorites: Club America

Monterrey and Tigres -- two crosstown rivals from northern Mexico that have been disrupting the usual order of Liga MX -- are worthy of shouts for this season's title, but the obvious and clear answer is Club America.

Boasting both the best attacking and defensive numbers in the Apertura, and sealing a well-deserved trophy after the playoffs, the leaders of the regular season immediately thrived under the leadership of coach Andre Jardine in his first tournament with the team.

No matter their long list of injuries or rocky start to the Apertura, Club America eventually morphed into the most consistent and efficient side in Liga MX. With essentially the same roster, outside of slight changes in full-back positions, there's no reason why Jardine & Co. shouldn't be able to maintain their momentum from 2023. If they can avoid the same injury problems they had last season, they could be even stronger in 2024.


Potential letdown: Chivas

Things feel completely up in the air with Club America's historic rivals, Chivas. Under new leadership with former Boca Juniors and Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago as their head coach, it's difficult to feel entirely confident about a young manager that still has much to prove on the sidelines.

Looking at his roster, a potential return for club legend and Mexico's all-time leading goal scorer Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez could do plenty to revive the fanbase, but questions would remain for the 35-year-old striker, who is recovering from a lengthy ACL injury suffered last summer.

As for the rest of the team that slumped out of the quarterfinal stage of last season's playoffs, there are serious worries about the frontline that didn't do enough in the final third. Without the addition of a couple more faces in midfield and attack who could help Hernandez, or support another signing like youthful USMNT winger Cade Cowell, Chivas could miss out on the playoffs altogether.


MVP favorite: César Huerta, Pumas

If Huerta extends his 2023 form into 2024, this season could be his last before a move to Europe. The 23-year-old winger has been incredibly entertaining to watch in recent months and, whether on the flanks or in a more central role, he impressed in the Apertura with aggressive runs up the field while tracking back to win the ball again. The winger has collected nine goals and two assists in Liga MX since August, as well as a goal and assist in his first three games with Mexico's senior team. Huerta has a high ceiling, and it seems as though it's only a matter of time before a European side takes a chance on signing one of the most promising young Mexican players around.


Young player to watch: Marcelo Flores, Tigres

Arriving to much fanfare in September from Arsenal's academy, the Canadian-born Mexico international needed time to adjust before picking up more minutes and appearances and, most importantly, his first goal in late 2023. Although there's no lack of talent within Tigres' roster, a full preseason under his belt could be enough for the 20-year-old to start gaining a prominent role in 2024. Agile and excellent with the ball at his feet, the winger has already shown that he has the ability to complicate things for any defender in Liga MX. Knowing full well that the Copa America is around the corner, a strong Clausura showing could significantly help his chances of earning a spot in Mexico's roster.

Storylines to follow: VAR changes, "new model" for league on the horizon, additional tournaments

VAR will have a new look, with efforts underway to centralize decision-making in Toluca (as opposed to an officiating crew situated just outside or within stadiums), as well as through audio from VAR calls that will be published after every week. As for the referee's commission, the group will now be autonomous and no longer under the umbrella of the Mexican Football Federation (FMF). The recent measures are part of a "new model" that was hyped up after December's semi-annual meetup between Liga MX officials and club owners.

Elsewhere, vague promises were also made regarding support for women's soccer, the sport at the grassroots level and for soon-to-be revealed changes to the league structure.

While fans have been eager for the return of promotion and relegation, which has been put on pause for the top flight since 2020, nothing indicates that it'll return just yet for lower league sides that want to enter Liga MX. Instead, a reformatting of the second division is set to kick off this summer after initially being planned for January. In an interview with ESPN, Liga MX president Mikel Arriola stated that the 15-team second division will soon expand to 33 with the inclusion of Liga MX's U23 reserve sides. According to Arriola, this could help strengthen second division clubs -- on and off the field -- that are seeking eligibility for promotion.

At the moment, only one club (Atlante) are eligible for promotion and at least four second division clubs need to be approved for promotion to return.

How Liga MX teams fare in the Concacaf Champions Cup and Leagues Cup will also be a major talking point, especially with a growing notion that MLS clubs are beginning to catch up to the North American scene and Lionel Messi now playing for Inter Miami.

Team-by-team preview (in alphabetical order)



2023 Apertura regular season: 17th place, 4W-5D-8L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Didn't qualify

Out went Benjamin Mora as manager and in stepped Spanish coach Beñat San Jose, who was given the role in November. With a less-than-exciting 28% win record in San Jose's only previous Liga MX gig at Mazatlan, and no major changes for a roster that finished 17th least season, the Clausura might not be much different for Atlas.



2023 Apertura regular season: 7th place, 7W-2D-8L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Semifinalists

Midfielder Dieter Villalpando will be a big miss after his transfer to FC Juarez, but a strong core of players remains for the motivated mid-tier side that exceeded expectations last season with a semifinal finish. If manager Gustavo Leal can tighten up his defense and get the most out of new signings like forward Franck Boli, Atletico San Luis could once again return as dark horses.



2023 Apertura regular season: 5th place, 8W-3D-6L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Quarterfinalists

With or without the aging Chicharito or the developing Cowell, Gago has much to do to rejuvenate an attack that scored only 22 times in 17 regular-season matches in the Apertura. Take the result against a second division team with a grain of salt, but a recent 7-1 preseason win over Celaya in early January could be a sign of good things to come for Mexico's second-most successful club.



2023 Apertura regular season: 1st place, 12W-4D-1L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Champions

They're the clear title favorites, but if there's one thing that could stop them, it might be not playing at their usual home. With renovations underway at the historic Estadio Azteca for the 2026 World Cup, Club America, along with crosstown rivals Cruz Azul and second division Atlante, will share the Ciudad de los Deportes stadium for the foreseeable future.



2023 Apertura regular season: 16th place, 5W-2D-10L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Didn't qualify

Following a shakeup within the roster and front office, Cruz Azul will seek to reawaken themselves under the guidance of new manager Martin Anselmi. No longer at the Estadio Azteca, 1990's nostalgia fans will embrace the idea of Cruz Azul returning to the Ciudad de los Deportes stadium, which was once their home formerly known as Estadio Azul.



2023 Apertura regular season: 15th place, 5W-3D-9L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Didn't qualify

Despite not earning a spot in last season's playoffs, that didn't stop Juarez from making another low-key move with the addition of Diéter Villalpando this winter. If a reported move for Costa Rican defender Francisco Calvo is also confirmed, that could be the difference between a porous backline and a strong central spine.



2023 Apertura regular season: 8th place, 6W-5D-6L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Quarterfinalists

An uninspired finish in the playoffs and an immediate exit from the Club World Cup led to the team parting ways with manager Nicolas Larcamon. In his place, former goalkeeper Jorge Bava has arrived. The first act of business for the recent Liverpool Montevideo coach? Signing two Liverpool Montevideo players: Alan Medina and Gonzalo Napoli.



2023 Apertura regular season: 10th place, 6W-4D-7L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Play-in round

Last after the 2023 Clausura season, Mazatlan made commendable improvements and qualified for the play-in round of the latest Apertura playoffs. A decent run ahead of those playoffs could be a boost in confidence for manager Ismael Rescalvo in 2024. Keep an eye on a budding talent like midfielder Andres Montaño as well, who could be a breakout player.



2023 Apertura regular season: 2nd place, 10W-3D-4L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Quarterfinalists

After yet another disappointing playoff exit, big spenders Monterrey put their hand in their pocket again with a reported $7.5m deal for USMNT striker Brandon Vázquez from FC Cincinnati. Reliable in defense but lacking in the final third, the move could be exactly what Monterrey need as they've officially said goodbye to all-time top goal scorer Rogelio Funes Mori.



2023 Apertura regular season: 18th place, 3W-6D-8L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Didn't qualify

Necaxa went through a forgettable 2023, finishing second-to-last in the Clausura and last in the Apertura. With new manager Eduardo Fentanes now finishing a full winter preseason after stepping in during September, the 46-year-old will be tasked with leading the rebuild of a team that scored just 18 times in 17 games last season.



2023 Apertura regular season: 11th place, 5W-7D-5L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Didn't qualify

Is time running out for 2022 Apertura champion Guillermo Almada? Despite his title, two average seasons in 2023 could spell the end for a coach who has been given more time than usual in a league that is rarely patient with managers. That said, the signing of veteran Venezuela striker Salomon Rondon could be the missing piece of the puzzle.



2023 Apertura regular season: 6th place, 7W-4D-6L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Quarterfinalists

For a budget-conscious team like Puebla, there should be little complaints about what manager Ricardo Carbajal was able to accomplish after being hired mid-season in late August. Things could be challenging without star goal scorer Guillermo Martínez, who left for Pumas, but Carbajal could piece things together with the help of Santiago Ormeño and Lucas Cavallini.



2023 Apertura regular season: 4th place, 8W-4D-5L 2023
Apertura playoffs: Semifinalists

After manager Antonio Mohamed left over the winter for a mental break, long-time assistant Gustavo Lema was brought in as the new head coach for 2024. With Huerta able to create havoc on the wings, and the inclusion of Martinez and Funes Mori up top, Pumas could continue their brand of attacking and attractive soccer as they seek to once again push on as surprise title candidates.



2023 Apertura regular season: 14th place, 5W-4D-8L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Didn't qualify

Showing signs of life in early 2023, Queretaro quickly fell apart after not offering much in either defense or attack in the Apertura. Even if they can land a rumored move for U.S.-born Guatemala international forward Rubio Rubín, that may not change much for their playoff hopes.



2023 Apertura regular season: 9th place, 7W-2D-8L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Play-in round

The transfer of No. 10 Juan Brunetta to Tigres will be a tough one to get over, but the reality is that their defense needed more work than their attack, which still has Harold Preciado. Time will tell if backline acquisitions like Vladimir Loroña and Santiago Nuñez can flip the script for a side that haven't made many waves in the last couple of seasons.



2023 Apertura regular season: 3rd place, 8W-6D-3L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Finalists

Falling just short of a title last season, Tigres increased their chances of a championship even further with the winter signing of Brunetta for their already stacked attack. There are a few weaknesses in their star-studded roster and, notably, they still have living legend and prominent goal scorer André-Pierre Gignac as their leading man up top.



2023 Apertura regular season: 13th place, 6W-2D-9L
2023 Apertura playoffs: Didn't qualify

Goal scorer Carlos Gonzalez was a source of salvation for Tijuana, but also someone who helped cover over the cracks for a team that lacked real consistency under manager Miguel "Piojo" Herrera. Given a poor start to the Clausura, the former head coach of Mexico might not last much longer with the bordertown team.



2023 Apertura regular season: 12th place, 5W-6D-6L 2023
Apertura playoffs: Didn't qualify

Like Cruz Azul, there has been a shakeup in the front office that led to different leadership, which includes Portuguese head coach Renato Paiva, who once coached Leon back in 2022. Defensively sound but needing work going forward in the attack, Toluca will need to take Paiva's improvements on board.