Soccer  > General Soccer  > Monterrey title aided with heavenly help
December 9, 2010, 03:53 PM
Few doubt the merits of Monterrey's two Mexican league titles in the past year.

However it seems that for the past 13 months, "Los Rayados" have had what some believe is a guardian angel. It was November 16, 2009, when one of the team's greatest idols in recent history, Antonio De Nigris, passed away at 31 in Greece, where he was playing with Larissa.

Since his passing, his brother Aldo and the rest of the team have seemingly had a little extra help that combined with its roster, front office and coaching staff, has coalesced into Mexico's team to beat in recent seasons.

Monterrey's arrival in the Liguilla playoffs came with doubts that increased when it was nearly eliminated by Pachuca in the quarterfinals. A 3-3 aggregate draw was enough to get it through thanks to its better regular-season record.

The semifinals against Pumas saw the adoption of an uncharacteristic defensive style that produced a pair of shutouts and a 2-0 aggregate win.

However, Los Rayados reverted to its more familiar attacking mode in the finals. They lost the first leg at Santos Laguna on a late own-goal by Dulio Davino, but with its seeming divine intervention, staged a remarkable rally in its home leg.

From the opening whistle, Monterrey swarmed Santos' net, while central defenders Jos?? Mar??a Basanta and Davino left goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco with little to do.

Victor Manuel Vucetich re-affirmed his argument as Mexico's best coach - winning a fifth title and left many wondering what could have been in store for the Mexican national team had he not withdrawn his name for consideration earlier this year.

Vucetich was lauded for strategizing each Liguilla match separately, highlighting the versatility and variability of Monterrey while demonstrating his skill at identifying and exposing its opponents' vulnerabilities.

Against Santos, Vucetich was without midfielder and team captain Luis Ernesto P??rez, but the team was able to adjust to his absence.

Monterrey was able to stymie regular-season scoring leader Christian Benitez, holding him without a goal over both legs, and limited playoff scoring leader Darwin Quintero to one strike in the opening leg.

Monterrey can attribute its title to attackers Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Nigris. Having returned from Spain in 2009, Suazo scored three goals over the two legs of the finals with the help of partner De Nigris ,who last year vowed to emulate and even better the achievements of his brother Antonio.

By now winning two titles in a year with his brother's beloved team, Aldo's next goal is to play in Europe, where his brother established his own history.
 
December 13, 2010  12:22 PM ET

Sometimes you need a little heavenly help!

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