top of page

Club Necaxa: Charlotte FC's first ever Liga MX opponent

By Sam Vanolinda

Club Necaxa (Photo courtesy of Necaxa)


Charlotte FC will face Liga MX side Club Necaxa in their second and final group-stage match of the newly enkindled Leagues Cup, a World Cup-style tournament in which Liga MX and MLS teams compete to prove who is the best club in North America. In addition to the pride of winning the tournament, the winner will be awarded a spot in the Concacaf Champions Cup round of 16.


With Necaxa’s 0-3 loss to FC Dallas on Tuesday night, Charlotte will advance to the round of 32 with a win on Saturday, in which they would face Cruz Azul or Atlanta United. With a draw in regulation and a penalty loss, they would advance and face Mazatlán in the round of 32, and a loss would eliminate Charlotte from the competition.


Some Charlotte fans may be less familiar with this opponent than the usual MLS matchup, so we did some digging into the history and current standing of this almost century-old club.


History


Necaxa is located in Aguascalientes, a history-rich city in central Mexico known for its Spanish colonial buildings in its city center. The club was formed on August 21, 1923, by William H. Fraser, a Scottish engineer, and owner of the Light and Power Company (Compañía de Luz y Fuerza) in Puebla.


Fraser was a big soccer fan being raised in the U.K and combined the workers of both the Light and Power Company and the street car operators in the city to create a team. The Mexican Football Federation did not allow teams to be named directly after a company, so the team was named Necaxa after the river which was close to the electrical plant that they worked at.


The team, nicknamed the “Electricistas,” and “Los Rayos,” has a plethora of impressive trophies in their almost 100 years of existence. They are two-time Concacaf Champions Cup winners, in ‘98/99 and ‘74/75, two-time Mexican Champions in ‘95/96 and ‘94/95, one-time Apertura Mexican Champions in ‘98/99, three-time Mexican Cup winners in ‘59/60, ‘65/66, and ‘94/95, one-time Mexican Super Cup winners in 2018, and one-time Mexican Clausura Winners in 2017/18.


The peak of the club's success was in the 90s, with its Concacaf Champions Cup win in 1999 the team qualified for the Club World Cup in 2000, in which they faced off against Machester United in the group stage. They managed to tie The Red Devils 1-1, beat South Melbourne (Australian Champions), and were defeated by Vaso De Gama from Brazil.


They finished second in their group, qualifying for the third-place game in the tournament, in which they defeated Los Blancos themselves, Real Madrid in a penalty shootout. The star-studded Real Madrid team they defeated included footballing royalty Raúl, Iker Casillas, Roberto Carlos, Samuel Eto’o, and Fernando Hierro, to name a few.


The club's record goalscorer is Victor Lojero, who scored 87 goals in 154 appearances in the 2000s, the journeyman forward has played for many teams in Liga MX throughout his 20-year career with 417 total appearances. Mexican legend Luis Hernández played 52 games for Los Rayos, with 19 goals and 11 assists at the beginning of his career.


Necaxa currently plays at Estadio Victoria Aguascalientes, which opened in 2003. The stadium seats 25,500 fans. The team has some ties to the United States, with 50% of the team belonging to an ownership group called NX Football USA since 2021.


Current standing


Necaxa plays in Liga MX, for those who don't know, it is organized differently than most leagues in the world. The league is split into two tournaments throughout the season, the Apertura, or opening, and the Clausura, or closing. Apertura runs from July to December and Clausura runs from January to May. Both tournaments are in the same format, with the 18 teams playing each team once.


At the end of each tournament, they have a play-off to decide the champion. The top four teams automatically qualify for the quarter-finals and the other four places are decided by a mini-tournament including 5-12 in the table. Liga MX crowns a champion twice, for Apertura and Clausura, and then those two teams face off at the end to be crowned champion of champions.


Necaxa has struggled in recent years. Last year they finished 17th in the Clausura with just three wins in 18 games. The team struggles to create goals, with just 16 in 18 games last year. A lack of exciting and creative talent going forward seems to be the problem for this club. Venezuelan coach Rafael Dudamel was brought in this May to try and change the team's fate, but through three games in the Apertura, the team has two draws and a loss, scoring just one goal.


Necaxa’s best and most exciting player is 22-year-old Mexican center-back Alán Montes, who conveniently was sent off in the prior game against FC Dallas after a dangerous slide tackle against a player who was through on goal. The 6’ 2” defender has Los Rayos's lone goal this season, he is a set-piece threat and a leader for the team, and Charlotte should look to take advantage of his absence.


Against Dallas, Necaxa set up in their 5-4-1 formation which they have been using all season as shown below:

Necaxa's lineup (Graphic found at MLSsoccer.com)


This should be a similar side for the game on Saturday against Charlotte, except they will have to replace Montes. Look for midfielder Bryan Garnica to have a better game with 11 men against Charlotte. He is the only attacking player on the team with above a 7.0 rating on Fotmob. He will look to whip in quick crosses to the physical Facundo Batista and try to catch Charlotte off guard.


Notes for the upcoming game


Necaxa is a team that plays a direct style of football, counterattacking, and looking for set-piece opportunities in their five-at-the-back formation. They are organized defensively and against most opposition look to sit back and hit on the break. The moment their wide midfielders have a chance to swing in a ball they will.


Charlotte should look to press Necaxa from the first whistle. The team will sit back and absorb the pressure, but their lack of speed could be problematic against a winger like Kerwin Vargas. The goalkeeper Raúl Gudiño is somewhat shaky in possession of the ball, so Charlotte could look to capitalize off a mistake. This should be a confidence-building game for Charlotte against a struggling side.


Even with 11 men, Necaxa is one of the biggest underdogs in this tournament, especially with their recent league form. Charlotte should use the quality of players like Karol Świderski and Kamil Jóźwiak to play quick passes and make intelligent runs that Necaxa can't keep up with.


The only problem I could see happening is the set-piece threat of Los Rayos, especially with how thin the defensive line is for the team right now, but if Charlotte can hold back any lucky set-piece goals, they should cruise to an easy victory against the Eletricistas.




Source used for history of Club Necaxa: https://www.clubnecaxa.mx/contenidos/historia



Comments