Four games into the Liga MX Clausura 2014 season, Toluca find themselves having won 10 points so far but are second in the league standings by virtue of of having a +5 goal differential with co-leaders Cruz Azul having a +6 goal differential. While Toluca have yet to grab that win to make people jump out of their seats and take notice, this is a team that has continued their fine run of from from the 2013 Apertura season.
How can one explain why Toluca have started the Clausura 2014 season so well and are co-leaders four games in? There are are several reasons behind why Toluca has started well and have picked up where they left off when they lost to Club América in the Apertura 2013 playoff semifinals. First and foremost, coach and club legend Jose Saturino Cardozo has come in and done well managing being the coach of the team he left a great mark with as a star forward.
Cardozo has come in and established a clear tactical idea of how he wants his team to play which is being balanced but lethal and ruthless on the counter attack no matter if they are in a 4-3-3 formation, their preferred 4-2-3-1 formation or even the occasional 3-5-2 formation. Watching Toluca play is a treat because it is a team whose style of play means that if the opponent reciprocates you are guaranteed to see a fairly well played game.
Like any good futbol team, while its great to have a coach with a clear tactical plan who has done well to implement it on the playing field, you still need quality players to play well and go out and deliver on the field of play. It all begins with solid goalkeeping from Mexican international Alfredo Talavera, and he is supported in front by the play of central defenders Paulo Da Silva and Francisco Gamboa. The return of Da Silva has stabilized the team in the back and allowed it to be able to play better in attack.
In attack, the play of young Mexican international Isaac Brizuela as an attacking midfielder has been great to see as his maturity and development have given this team an attacking dimension from that part of the field which was last seen from Vicente Sanchez. To top it off, Paraguayan international Pablo Velazquez has served as the consistent and dependable goal scorer for the team to rely upon. He has already scored three goals in the Clausura 2014 season, and this is after finishing as top goal scorer during the Apertura 2013 season with 13 goals.
Whether or not Toluca finish top of the league heading into the Clausura 2014 playoffs will be determined over the course of 13 more league games, and in all likelihood they may not care if they finish top of the league headed into the playoffs. That said, expect to see this team mentioned as a title contender and a potential winner of the CONCACAF Champions League given how well they will continue to play.