Oscar Rojas (red) and Toluca will host Guadalajara in a Liga MX game on February 23, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
TOLUCA, Mexico – It was only a few short months ago that Toluca finished the 2013 Apertura regular season with six wins and 27 points, totals that were good enough for a fifth-place finish.
Flash forward to present day and the Red Devils have already triumphed five times in seven Clausura games, ascending to second place behind fellow CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinalist Cruz Azul.
The club’s rise has been impressive. With opportunities to acquire an 11th Mexican title and a third confederation crown on offer over the next few months, it is full speed ahead.
For midfielder Oscar Rojas, who is taking a thoughtful view on Sunday’s encounter against visiting Guadalajara, the extraordinary possibilities presented by the current campaign serve as motivation.
"I think what matters is the present,” said Rojas about the meeting. “The other tournaments are already left behind, both for them and for us. The present is what it counts and in the present we are both fine, then it is going to be a complicated duel.”
After going winless in three straight games, Chivas has posted victories in its last two. It is even with Club America on 12 points in a tie for third place.
A win by Toluca, though, would create a seven-point gulf between the two.
“It is a game that you wait all season to play,” expressed Rojas. “It is an important rival. The significance of the win is important for us and we are focused on getting the three points at home.”
Speaking of home, the Estadio Nemesio Diez has been kind to Toluca as the Red Devils are unbeaten there in ten straight games in all competitions, striking for two or more goals in each of the last five outings.
Despite all signs pointing in the right direction, Rojas knows that now is not the time for complacency.
“I followed Chivas’ matches and I've seen them improve with each passing game,” he noted. “I think it will be a difficult rival. It is a team that likes to play football and getting three points is going to be hard. The idea of playing at home is always take three points, pressuring the opponent, not to let it play, always be on top of them and that's what has helped us to come out victorious.”
Toluca will meet the San Jose Earthquakes in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. The first leg will be played at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on March 11.