RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Wednesday, July 8

14-Man Micro-Metaphysical Roster: CLUB SANTOS LAGUNA

{spirit warrior - Brian Lozano}

[14-Man Micro-Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology calculating minutes played per the last 50 competitive matches for a North American football club, weighting that shit more heavily for most recent matches, and using them calculations to list the 14 players constituting the strongest psychic force on a club’s current path. This is done at Football Metaphysics Space twice a month for the Premier League clubs in England, and now I’m doing it for the top clubs in North America, two per month. Pay me for my emotionless labor paypal.me/dirtgod or venmo @ravenmack23]

Despite the fact this half of the Earth has been a little slower to handle the Covid 19 pandemic in any sort of meaningful and orderly way, the two major soccer leagues on this continent are cranking back up. Major League Soccer - the American and Canadian organization - is having some sort of group league tournament bullshit at the ESPN studios in Florida (a state currently heating back up with covid cases), and Liga MX is firing off a new-fangled Copa por Mexico to get people primed for the return of Liga MX later this month. Santos Laguna was sitting in 3rd before the shutdown this past spring, and finished first the previous season last December, but suffered an ignominious quarterfinal defeat to Monterrey, who made a bold run to the title unexpectedly. When I first moved away from my broken marriage and started laying around on the secondhand Ikea couch lifting weights sporadically, watching Mexican football as well as Copa Libertadores, I adopted Santos Laguna as my club on this half of the Earth. The green and white hoops appeal to me, and they're from Durango state, which is one of the more rural expanses to be represented in Mexican football, with the bulk of the clubs coming from the central part of the country, or ciudad Monterrey. That first liguilla I watched (Liga MX playoffs), Santos rallied to a title (only their 6th), so I've stuck with them in a loose allegiance ever since, which has mostly led to frustration in the playoffs, but Mexican football is pretty fun to watch to be honest. And with the years broken up into two half-seasons, you're never that far away from intense drama. At first I thought the split seasons thing was stupid, but that was just Eurocentric thinking expecting a full Gregorian calendar to be respected at ultimate authoritative law. Anyways, Santos Laguna was next on the agenda for North American football coverage when we shut her down here at Football Metaphysics Space in March, so I'm coming back with their 14-man Micrometaphysics to get this Raven Mack solo project rolling again on this here un-American football site that nobody knows about but actually exists. I'm a writer of massive gibberish, not a marketer. And that is how I will die.

#1: GERARDO ARTEAGA – Arteaga's a good number one, because he is full Santos, having joined the club's U15 team as a youth, and shockingly is only 21 years old. A player that young being the #1 on one of these lists, as well as somebody who isn't GK, is a metaphysical double to be honest. He's not only been key to Santos defensive line under long-faced Uruguayan manager Guillermo Almada, but Arteaga has cracked the Mexican national team squad for a handful of appearances, mostly in friendlies, since September of 2018. He appeared in all 30 of Santos Laguna's matches during Apertura 2019 and the shortened Clausura 2020, and is such a solid, confident full back for his age. He's definitely a player who may make the jump across the Atlantic to a European league. With the success of Raul Jimenez at Wolves this season, and fond memories of Chicharito's prime, it seems that other than Guillermo Ochoa's European run after World Cup 2018, most of the prominent Mexican players are strikers. If Arteaga (and Santos) have a good run once the new Liga MX season ramps back up, Arteaga might be a transfer target come next summer. I think if this had been a normal season with a 2020 transfer season right now, he might've even gone now. There's such a stunted growth period to our world due to the pandemic, with a lot of that "stunted growth" perhaps being changes in the way we think things ought to exist anyways. But it's going to take a few years worth of empty stadium matches to bankrupt our current money-fueled international football pyramid scam.

#2: BRIAN LOZANO – Brian Lozano is one of those Napoleonic assholes that you’d never like if they weren’t on the team you’re pulling for. He gets this look during matches, of some easily perceived transgression - from the other team, or the ref, or the crowd, or life in general - that just oozes “pending yellow card” as soon as you see it. I guess that’s the football metaphysics, because I’m not sure everybody sees that so easily, but I know I can recognize it, and as a Santos supporter, it sorta gives me pause, especially if the other side is headed downstream with the ball when Lozano gets that look, because I’m expecting some sort of senseless foul. The beauty of these moments though is that one time out of every five, instead of a foul, it culminates in an absolutely beautiful string of play that pulls a shot on goal out of complete clusterfuckery. And in some instances it even delivers a goal, which are those moments that make a fan of a Napoleonic asshole like Brian Lozano forgive all his idiotic seconds, because nobody else is capable of making things happen like that. Sadly, Lozano is out for all of Apertura 2020 because of a broken leg during training a couple weeks ago, which required surgery. He’s out for the next six months, and you just fuckin’ know it was exactly one of those over-the-top moments, even in practice, that this little hard ass got himself mixed up in, that caused the broke leg. Oh well. Some folks are just built that way, and it’s better to let them be who they are, rather than try to make them into something they’re not. That’s part of the beauty of Liga MX, as compared to the finer European leagues, in that a guy like Lozano is gonna get cleaned the fuck up for the big money leagues. The closest we’ve come to a Lozano in Europe is his fellow Uruguayan Luis Suarez, and we know how much everybody hates Suarez, for ruining the beautiful game’s bullshit beauty with his overt insane passion for the moment.

#3: JULIO FURCH – Furch is an Argentine forward for Santos, which means he's somewhat white-appearing. Colorism is a real thing in Mexico, and throughout Latin America, and is a contributing reason to the general dislike a lot of the other nations feel for Argentina as a whole, who happen to be a pretty dominant cultural force in football. Argentines seem whiter a lot of times, and also have an air of superiority stereotypically when compared to their other Latin peers. I wouldn't say Furch carries himself this way, although Furch was filing the paperwork two years back for dual citizenship in Mexico, in the hopes of playing for El Tri down the road (which he wouldn't have been eligible for until this year). Furch will get the chance to prove himself this upcoming Apertura 2020 season, with Lozano out for the entire season. Santos are gonna need Furch to live up to his complete potential in the rough and tumble world of Liga MX's short season melee.

#4: JONATHAN OROZCO – Orozco had been Santos GK for the past three-and-a-half seasons before the pandemic shutdown. He also contracted Covid 19 in Mexico, but recovered. He's moved to Club Tijuana (Xolos), whose own GK Gibran Lajud has reversed directions and come to Santos. It feels like a lateral move, but honestly with all things the same, sometimes lateral moves give a boost to both clubs because players are invigorated by the change of scenery. Santos Laguna was one of the few Liga MX clubs outside the central region of Mexico, revolving around Ciudad Mexico, But Tijuana is the furthest outpost in the top tier of Mexican football. Plus Xolos play on astoturf, which ain't gonna help a 34-year-old GK's body feeling fresh. So the lateral trade for Santos that shaved 8 years off their first choice GK might not be so lateral a move after all.

#5: FERNANDO GORRIARAN – Along with Lozano, Gorriaran gives Almada a pair of prominent fellow Uruguayans on the club in major roles to help steer the club's philosophy. Gorriaran actually played under Almada at Uruguay's club version named River Plate (not to be confused with the more famous one across the Rio de la Plata, or "River Plate", in Argentina). Gorriaran actually spent a couple seasons playing in Europe, albeit in Hungary, before rejoining his former manager in Mexico last summer. It was his first goalless season since 2016, back in Uruguay, but he did assist on four goals for Santos Laguna during his short time there so far, so he is having an influence. As with everything on this club, it's going to be interesting to see how that influence is altered by the lack of Brian Lozano's presence this Apertura 2020 season.

#6: DORIA – Doria is a Brazilian defender who, still at only age 25, has seen his football trajectory cross back over the Atlantic to his native western hemisphere. As a teen, as a sensation at Brazil's Botafogo club, he was sold to Marseille in France, where he was subsequently relegated to the B-team, and loaned out to back to Brazil (Sao Paulo), then Spanish and Turkish clubs. He had a little bit of a run on Marseille's senior team, with over 30 appearances, mostly as a sub, but a single goal scored in a top European domestic league, in a Marseille 3-1 loss to Lyon in January of 2017. He joined Santos Laguna in the summer of 2018, and is a key to their defense as center back. He got injured in the last few weeks of action before pandemic shutdown, but should be available when they kick it back off later this month.

#7: ULISES RIVAS – Rivas is a young midfielder who joined the Santos Laguna youth team at age 13, where he played regularly for their U15 team, and has gradually moved up to their U17, U20, and made his senior club debut in the 2014 Copa Libertadores against Arsenal of Argentina. Since then, he's mostly appeared in their Copa MX matches, but has gotten league action, and slowly developed into a regular member of their rotation at midfield. Two of their six titles have come with him on the squad, which is not to say he's directly responsible for that in any grand way so much as to say when you have a youth player who has been steeped entirely in your club, and you've initiated a winning tradition, with the young guys who grow into cornerstones for the club, it becomes the expectation.

#8: CARLOS ORRANTIA – Orrantia's been a right edge of the field floater for Santos since 2015. I love the heavy use of multi-faceted players on the edges who can be defensive or a winger on attack, as it hypes the game the fuck up. A note here that I've actually had to start using Spanish-language Wikipedia to look these dudes up, because the English version is like 150 words for Orrantia, whereas the Spanish one is a fuller fleshed out page. Hopefully my Spanish gets better by having to do that. The English continue to fail us.

#9: HUGO RODRIGUEZ – Even with Spanish wikipedia, it's hard to figure the actual club rights of some of these guys. Hugo Rodriguez is a perfect example, whose been loaned to Santos from Pachuca, or maybe not. I can't really tell from online records. But he's bounced around Liga MX for a decade, having played stints for Atlas, Tigres, Pachuca, Monarcas, Puebla, and now Santos Laguna. He's a workmanlike defender who fills out the back line, and is never going to transfer overseas most likely, but probably could plug it out in Liga MX another half a decade if he chooses. Just an obscure, hardly known defender, whose career apex was likely the two Mexican national team appearances he had in November of 2014 during a European tour for friendlies against Belarus and the Netherlands.

#10: ERICK CASTILLO – Castillo is a dark-skinned Ecuadorian winger who usually wears a mohawk, and who wears his nickname of "Culebra" on his jersey, which means snake. He's literally my favorite player in Liga MX, because he's so relentlessly persistent, and was definitely one of the dudes who made me fall so much in love with Latin American football that I didn't care so much about European football (especially considering the time zone match for me lined up better with football on this half of the Earth). He also is the perfect example of how Liga MX will be superior to MLS for a while, even if they combine into one league, because a guy like Castillo is not likely to be on an MLS roster, because his style of play is unlike American soccer - very speedy, cut throat, opportunistic, with a willingness for physicality as necessary. But it's a much more enjoyable form of soccer on a very basic level of wanting to go "ohhhhh shit!"

#11: DIEGO VALDES – Chilean midfielder who has been a second-level member of the Chilean national team, mostly for friendlies or lesser international matches (like against the USMNT lol). Valdes did, however, create an international racial incident in the build-up to a 2018 friendly between Chile and South Korea, by using his hands to slant his eyes at a publicity event, in South Korea, which wasn't that long after Edwin Cardona of Colombia had done the same, so the Korean media blew the story up. It's interesting to note that Cardona also plays in Liga MX, for Xolos, and that in Apertura 2019, there was a huge effort by the Mexican FA to curb crowd homophobia in their chants. It's a thin line between pride and nationalism, and ultimately having world power often times is what makes that delineation. But at the same time, racist Polish or Serbian fans don't necessarily have all that much power on the world geopolitical stage, although white people do. I don't know man, I'm not sure how we fix all the world's deep-seated issues.

#12: FELIX TORRES – Torres is a fellow Ecuadorian for Culebra Erick Castillo, but I am sad to report that Culebra has transfered to Xolos, which has filled me with sadness that I can't shake. Although there's going to be an aesthetic beauty to Culebra and his mohawk flying along the wings in that red and black striped Xolos kit. Xolos fans are kinda crazy too, so it's a good fit. Also my apologies to Felix Torres for his entire blurb being hijacked by somebody else. My brain's attention span is definitely not a meritocracy.

#13: JOSECARLOS VAN RANKIN – Josecarlos Van Rankin's name seems simulated. He also has an uncle who is a minor celebrity TV host, nicknamed El Burro. Oh to have a tio named El Burro. Life is mundane suffering, burning with slow death by a thousand cuts to the soul.

#14: ADRIAN LOZANO – Lozano is a younger kid in the Santos club structure - only 21, and not related to Brian Lozano. The beauty of Liga MX is guys on the second team will wear three-digit jerseys that start with a 1, and then youth team players will wear three-digit jerseys that start with a 2. Lozano is currently #191. Generally, you see these guys in Copa MX, or the Copa por Mexico that's running currently. It's always an added level of joy in seeing a guy with the number 9 dribbling confidently along the edge, building towards the box, and then in flies some red-assed defender in number 189 who slides in and knocks the ball loose to a teammate who launches a counter attack. I love that shit. I'm always on the lookout for #187s or #211s.

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