The northeastern Jalisco town of Tepatitlan is on the verge of something truly special, locals believe. If the town’s soccer team defeats Morelia in the final game of the Liga de Expansión Mx (Mexico’s second tier pro league) on Saturday, May 15, it will represent the finest hour in this humble club’s 77-year history.
Tepatitlan’s compact stadium holds just 12,000 spectators and was filled to (Covid) capacity Wednesday – the state governor also attended – for the first game of the two-game Expansión Mx final with Morelia, a team with a far more distinguished trajectory in Mexican soccer lore.
Nonetheless, Tepatitlan’s gritty players managed to grind out a 1-0 victory, an advantage fans hope will be sufficient to carry the team through Saturday’s tough game in the Michoacan capital.
Unfortunately, unlike in the past, winning the second tier league does not mean Tepatitlan will ascend to the Liga Mx, the country’s top division, where fame and riches abound.
The Expansión Mx was founded last year as part of the Mexican Football Federation’s “Stabilization Project,” which has the primary objective of rescuing financially troubled teams and preventing the disappearance of a second-tier professional league in Mexico. Soccer authorities decided that there would be no promotion and relegation during the following six seasons of the league to allow teams to consolidate stable projects with strong administration, finances and infrastructure.