TORREON, MEXICO (KTSM) – 18-year-old Santiago Munoz, a Borderland native, was a major factor in Santos Laguna’s 3-1 win over Toluca on Sunday in Liga MX action.
Munoz, a striker who has now played in 11 of Santos’ last 12 games and started the last nine matches he’s played, assisted on all three of Los Guerreros’ goals in Sunday’s victory.
On the season, Munoz has scored three goals in 12 appearances for Santos Laguna, all of them coming in the last three months. He scored the first of his career against Club America; another against his hometown club FC Juarez; and his most recent against Necaxa.
Though he didn’t find the back of the net himself on Sunday, Munoz’s performance in just 59 minutes of action was something to behold.
Munoz got off to a quick start; in the fourth minute, a cross in off of a short corner found Munoz, who artfully headed it back across the face of goal to Eduardo Aguirre, who used his head to score the first goal.
In the 17th minute, Munoz ran at two Toluca defenders for about 10 yards, creating space for Aguirre, who let rip a golazo from outside the 18-yard box that rocketed past the keeper into the upper-left corner of the goal. The individual effort of Aguirre was no doubt stupendous, but Munoz should be credited for helping create the space necessary for the shot to occur. Santos Laguna led 2-0 at halftime.
Just after halftime, Los Guerreros struck again. In the 53rd minute, a ball into the box meant for Munoz was initially headed away, but it fell to the feet of Ayrton Preciado. He fired off a shot, but it smashed into Munoz’s cheek, before falling to Ferney Otero, who had a free look at goal from inside the 18-yard box that he did not miss.
Despite the fluke nature of Munoz’s touch on the ball, he still received an assist on Otero’s goal, giving him his third of the evening. Munoz has begun to feature prominently in Santos Laguna’s attack with much of the offense running through him. With the success he’s had and the poise he’s shown, expect that to continue the rest of this year and beyond.
Born in El Paso and raised for the majority of his life in Juarez, Munoz became a part of Santos Laguna’s youth program in his early teens. Already in his young career, he’s been compared to Mexican soccer star Raul Jimenez, who has scored 34 goals in 86 appearances for Wolverhampton Wanders FC in the English Premier League. Jimenez has also netted 27 goals for the Mexican national team.
A few weeks ago, Munoz was a member of the Mexico U-23 team that qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. He played in three games of the qualifying tournament, but did not score. Don’t be surprised if he plays a prominent role at the Olympics for Mexico this summer.
Munoz and Santos Laguna have two regular season games left in Liga MX’s Clausura. They will play at Pachuca on Monday, April 26, then host Puebla on Sunday, May 2.