Tres Puntos: Monterrey, America the lone 2-0 teams after Liga MX Week 2
Week 2 of the Liga MX Apertura is in the books and just two teams are a perfect 2-0 and atop the table with six points. Monterrey was able to sneak past Pachuca with a 90th-minute goal from Dorlan Pabon, while Club America also got the edge deep into stoppage time against Club Tijuana through Pablo Aguilar.
Atlas, Chiapas, Chivas Guadalajara and Queretaro all recorded wins in Week 2, but there was no bigger win for a club than the 4-2 victory from Tigres UANL over reigning champions Leon on Saturday night.
Here are Tres Puntos from the weekend action in Mexico:
Champs Continue to Stumble
There were high hopes for Leon, who won the Apertura and Clausura last season, as they entered the 2014 Apertura campaign. Unfortunately for La Fiera, the loss of Luis Montes, who suffered a broken leg prior to Mexico's run in the World Cup, has proved to be a more devastating blow than they could have imagined.
Leon has started the season off with two straight losses, with a 2-1 defeat to America and a disappointing effort in Week 2 that resulted in a 4-2 loss to Tigres.
There is still plenty time remaining, and Leon can turn things around after the slow start, and the turnaround can begin next weekend against Morelia at Nou Camp.
In order for a charge to the top of the table to happen, the team's defense will need to avoid giving up easy scoring chances, and Mexican-American goalkeeper William Yarbrough will need to work on his focus to avoid giving up soft goals. Yarbrough gave up an awkward skipper to Hernan Burbano in the 13th minute on Saturday and a lack of concentration in the opener led to a 2-0 lead after Yarbrough initially made the save but then fell into the net with the ball in his hands.
Chivas Showing Promise
Chivas, who entered the Apertura with the threat of relegation as a real possibility, managed to secure a point on the opening weekend with a draw against Chiapas. On Sunday, the club had another early challenge against Pumas UNAM at Estadio Olímpico Universitario. Chivas entered the match having not earned a win in Ciudad Universitaria in a decade, but they did not allow that to deter them from their goal.
Fernando Arce came up big for Chivas to score the game-winner in the 87th minute with a booming free kick from 30 yards out. It was Arce's second goal from a free kick in as many matches and that has helped to move Chivas to the middle of the Apertura table with four points.
Chivas will be without Angel Reyna for their next match because of a red card suspension that could have been avoided. Reyna got his first yellow for giving referee Cesar Ramos a piece of his mind in the 41st minute, and his second came when he lost his cool and tossed the ball at the head of Pumas' David Cabrera in the 87th minute.
Reyna will be instrumental to Chivas' success moving forward, so he will need to work on keeping his cool and allowing the club to get a solid effort from him out on the pitch where he is the most valuable.
Despite the negative marks from Reyna, Chivas has looked promising in the first two weeks and they showed vast improvement in Week 2. They still have a long way to go before re-establishing themselves as one of the "Big Four" in Liga MX, but the glimpses are there.
Newcomers Not Quite Ready
Leones Negros made some early waves as the Liga MX newcomers thanks to their eye-catching kits, but they have yet to bring that same flare to the pitch.
After being outclassed by Monterrey, 3-1, Leones Negros managed to put forth a strong first half effort against Queretaro on Sunday night. Unfortunately, they were unable to keep up with Gallos Blancos in the second half and dropped their second match in as many games, with former Vancouver Whitecaps star and MLS 2013 Golden Boot winner Camilo Sanvezzo tallying the winner in the 1-0 result.
Leones Negros did not appear to have much fluidity on offense and the chemistry from their starting XI left a lot to be desired. Their execution continued to fall short and chances were slipping through their fingers.
If Leones Negros cannot get it together, they won't be playing in Liga MX for long.
To make matters worse for the club, their next outing comes on Aug. 3 at Estadio Omnilife against Chivas Guadalajara, who is setting out for a brief tour in the United States where they will take on reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on Thursday.
Player of the Week: Hernan Burbano, Tigres
Burbano was instrumental in Tigres' upset win over Leon. Burbano put together a two-goal performance against the back-to-back champions beginning with a goal from 25-yards in the 13th minute. The ball skipped across the pitch, and the awkward bounces were too much for William Yarbrough to figure out as the ball beat him to the bottom right corner of the goal.
Just 10 minutes later, Burbano beat Yarbrough from the center of the box to give U.A.N.L. a two-goal lead. That early lead was enough for Tigres, who went on to pull off the upset and secure the three-points that puts them in the top half of the league table.
Paul Arriola (Tijuana) - Was on the bench, but did not play for Xolos.
Edgar Castillo (Atlas) - Castillo drew the start and played all 90 minutes in a spirited defensive effort from Atlas that resulted in a shutout.
Joe Corona (Tijuana) - Corona got the start and played for 77 minutes before being subbed out for Alfredo Moreno. Corona created a scoring chance for Xolos, but Juan Arango missed the goal just wide to the left.
Greg Garza (Tijuana) - Garza got the start and played all 90 minutes. The 22-year-old left back was tested by the America attack and showed that there is still room for improvement. Garza was getting beat wide, but the tough test will be a valuable learning experience as he continues to grow.
Hérculez Gómez (Tigres UANL) - Gomez was subbed on in the 66th minute and immediately used his pace to push the Leon defense. Gomez drew three fouls in his 24 minutes.
Michael Orozco (Puebla) - Orozco got the start and went the distance for Los Camoteros. His aggressive approach led to five fouls committed and he added one shot on goal.
José Francisco Torres (Tigres UANL) - Torres got the start and played for 88 minutes until he was replaced by Antonio Briseno. Torres recorded the assist on Hernán Burbano's opening goal of Tigres' upset win.
Mexico Odds and Ends
Mineros de Zacatecas played their first ever home game this weekend against Necaxa in Ascenso MX play. Gustavo Ramirez put Mineros on the board first with the fastest goal in Mexican soccer history. The goal came in just four seconds from 55-yards out ... Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez subbed on in the 70th minute for Manchester United in its 3-2 win over AS Roma in the International Champions Cup ... Mexican soccer legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco returned to Liga MX at 41 years old, making his first top-flight appearance in six years as a late sub for Puebla. Blanco will take on his former team, Club America, next weekend ... Former Mexico manager Javier Aguirre was named coach of Japan's national team.