After Week 7 of the Apertura tournament in Liga MX, Club America is no longer running away from the competition.
Thanks to a Humberto Suazo-aided 1-0 win from Monterrey over Queretaro in the week's opening match and a stunning 1-0 loss for America against Pumas UNAM, Los Rayados have pulled even with Las Aguilas atop the league table.
The second match of the week between Tijuana and Leones Negros ended in a 1-1 draw, but provided the goal of the week thanks to a cracking shot off from the left foot of Tijuana's Juan Arango:
Saturday's action brought plenty of surprises, most notably America's upset loss and a 3-2 comeback win for Puebla over Morelia in Chelis' return to the manager's bench.
Atlas and Santos Laguna played to a 1-1 draw at Estadio Jalisco in the second match day, while Bruno Pires headed home the game-winner for Chiapas in their 2-0 win over Tigres UANL at Estadio Universitario. Pachuca also came away with a big 2-1 win over Leon thanks to a two-goal performance from Hirving Lozano.
On Sunday, Veracruz fell to Toluca, as Paulo da Silva used his head in the 71st minute to give Los Diablos Rojos their third win of the season.
Last – and certainly looking least – Chivas Guadalajara failed to score yet again in a scoreless draw with Cruz Azul. Chivas looked like the better side for much of the match, but the struggling attack failed to convert on 12 shots - three of which were on goal.
The scoreless effort from Chivas continues a lengthy drought in Apertura play (up to 364 minutes). The club did not score a league goal in all of August (nor did sister club Chivas USA in MLS) and it has yet to score a goal in open play. The lone goals for Chivas in the tournament have come off of set pieces from Fernando Arce. Chivas currently sits in 16th place and continuing to face what would be an embarrassing relegation.
Here are Tres Puntos from the weekend action in Mexico:
America loses grasp on first place
Entering Week 7, America was looking to get back in the win column after leaving its first points on the table following a scoreless draw against Chiapas. On Saturday, America was unable to do so and instead tasted defeat for the first time.
After failing to convert on more than 20 shots, America seemed poised for their second straight draw; however, the crowd at Estadio Azteca was left stunned when Dante Lopez fired off a shot from outside of the box in the 88th minute that was deflected and floated over the head of Moises Munoz and into the back of the net to give Pumas UNAM a 1-0 win.
The loss was made worse as it led to America giving up what had been a comfortable reign at the top. Monterrey scored a 1-0 win over Queretaro at Estadio Corregidora on Friday night thanks to the ever-clutch Suazo's goal to bring its point total for the Apertura up to 16. Las Aguilas do hold a two-goal advantage in the goal differential tie-breaker.
Club America has to wonder how much losing Raul Jimenez to Atletico Madrid will harm the club. Since losing Jimenez, who was the league's leading scorer at the time of his transfer, America has just scored three goals in three games and has been held scoreless in its past two. America's next match will come on Sept. 13 against Leones Negros, which should provide ample opportunity to return to its winning ways.
Ghost goal haunts Veracruz
During Sunday's match between Veracruz and Toluca, it appeared that Tiburones Rojos had taken a one goal advantage in the 50th minute. Leiton Jimenez took a headed pass from Óscar Mascorro at close range and fired the ball right at net from close range.
It was ruled a save, but the replay showed the ball slipping between the legs of Toluca goalkeeper Liborio Sanchez and over the goal line.
At the time of the controversial play, Veracruz and Toluca were even at 1-1 with Jordan de Jesus Silva Diaz scoring for Los Diablos Rojos in the 14th minute and Cristian Borja pulling Veracruz even in the 33rd.
What appeared to be a legitimate goal from Jimenez could have changed the course of the match, but instead it was Paulo Da Silva who scored the game-winner for Toluca in the 71st minute.
With the win, Toluca jumped to the No. 7 spot in the league table. Meanwhile, Veracruz slipped to No. 10. Had Tiburones Rojos been able to come away with the win and three points, they would have found themselves in a tie with Queretaro for the highly-coveted No. 8 spot.
Puebla impresses in Chelis' managerial return
The man known as "El Chelis" returned to Puebla as manager for another stint with the club. Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, who left Chivas USA in 2013, had previously coached La Franja from 2006-10.
Puebla is currently in the relegation battle along with Leones Negros and Chivas Guadalajara, but the club was able to secure a big win on Saturday over Monarcas Morelia to earn a crucial three points and jump to No. 11 in the Apertura table with eight points.
It wasn't easy for El Chelis and his club, though.
Puebla trailed 2-1 at the half, but it was able to regroup during the break and bounce back with second-half goals from Francisco Acuña and Wilberto Cosme, who scored two goals during the match, to earn the 3-2 win. Martín Alaníz and Miguel Angel Sansores were the goal scorers for Morelia.
Player of the Week: Hirving Lozano, Pachuca
Lozano put together a two-goal effort on Saturday night to lift Los Tuzos to a 2-1 victory over defending Clausura and Apertura champions Leon.
The 19-year-old midfielder, known as "El Chuky," is considered one of the most promising players in Mexican soccer and he is beginning to show why. Lozano now has three goals this season and five total since making his Pachuca debut in the 2014 Clausura.
Lozano netted both of his goals this week within a span of 15 minutes in the first half.
The first goal came in the 23rd minute when Lozano took a pass from Dieter Villalpando Pérez. Lozano fired off a shot from outside of the box and beat Leon's William Yarbrough to the top left corner with a true golazo.
In the 37th minute, Lozano scored his second goal - again off of a pass from Pérez. This time around, Lozano beat Yarbrough to the bottom left corner of the goal with yet another spectacular finish.
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Paul Arriola (Tijuana) - Arriola began the Tijuana's 1-1 draw with Leones Negros on the bench before replacing Richard Ruiz Toledo in the 72nd minute.
Edgar Castillo (Atlas) - Castillo earned the start and went the distance in defense for Tomas Boy's side in a 1-1 draw against Santos Laguna. When pushing forward, Castillo placed a shot on goal and assisted on a scoring opportunity.
Joe Corona (Tijuana) - Corona got the start for Xolos and went the full 90 minutes. The midfielder went down in the sixth-minute to bring a temporary halt to the match, but he quickly recovered. In the final minutes of the match, Corona was pushing forward and put a shot on goal while assisting another late attempt.
Greg Garza (Tijuana) - Garza started and played the full 90 prior to joining the U.S. national team along with Corona. Outside of being on the receiving end of a hard tackle in the 69th minute, Garza missed a shot wide right just eight minutes later.
Hérculez Gómez (Tigres UANL) - Gomez did not pay for Tigres on Saturday night following a disappointing performance in Copa MX play earlier this week.
Michael Orozco (Puebla) - Orozco got the start and played all 90 minutes for La Franja in the club's 3-2 win over Monarcas Morelia. Orozco contributed to the attack by putting a header on net and winning two free kicks. Orozco will be joining the United States men's national team later this week in Europe.
José Francisco Torres (Tigres UANL) - Torres came onto the pitch as a substitute in the 53rd minute. It was a quiet night for the American-born midfielder.
Mexico Odds and Ends
"Chicharito" Hernandez is finally on the outs in Old Trafford, after Manchester United and Real Madrid agreed to a season-long loan for the Mexican striker ... Mexico manager Miguel Herrera all but confirmed the move with a tweet ... The 22-player squad for El Tri's upcoming friendlies in the United States has been announced ... Mexico will face Chile on Saturday, Sept. 6 in Santa Clara, Calif., and will then travel to face Bolivia in Commerce City, Colo., on Sept. 9. ... Carlos Salcido announced he will retire from international play ... Leon goalkeeper William Yarbrough suffered a fracture in his ring finger ... Tijuana and manager Cesar Farias have agreed to part ways, with Daniel Guzman stepping in to replace him.