Liga MX returned from the FIFA break for Week 13, and the playoff picture started to become more clear.
Monarcas Morelia kept its position at the bottom of the league table thanks to a 1-0 loss to Veracruz in the first match of the weekend, while Tijuana was able to sneak past Ronaldinho's Queretaro side, 2-1.
Unfortunately for Tijuana, which now sits in ninth place, U.S. international midfielder Joe Corona went down with a foot injury that could keep him out of action for a handful of weeks. Corona has become a mainstay in the Xolos lineup, so it would be a big loss for the club.
As the action continued, Club America knocked off Monterrey, 2-0, and Toluca established themselves as a real threat in the tournament with a 2-0 win over Atlas.
Meanwhile, Puebla played to a disappointing draw against Leones Negros and Santos Laguna stumbled yet again against Chiapas, 2-0. The two clubs flip-flopped in the standings, with Chiapas taking over the No. 7 spot and Santos Laguna falling to No. 8. Los Guerreros have not recorded a win since Week 8 and it is in danger of continuing its free fall out of Liguilla.
Two other teams that continue to slide are Chivas Guadalajara and Cruz Azul, which had their momentum come to a screeching halt after falling to Tigres.
Guadalajara was edged out by Leon, 2-1, and Tigres benefited from a 13th-minute goal by Edgar Lugo to pick up a valuable three points which lifted the club to fourth place.
In the final match of the weekend, Pumas UNAM and Pachuca played to a 1-1 draw. The match saw five yellow cards and two second-half goals, and UNAM needed a 63rd minute equalizer from Ismael Sosa to avoid the loss at home. Pumas now sits in the No. 16 spot in the league table.
There are currently six teams within three points of playoff contention.
|7||Jaguares de Chiapas||4||6||3||18||17||+1||18|
|17||Chivas de Guadalajara||2||4||6||8||15||-7||10|
Here are Tres Puntos from the latest league action in Mexico:
Club America Clinches Playoff Berth
Since the beginning of the Apertura 2014, Las Aguilas have established themselves as the team to beat.
Club America has been at the top of the league table since Week 1 and they have now become the first team to qualify for the eight-team Liguilla thanks to the 2-0 win over Monterrey, who was previously No. 2 in the league table.
Pablo Aguilar put Las Aguilas ahead in the 49 minute, before Oribe Peralta secured the win with an 80th minute goal on the fast break.
It was a crucial win for Club America, which benefited from the home crowd at Estadio Azteca. After losing to Cruz Azul 4-0 in their previous match, there were some concerns that Club America's form was dipping. They erased all of those concerns this past weekend and will now shift their focus to winning their 12th Liga MX title.
Is Toluca For Real?
In a tournament where there are a handful of teams in the mix to bring home the league title, Toluca is beginning to emerge as a real threat and a potential favorite heading into Liguilla.
In Week 13, Toluca became the first opponent to defeat Atlas at home on their way to a 2-0 victory. The win allowed Toluca to leapfrog Atlas for second place.
Outside of Monterrey, which has allowed 10 goals in the Apertura 2014, Toluca has one of the stingiest defensive units in Liga MX. Diablos Rojos have allowed just 11 goals through 13 games, and Goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera is establishing himself as one of the best in the league.
Toluca has momentum in its corner, having not lost since August 22nd as it prepares for one of the most important stretches of the season.
While Club America may receive most of the attention -- and rightfully so -- Toluca is a legitimate threat who is capable of bringing home the Apertura crown.
Clasico Regiomontano Carries High Stakes
The biggest game on Matchday 14 will be the Clasico Regio between Monterrey and Tigres. In Week 13, Tigres earned a 1-0 win over Cruz Azul, while Monterrey fell to Club America, 2-0.
The results left the Nuevo Leon rivals even with 23 points in the league table. With the rivalry match looming, the stakes for Clasico Regio will be increased thanks to the standings and push for each club to secure their spot in the playoffs. For what is already a fierce and intense rivalry, the derby in the Apertura 2014 will be must-see television.
Entering Saturday's match, Monterrey holds a 36-35 win advantage with the Clasico ending in a draw 30 times. The two sides drew in their most recent match during Clausura 2014.
Player of the Week: Mauro Boselli, Leon
Boselli netted a goal in the 14th minute for La Fiera to give the club an early lead over Chivas Guadalajara.
Leon went on to defeat Guadalajara, 2-1, to earn their fifth win of the Apertura 2014. Leon now sits in the No. 13 spot in the Liga MX table and is within two points of reaching the top five - which would qualify the reigning Apertura and Clausura champions for the playoffs -- thanks to Saturday's three points.
With the opening goal of the match, Boselli is now the second-leading goal scorer in Liga MX.
Boselli is tied with Pachuca's Ariel Nahuelpan for second with eight goals, while Dorlan Pabon of Monterrey leads the league with nine.
Edgar Castillo (Atlas) - Castillo once again started for Atlas and played all 90 minutes, in a 2-0 loss to Toluca. As noted by Tom Marshall of MLSSoccer.com, Castillo has played every minute for Atlas in the Apertura 2014.
Joe Corona (Tijuana) - Corona was subbed into the game in the 60th minute of Tijuana's 2-1 win over Queretaro. After thirteen minutes of action, Corona went down with what appeared to be a serious foot injury. Following the game, Corona posted a photo of himself leaving the stadium on crutches. It is believed that the injury could keep Corona out of action for a few weeks.
Greg Garza (Tijuana) - Like teammate Joe Corona, Garza was subbed into Xolos' win over Queretaro in the 60th minute. By making himself a mainstay in the Tijuana lineup, he has also caught the attention of the United States national team and manager Jurgen Klinsmann. Garza started at left back for the USMNT during the two international friendlies during the FIFA break and he was arguably one of the most impressive players on the pitch.
Hérculez Gómez (Tigres UANL) - Gomez drew the start for Tigres in the club's 1-0 win over Cruz Azul. Gomez was starting for the fourth straight week in Liga MX and played for 75 minutes before being subbed off.
Michael Orozco (Puebla) - Orozco put in 70 minutes for Puebla in their disappointing 1-1 draw with Leones Negros, before being subbed off.
José Francisco Torres (Tigres UANL) - Torres was in the starting XI for Tigres. Torres played all 90 minutes and put in a solid shift in the midfield during the 1-0 win over Cruz Azul.
Mexico Odds and Ends
Erick "Cubo" Torres scored his first goal for the Mexican international team ... Rafael Marquez is not ready to retire from international play ... Chicharito got his first start in La Liga and came away with a goal, which was his third for Real Madrid. He also recorded an assist ... Mexican striker Carlos Vela has been nominated for "Best Striker" alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa for the 2013-2014 Spanish Liga de Futbol Profesional Awards ... Vela could receive an invitation from Miguel Herrera to join El Tri for the first time since 2011 for the November friendlies against the Netherlands and Belarus…Hector Herrera scored a goal in the Champions League for Porto against Atheltic Bilbao. Watch it below.