Liga MX Tres Puntos: Tight race for playoff spots ahead of final matchday
The penultimate week of the Apertura 2014 in Liga MX is in the books. Chivas and Monterrey will play a make up game next weekend while the rest of the league enjoys a week off, before returning on Fri., Nov. 21 with the final matchday that will set the eight-team Liguilla field.
Entering the final round of matches in the tournament, nearly half of the league is still eligible for the playoffs.
On the opening night of Week 16, Ronaldinho's Queretaro picked up a big win over last-place Morelia to keep its playoff hopes alive. Dionicio Escalante put Los Gallos Blancos ahead in the 31st minute with a header following a set piece, while Camilo Sanvezzo delivered the dagger by converting a penalty in the 56th minute.
Santos Laguna also kept their postseason hopes alive, disposing of an outnumbered Pachuca side that finished the match with nine men.
Atlas and Tijuana played to a 1-1 draw as the weekend continued. The draw bounced Tijuana from playoff contention. Atlas, meanwhile, remained in the Copa Libertadores race. Leon came back to earth with a 0-0 draw with Puebla, but La Fiera remains in the hunt and enters the final week of regular-season play in seventh place.
Monterrey suffered a setback against Chiapas as Bruno Pires netted a goal three minutes into stoppage time. Pumas UNAM recorded a 2-0 win over Cruz Azul to keep their late playoff push rolling. Both clubs will have playoff hopes entering the final matchday.
Relegation-threatened Leones Negros picked up just their second win of the season with a 1-0 result against Veracruz, but both teams have already been eliminated from Liguilla contention.
Week 16 came to an end with two draws on Sunday.
Chivas Guadalajara and Tigres played 90 minutes without a goal, despite Chivas having more chances. Chivas' offensive inefficiencies continued to shine through and the once-proud club is facing a real threat of being relegated to Ascenso MX if they cannot come away with favorable results in their final two matches.
Liga MX leaders Club America continued to sputter down the final stretch of the regular season, dropping points in a 2-2 draw with Toluca. Pablo Velasquez scored a brace for Toluca, while Oribe Peralta netted two goals of his own including an equalizer off of a corner in the 89th minute.
Club America and Toluca enter the final weekend of the season as the top two teams in Liga MX.
Here are Tres Puntos from the latest league action in Mexico and league table entering the final Matchday:
|14||U. de G. (E)||16||3||7||6||10||16||−6||16|
X – qualified for Liguilla
E – eliminated from Liguilla
Playoff race comes down to the wire
With one matchday remaining, there is only a two-point difference between seventh and twelfth place, and eight teams are fighting for the final four spots: Chiapas, Monterrey, Leon, Pachuca, Santos Laguna, Queretaro, Pumas UNAM and Cruz Azul.
Santos, Queretaro and Leon are the only clubs out of the eight who will enter Week 17 coming off of a win. Meanwhile, defending Apertura and Clausura champions Leon have the most momentum. Since Week 12, Leon has yet to taste defeat and they now find themselves in seventh place. La Fiera has managed to get hot at the right time, so they will be a dangerous foe for any opponent if they can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Tijuana, who has been eliminated from Liguilla contention, on the final matchday.
The matches with playoff implications in Week 17 are (league ranking in parenthesis):
- Tijuana (13) v. Leon (7)
- Puebla (15) v. Santos Laguna (9)
- Leones Negros (14) v. Cruz Azul (12)
- Pachuca (8) v. Veracruz (16)
- Chiapas (5) v. Queretaro (10)
- Pumas (11) v. Monterrey (6)
Chivas, Puebla flirting with relegation
Chivas Guadalajara has come away with just nine goals in its last nine matches and the club has earned a win in just one of those outings. Very similarly, Puebla has struggled over the same nine-match stretch and have failed to earn a win.
Both clubs will have the Clausura 2015 to dig themselves out of the holes they created with their recent struggles, but relegation remains a real threat.
|18||U. de G.||0||0||0||0||16||0||16||16||1|
Liga MX newcomers Leones Negros remain in the most danger, but they have begun to find their rhythm and seem to be playing together as a team. The same cannot be said for Puebla and Guadalajara.
Both clubs will have relegation on their minds entering the Clausura and they will not be able to significantly turn things around unless their putrid offenses find a way to start finding the back of the net. It will be a very stressful, but important tournament early in 2015.
Club America showing vulnerability
After storming out of the gate in the Apertura 2014, Club America has come crashing back to earth at the wrong time.
Las Aguilas have failed to pick up a win in their last three matches -- a loss to Queretaro and draws against Chivas and Toluca -- while picking up just one win in a five-match span. The recent skid for America also included a 4-0 drubbing by Cruz Azul.
Club America qualified for Liguilla a few weeks ago, so perhaps the club got complacent, but they will need to come away with a big performance in the final matchday in order to build momentum and confidence entering the playoffs.
During the 1-2-2 stretch, America has been outscored 9-6.
Las Aguilas cap off the regular season with a match against No. 4 Atlas at Estadio Azteca on Nov. 22. Like America, Atlas has already qualified for Liguilla.
Player of the Week: Dieter Villalpando, Pachuca
While it came in a losing effort to Santos Laguna, Villalpando scored the goal of the weekend with a rocket from outside of the box to Tuzos an early lead. Villalpando ripped a shot from outside of the box and beat Oswaldo Sanchez to the top right corner.
Unfortunately for Tuzos, the defense was unable to hold of Santos and a lack of discipline down the stretch resulted in two yellow cards as they finished the match with just nine men and on the wrong end of the 2-1 result.
Pachuca remains in the hunt for one of the final four playoff spots and currently sit in the No. 8 position with a match against No. 16 Veracruz looming.
Edgar Castillo (Atlas) - Castillo got the start for Atlas in their 1-1 draw with Tijuana. In the 63rd minute, Castillo picked up a yellow card. Castillo also created some chances in the final stretch of the game, but failed to capitalize.
Joe Corona (Tijuana) - Corona is out of action with a foot injury.
Greg Garza (Tijuana) - Garza earned his 14th start of the Apertura 2014 and played all 90 minutes. Garza put forth a solid performance in Xolos' 1-1 draw.
Hérculez Gómez (Tigres UANL) - Gomez was an unused substitute in Sunday's scoreless draw.
Michael Orozco (Puebla) - Orozco got the start in the scoreless draw, but was carted off in the 68th minute with a still-undisclosed injury.
Mexico Odds and Ends
Miguel Herrera named his 22-man roster for El Tri's November friendlies ... Ronaldinho received racial abuse from a former Queretaro official ... The son of Mexican soccer legend Hugo Sanchez was found dead over the weekend ... Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has been involved in transfer rumors linking him to Liverpool ... Five El Tri players with something to prove against the Netherlands.