Eight weeks into the 2014 Liga MX Apertura – otherwise known as the last eight weeks before Ronaldinho Mania takes over Mexico – Club America remains at the top of the table after a hot start. There's more to that than meets the eye, though. The team seems to be heading in the wrong direction with an attack that has stumbled ever since leading scorer Raul Jimenez bolted for Atletico Madrid.
In this past weekend's match, America played Leones Negros to a scoreless draw, which extended the club's scoreless streak to 270 minutes. America is just one point ahead of Monterrey, which had its match against Chivas Guadalajara suspended due to heavy rain. Chivas and Monterrey are expected to make up the match next month, but the original date didn't come without a cost, as Rayados and Mexico national team center back Hiram Mier suffered a knee injury in the treacherous conditions.
On the flip side, the lone winners in Week 8 were Toluca and Santos Laguna. Toluca stunned Cruz Azul to pick up three points and take control of the No. 5 spot in the league. Cruz Azul keeper Jesus Corona made a brutal mistake to allow Toluca's second goal of the match, before getting sent off with a red card for complaining to the referees:
Santos Laguna, meanwhile, cruised to a 2-0 win over defending Clausura and Apertura champion Leon, which continues to head in the wrong direction after the departure of captain Rafa Marquez.
The remaining games on the schedule all ended in draws, so there was not much movement in the standings.
Here are Tres Puntos from the latest league action in Mexico:
What is wrong with Las Aguilas?
As previously noted, Club America has been struggling after a hot start. Las Aguilas have failed to find the back of the net in league play for three weeks, resulting in two draws and a loss.
Many believed a meeting against lowly Leones Negros would have been the best opportunity for America to get back in the win column, but instead the performance just added to the growing concerns. To make matters worse, Monterrey is hot on America's heels with a game in hand.
America did not struggle to create the scoring opportunities, but it could not finish on 14 shots. Perhaps shipping Jimenez to Atletico Madrid is coming back to haunt the club. When Jimenez left Las Aguilas, he was the leading goal scorer in the league.
The team now lacks a consistent finisher to complement Oribe Peralta, and it will need to find someone who is capable of stepping up to lead the offensive charge in the club's next match, against Pachuca at Estadio Azteca.
How costly is Mier's injury?
Monterrey is in second place in the league table and has a result pending against Chivas Guadalajara after the match was suspended due to heavy rain. The two sides are expected to make up the match next month.
Despite play lasting only 12 minutes before being called, there was a troubling moment for Los Rayados that could impact their ability to chase down the top seed for the Liguilla (playoffs).
In the seventh minute, Mier, the club's starting center back, went down with a knee injury, one to the opposite knee that was injured during the 2014 Clausura that Mier was forced to miss.
Mier thanked all of the fans for their support on social media and well wishes and will need to undergo further testing this week before learning the timetable for his return (reports state he'll miss a month), but the fact that his injury took place when the two teams shouldn't have been out on the field to begin with is certainly cause for distress.
Ronaldinho set for debut
Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho is bringing some much-needed star power to Liga MX, but there is still no official date for his debut. Ronaldinho was officially introduced as the newest member of Queretaro, but he did not arrive in Mexico until last Friday, so his debut with the club may not come until next weekend.
That means we could see Ronaldinho debuting in Liga MX at Estadio Omnilife against Chivas Guadalajara, where the atmosphere would be incredible.
Queretaro currently sits in eighth place in the league table, which would be enough to qualify for postseason play. The real question will be whether Ronaldinho is able to help the club on the field. As far as he is concerned, the goal is to win titles and... girls.
"I've always lived in the same way and with every team I've been a champion," Ronaldinho said, via Marca. "I look forward to doing the same here and continuing to win titles and girls!"
At least we know Ronaldinho's party-boy lifestyle isn't changing.
Player of the Week: Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Puebla
At a time when all of the attention is on a veteran legend joining Liga MX, another living legend, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, is showing everyone that he is still able to contribute in the top-flight Mexican division at the ripe age of 41.
In Week 8, Blanco netted a penalty to draw Puebla even with Queretaro and spoil Ronaldinho's presentation to the fans. Blanco's goal came after Queretaro's Dionicio Escalante committed a handball in the penalty area. The foul occurred seven minutes into the second stoppage time.
Blanco's big moment marked his first Liga MX goal since the 2008 Clausura.
Edgar Castillo (Atlas) - Castillo played 90 minutes in Atlas' 1-1 draw against Veracruz. In the final five minutes of the game, Castillo was pushing forward and looking for the game-winner, but Edgar Hernandez was able to come up with the stops, and the scoreline remained even.
Joe Corona (Tijuana) - Corona got the start for Tijuana and played all 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Pachuca. Early in the match, Corona tested the Pachuca defense and attempted to find Alfredo Moreno with a through ball. but Moreno was offside. Tijuana went down one goal in the 12th minute, but Corona was eventually able to find Moreno on the receiving end of his pass to assist on the game-tying goal.
Greg Garza (Tijuana) - Garza played in all 90 minutes against Pachuca. Pachuca tested Garza throughout the match, which led to the American conceding corner kicks on three opportunities.
Hérculez Gómez (Tigres UANL) - Gomez was an unused substitute in Tigres' 2-2 draw with Pumas.
Michael Orozco (Puebla) - Orozco drew the start and played all 90 minutes in Puebla's 1-1 draw with Queretaro. Orozco had two quality scoring opportunities, but he missed the net on both attempts from close range - one a header inside of the box and the other from outside the six-yard box following a set piece. Unfortunately, the moment most will remember is a missed tackle that led to a Queretaro go-ahead goal in the second half. Luckily for Orozco, Blanco equalized with a late penalty.
José Francisco Torres (Tigres UANL) - Torres was a second-half substitute for Tigres against Pumas. Torres replaced Marcos Ruben, who had picked up a yellow card earlier in the 56th minute. Both of the Tigres goals came after Torres entered the game.
Mexico Odds and Ends
Time to find out if Chelis' Puebla wearing wolf masks in training will give them an extra edge against Gallos Blancos pic.twitter.com/d4hjvt9qLt— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) September 13, 2014
Puebla has been enjoying their training while wearing wolf masks ... The Mexico women's national team was routed by the United States, 8-0, as Hope Solo set the U.S. women's national team record for career shutouts ... Chivas USA striker Erick "Cubo" Torres had a successful and promising debut for the El Tri men's side during their international friendly win over Bolivia ... Chicharito's Real Madrid debut did not go as well.