Liga MX Roundup: Cruz Azul held at Leon
It's a sign of how far the "Clasico Tapatio" has fallen that when Atlas and Chivas met this past weekend, top of the league or even playoff positions weren't at stake. Instead, both clubs were at risk for relegation. Neither team covered itself in glory with a 1-1 draw, but in the end, Guadalajara won the derby of shame when Chivas fans in the stands attacked policemen who entered their section of the stands to try to prevent people from throwing lit flares. Several of the security forces were injured in the melee, some quite seriously.
Atlante's 2-1 victory over Toluca on Sunday proves the Iron Colts are doing their best to buck off the threat of sinking down to a lower division. However, Puebla isn't having as much success shaking off the burden of that possibility. The team's 3-1 loss to Xolos of Tijuana moved the club closer to dropping down. Even Jaguares of Chiapas, who suffered a 2-0 loss to Pachuca, has a decent mathematical chance of being the team to suffer the fate of relegation at the end of the season. So does Veracruz. Every win, loss or draw for the squads in the danger zone will be vital.
At the top of the table, far from such worries, Cruz Azul clashed with a determined Leon squad fighting to make the playoffs. Los Cementeros were stymied in their efforts to collect the full three points, but the 0-0 draw didn't help Leon advance much in the table, either. Since Toluca, the team closest to Cruz Azul in the table, lost on the weekend, Cruz Azul remains the Liga MX leader with 29 points. The squad also advanced in the CONCACAF Champions League with an earlier 5-1 victory over Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City. Overall, it has to be considered a very good week for Cruz Azul.
Xolos of Tijuana also defeated their MLS opponent, the Los Angeles Galaxy, in the same tournament, yet had enough in the tank to also take down Puebla. The three goals were scored by Dario Benedetto, Fidel Martinez and Fernando Arce. Arce's return to the starting lineup could signal a strong comeback from the attacking player. It's perfect timing for Xolos, who move closer to a coveted spot in the top eight of the table.
Toluca, the final Liga MX team in the CCL, struggled to get past the San Jose Earthquakes. Extra time and the stress of a penalty shootout may have affected players, who looked a bit listless in the loss to Atlante. Juan Manuel Salgueiro didn't even get Toluca on the board until the 91st minute. Even with the defeat, Toluca remains solidly in second place in Liga MX with 25 points.
Pachuca has moved up, though, with goals by Walter Ayovi and Enner Valencia securing the triumph over Chiapas and a 20-point total.
Santos Laguna and Morelia kicked off the weekend of matches with one of the most lively contests in recent memory. The 2-2 draw had both teams losing and winning at different points in the game. Juan Pablo Rodriguez scored both goals and was the standout player for the Laguneros.
This weekend, Veracruz was supposed to be a tasty little appetizer for Club America to gobble up on the way to fry bigger fish in the upcoming rivalry matchups versus Chivas and Cruz Azul. But despite coach Antonio Mohamed's recent bluster about how the club's fans should forget about how well Miguel Herrera had the team performing last season, it's hard for them to move on when the contrast is so negative. Las Aguilas simply did not look sharp. The drab 0-0 draw keeps the squad in playoff position, but only just barely. If wins do not follow against the team's most hated opponents, Mohamed will find himself under a rain of criticism.
- Hernandez: America still failing to impress
Tigres' recent charge up the Liga MX table hit a speed bump as Queretaro stopped the team's progress with a 2-0 victory. Playing consistently well at home is a puzzle Tigres hasn't seemed to solve. William Silva and Christian Bermudez took their chances well, while the Queretaro defense was stout against the efforts Tigres made to score. The result leaves Tigres in 13th place, with Queretaro a couple of spots below.
On Sunday, Dario Veron felt both the ecstasy and the agony that results from scoring goals. The Pumas player was the hero for his squad when he scored the equalizer versus Monterrey in the 48th minute. However, in the 72nd minute, Veron sent a disastrous back-pass skipping past his own goalkeeper, Jonathan Orozco, gifting Monterrey a goal and the 2-1 victory.
At present, Pumas is still fourth in the table with 18 points. Yet five clubs are within a single point of overtaking Pumas and pushing the team out of the top eight entirely. The last match days of the Clausura 2014 are counting down. The time of the season has arrived where every single result is precious and mistakes are costly.