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 Posted by Tom Marshall
Aug 19, 2014

Liga MX power rankings: Pumas, Chivas on the slide

Puebla FC and U.A.N.L Tigres shared the spoils in a nervy match, which finished 1-1.

While one of Mexico's big four -- Club America -- continues to dominate the Liga MX with five wins from five games in the Apertura 2014, the other three are slipping.

Pumas' 2-1 loss last Thursday led to Guillermo Vazquez replacing Jose Luis Trejo as manager, while Chivas lost 1-0 to Santos Laguna on Sunday and Cruz Azul fell 3-1 to Monterrey on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Toluca found some form in comprehensively defeating Pachuca 3-0, while Atlas continued its playoff drive with a 1-0 home win against Guadalajara rivals Leones Negros.

1. America (-): Morelia gave the Mexico City club a more torrid Saturday afternoon than coach Antonio Mohamed would've liked, but Oribe Peralta rescued a 3-2 win with a goal late in second-half injury time. The Aguilas are the team to beat this Apertura, even without Raul Jimenez.

2. Atlas (-): Leones Negros almost held out for a 0-0 draw on Saturday, but Atlas passed the test with a gritty performance that had all the hallmarks of a team ready to challenge this season. Edgar Castillo won a late penalty and Luis Caballero slotted in two minutes from time. The Rojinegros will have to get used to teams coming to the Estadio Jalisco and playing for a draw.

3. Monterrey (-): It was all about Colombian Dorlan Pabon against Cruz Azul. The striker netted a hat trick to prove the team can be a force without absent Chilean forward Humberto Suazo.

4. Toluca (+5): Goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera did the groundwork in Toluca's 3-0 victory against last season's finalist Pachuca, before two second-half goals from Paraguayan Pablo Velazquez sealed the points to make it four goals in five games for the striker. If those two players are on form, Toluca is a team to be reckoned with.

5. Queretaro (-1): A slightly disappointing home draw to relegation-strugglers Veracruz. It's the kind of game that Gallos Blancos need to be picking up three points in. Nevertheless, 10 points from five games is a good return so far for an unfancied team.

6. Santos Laguna (+2): In the second half on Sunday, Santos' tactic was obvious: Soak up the Chivas pressure and hit on the counterattack via Darwin Quintero and Andres Renteria. Two minutes from time, it paid dividends with Quintero putting the ball in the net just 11 seconds after it had left the Chivas penalty area from a corner. But despite the win, the Guerreros will have to play better to pick up the points against stronger opposition. For large chunks of the game, Santos were second best.

7. Tigres (-1): A stale 1-1 draw on the road to Puebla hardly convinced in front of a large away contingent from Monterrey. Once again, Tigres dominated possession and had more shots than the opposition but couldn't make it count with a victory.

8. Chiapas (-3): A deserved 2-1 defeat on Friday to Club Tijuana, the frustrating aspect of which was that when Chiapas did go on the attack late on, they almost got an equalizer. Chiapas host America next Saturday in what will be a real test of the team's level and ambition this season.

9. Pachuca (-2): Followed up a 3-0 victory over Chivas with a 3-0 loss against Toluca. Having winger Jurgen Damm -- the subject of a bid from Chelsea this summer -- out injured isn't helping the Tuzos, who are also suffering from the loss of Enner Valencia. Having said that, it was Pachuca's defense that was really at fault on Sunday, with it looking decidedly iffy from set pieces and crosses from the wings.

10. Veracruz (+1): The lack of goals -- just two from five matches -- is a continued worry, but the Veracruz defense has only conceded twice and has put a little distance between itself, Chivas, Puebla and Leones Negros in the relegation battle.

11. Leon (+1): Another William Yarbrough mistake gifted Pumas the lead last Thursday, but Leon found a way to pick up the three points. Gustavo Matosas' side still isn't functioning as everyone knows it can -- see Monday's 6-0 loss against Barcelona in Spain -- but we said the same last season and Leon ended up winning the title.

12. Tijuana (+2): Dario Benedetto has been guilty of missing chances this season but netted twice last Friday in a vital win. There is still some pressure on Cesar Farias, but the victory puts Xolos in striking distance of the playoff places, even if they aren't firing on all cylinders.

13. Cruz Azul (-3): It is simply not clicking at the moment for Cruz Azul, who looks predictable. The talent is obvious, but Luis Fernando Tena hasn't found a way to get the most out of it, as he did last season.

Based on Chivas' history with managers, Carlos Bustos should be very concerned.

14. Chivas (-1): A club under a huge amount of pressure with the relegation issue not going away. Coach Carlos Bustos said defeat against Santos Laguna was "unjust," but the lack of creation and taking of chances is alarming. It is now five consecutive defeats in all competitions, and Bustos' job is on the line in the coming days.

15. Puebla (-): A decent point against Tigres on Saturday, but the team is deeply embroiled in the relegation battle and needs home wins. Still plenty of question marks hanging over La Franja.

16. Pumas (-): Defeat against Leon spelled the end for Trejo as his side let a 1-0 lead slip. Vazquez knows the institution well and has enjoyed success previously at Pumas, although his first job will be instilling some confidence into his players.

17. Morelia (+1): Monarcas may have lost to the league leaders on Saturday, but it was their best performance of the season and the first game in which they scored a goal. Angel Comizzo's side is the youngest in the Liga MX and the project should be given time. They will certainly win more than they lose if they play to the level they did on Saturday.

18. Leones Negros (-1): There are two ways of looking at the Guadalajara team's loss to Atlas. On one hand, Leones Negros battled hard, had two very good chances in the second half and nearly got a result. The other way of looking at it is that the team played very defensively, was only really interested in the tie and ultimately didn't deserve anything from the game. Take your pick.

Tom Marshall

Tom Marshall has been based in Guadalajara since 2008 and has specialized in writing about Mexican football ever since. As well as contributing to ESPN Insider's Mexico National Team blog (@ESPNtri), he co-hosts The Mexican Soccer Show podcast and can be found on twitter @MexicoWorldCup

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