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 Posted by Tom Marshall
Jul 22, 2014

Liga MX Power Rankings -- Apertura Week 1: Monterrey makes statement

Pachuca held firm for a tight 1-0 win over Cruz Azul.

If there was one overriding conclusion from the first week of matches in the Liga MX's Apertura championship, it was that there are a lot of very decent teams this season, and competition for playoff spots is set to be fierce.

Expect plenty of movement in coming weeks, but here are the Liga MX power rankings after Week 1:

1. Monterrey -- It took Chilean Humberto Suazo all of two minutes to open his account for the new season, and although Leones Negros didn't roll over on Saturday, the 3-1 victory was comfortable in the end for a Monterrey side that looks ready to once again compete at the top end of the table this Apertura. It's about time with the quality in the squad.

2. Pumas -- A clinical display by the university club from Mexico City against Queretaro. The 3-1 win was based on sharp, incisive counter-attacks facilitated by the excellent Daniel "Hachita" Luduena and a solid defense. Up front, the Ismael Sosa/Matias Britos partnership showed promise.

3. America -- Las Aguilas will get better, but the 2-1 win over reigning champion Leon was a good start and a welcome early-season boost for coach Antonio Mohamed.

4. Pachuca -- Much has been made of the bright young talents at Pachuca, but against Cruz Azul, it was the old heads of Oscar "Conejo" Perez and substitute Walter Ayovi who provided the bedrock for the victory. The team showed a lot of maturity in holding onto an early 1-0 lead, even when it went down to nine men in the second half.

5. Puebla -- La Franja has been a little bit of a soft touch in recent seasons but showed a new steely resolve in guarding Luis Lorona's early goal. Puebla battled toe-to-toe with Tijuana and showed plenty going forward. The only stain on the performance was Efrain Cortes shamefully spitting in Dario Benedetto's face (for which he has received a six-game ban from the Liga MX).

6. Santos Laguna -- A run-of-the-mill performance picking up the three points against a Veracruz side that started well but ran out of steam. Pedro Caixinha's team managed the game well and should be a force this season, even without Oribe Peralta.

7. Chiapas -- Along with Puebla, Chiapas were perhaps the surprise of the weekend. Neat in possession and able to cut the Chivas defense apart regularly, the side from southern Mexico will cause problems this Apertura.

8. Toluca -- It didn't quite flow for Los Diablos Rojos or incoming playmaker Lucas Lobos in the side's stale 0-0 home draw to Morelia, but there is more to come from Jose Cardozo's team this Apertura.

12. Leon -- Without William Yarbrough's awful mistake and if Mauro Boselli hadn't missed a penalty, it could've been a different story for Leon against America. La Fiera showed enough to suggest it'll once again be a force this season, especially when its national team players get fully match fit.

9. Queretaro -- Despite the loss to Pumas, Gallos Blancos demonstrated plenty of attacking intent, had more of the ball than the opposition and weren't as bad as the score line suggests. However, the leaky defense needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

10. Morelia -- A good point in the end, especially having gone down to ten men in the 56th minute, but Morelia don't look the same team without the creative force of Aldo Leao and the pace of winger Jefferson Montero.

11. Tigres -- The Monterrey-based team was slightly superior to Atlas in Saturday's 0-0 draw. It was a solid display and a decent away point. The question remains of whether Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti can get his team to shift up into those higher gears that the talent in the squad suggests Tigres should possess.

13. Atlas -- A stale performance from a side that has strengthened heavily in the offseason. Things should improve for Los Rojinegros when Juan Carlos Medina and Leao return to full fitness, which should be very soon.

14. Cruz Azul - Simply didn't look ready for the new season. La Maquina huffed and puffed in the second half against Los Tuzos, but couldn't get the equalizer. Playing on the counter is Luis Fernando Tena's team's forte and going behind early forces it to chase the game. In that situation, it doesn't look entirely comfortable.

15. Chivas -- The highly anticipated "new era" at Chivas with the six signings fell decidedly flat as Guadalajara failed to pick up a confidence-boosting three points. At times, it is head-scratchingly difficult to put your finger on why the players can't get it together.

16. Tijuana -- The border team has based success in recent years on an exemplary home record. Starting the Apertura with a defeat to Puebla in the Estadio Caliente doesn't bode well, and there are plenty of question marks moving forward, even if things should improve when regular center backs Javier Gandolfi and Hernan Pellerano return to the starting XI.

17. Leones Negros -- The opening day loss was hardly a disaster, but it certainly reinforced the idea that the Liga MX is a major step up for Leones Negros and they'll need to be much more solid at the back if they aren't to slide rapidly into a relegation dogfight.

18. Veracruz -- Los Tiburones Rojos must do more, especially at home. Already, Veracruz's away trip to Puebla next Sunday (which is a bit of clasico for that area of Mexico) is an early relegation six-pointer, the kind Veracruz are going to have to get something out of to stay in the Liga MX.

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