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Liga MX defeats to MLS a sign of things to come?

Liga MX
 By Tom Marshall

No goals but plenty of talking points in CONCACAF CL semifinal first legs

America Santos Darwin Quintero 160316
Despite Santos and America combining for 25 shots, neither side could find a breakthrough.

Club Santos tied Club America 0-0 and Queretaro and Tigres also went scoreless in the first legs of the all-Liga MX CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.

Here are five takeaways:

1. No goals anywhere

With an average of 2.8 goals per game in the 2016 Liga MX Clausura so far and only four scoreless draws in the 89 matches that have taken place, the lack of first leg goals was an anomaly, rather than the rule. Mexico's top division is arguably one of the world's most attack-minded leagues.

Perhaps the away goal rule made traveling sides Club America and Tigres slightly more cautious, but it wasn't a case of teams parking the bus. All four sides had chances, but draws were fair results in both matches.

The second legs should provide more excitement and goals for the neutral.

2. Santos Laguna picking up form

Los Guerreros had a bit of a patchy run before the CCL quarterfinal against LA Galaxy, but the 4-0 victory in the second leg has appeared to give them a boost of confidence.

After not winning a single game in February, the side has since won three and tied one. The club sits in fifth in the Liga MX and has a decent chance of advancing in the CCL second leg in the Estadio Azteca, especially if they can score an away goal.

What has become noticeable for Santos Laguna of late is the depth in the squad. It might not be the most talented in the Liga MX, but coach Luis Zubeldia could call on the likes of Djaniny, Byran Rabello, Diego de Buen, Adrian Aldrete and Andres Renteria off the bench.

That is arguably a better line up of subs than America and bodes well moving forward for Santos.

Tigres Queretaro First Leg
Queretaro had more chances and Tigres had more possession but neither side managed a goal.

3. Tigres glad of international break

Tigres have now gone 270 minutes without scoring a goal. It is a stat that will be worrying coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti, given he has a star-studded squad led by French center-forward Andre-Pierre Gignac.

The truth is Tigres have looked tired in recent weeks. The combination of a short summer break --- due to the Copa Libertadores final -- the lack of a real preseason ahead of the Clausura 2016 and the CCL games seems to have caught up with them.

The injuries have also started to pile up too, with Israel Jimenez, Jurgen Damm, Jorge Torres Nilo, Rafael Sobis and Jesus Duenas all on the treatment table at present.

Taking all that into consideration, Queretaro should be lamenting the fact it couldn't take a lead into the second leg.

4. Four teams interested in Club World Cup

The tournament may be maligned elsewhere, but in South America it is revered. Given the evidence from the CCL quarterfinals and the first leg of the semis, Mexican interest in the competition is nearer the latter camp.

Liga MX teams want the exposure offered by a place at the Club World Cup, which is given to the winner of the CCL. The remaining sides have all shown their intent to claim the spot.

Queretaro's plea for international attention was evident when it signed Ronaldinho and by the fact it rested players in Liga MX play ahead of the CCL semi first leg, while Tigres have spent big money on the likes of Gignac, Damm and Javier Aquino and want results.

Club America is celebrating its centennial this year and Santos Laguna have finished as runners-up in the CCL on two occasions and are much more internationally-focused than most Mexican clubs.

5. CCL lacking MLS involvement

The quarterfinals of the Copa MX and the semifinals of the CCL this week seemed to blur into one in Mexico, given that no foreign teams made it to the last four of CONCACAF's continental club competition.

Fans of Santos Laguna, Club America, Tigres and Queretaro won't care, but for neutrals the lack of intrigue in seeing different styles of play and that extra needle of playing teams from abroad has undoubtedly taken some shine off these ties.

That, however, is hardly the fault of the four Mexican teams still involved, who comfortably did their jobs against MLS sides in the quarterfinals.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.


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