Hurtado's goal-of-the-year contender; Cruz Azul, Tigres stunned in defeats
After a two-week hiatus, Liga MX came back rolling with a series of unexpected surprises. Veracruz out-hustled Cruz Azul to earn an upset 3-1 victory, while Leon stunned reigning champions Tigres 1-0 at El Volcan.
The results in Week 12 are evidence of a league parity that cannot go unnoticed as we near the end of the regular campaign; it feels like the Liguilla has already started, with plenty of clubs in legitimate positions to snatch a spot in the playoffs.
Here are five talking points from Week 12:
1. Hurtado scores goal of the year at Estadio Jalisco
Although Club Tijuana has been unable to record a win in its last three matches, Miguel "Piojo" Herrera's team has the best attack in the 2017 Clausura. The 24 goals scored are proof that the season so far has been a successful one and that, come postseason time, Xolos will be in the mix.
Aviles Hurtado has been Xolos' main attacking threat and his six goals and four assists make him one of the best players in the league this season. In the new year, the 29-year-old hasn't been scared of experimenting with the ball. He's been an artist with it at his feet ever since it was rumored that Club America was interested in bringing him to Mexico City, but the striker stomped on the speculation by declaring that he wants to remain in Tijuana, a place where he feels comfortable and happy.
His goal -- like the ones that Hugo Sanchez used to score with Real Madrid -- set Estadio Jalisco and all of Mexico into meltdown mode. It was a magnificent overheard strike and typical of the season he's having in Tijuana.
2. Cruz Azul gets smacked by ailing Veracruz
Heading into half-time at Estadio Luis "Pirata" Fuente, Cruz Azul led 1-0 against Veracruz. Before the end of the first period, midfielder Martin Rodriguez had seen one of his shots hit the crossbar and Veracruz's Leobardo Lopez had missed a penalty.
The first 45 minutes suggested that Los Cementeros were going to get a vital win at an empty stadium. As punishment for the violence that erupted in the game between Veracruz and Tigres in February, fans were not allowed in for Friday night's match.
But joy turned into frustration in a matter of minutes. Veracruz beat Cruz Azul in attitude and desire and finished the night with a convincing 3-1 win. Adrian Luna and Edgar Andrade's first goals of the season propelled Los Tiburones Rojos to an unforeseen win, which now has Paco Jemez's tenure at Cruz Azul in serious trouble.
3. Toluca overtakes Chivas at the top
Toluca headed into its early Sunday match against Necaxa knowing that a win would once again put it atop the Liga MX table. On Saturday, Chivas escaped with a point after finishing with a scoreless draw in their visit to Morelia, who has only lost once since head coach Roberto Hernandez took over Los Monarcas in Week 6.
Not finishing Week 12 atop the table should be reason for concern for Chivas, with the absence of midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro for the next 10 to 15 days provoking worry, especially for the team's attack.
Meanwhile, Toluca, who had lost two of its last three games, is back and running after its 2-0 win over Necaxa. With a healthy Erbin Trejo, who has scored three goals during the 232 minutes he has played in the Clausura, Los Diablos Rojos will get a necessary boost up front.
4. America continues hot streak with Lainez in XI
In all of the games in which Diego Lainez has participated, America has at least salvaged a point. The 16-year-old is becoming head coach Ricardo La Volpe's good luck charm. Somehow, even with the team seeing player after player included on the injury list, Las Aguilas are managing to pull off important wins, and they haven't been simple ones considering that their last two were against Liguilla-bound teams Pumas and Monterrey.
America's 1-0 win over Rayados at Estadio Azteca wasn't pretty, but the fans are happy to see homegrown players like Lainez and Edson Alvarez helping experienced Mexican footballers Oribe Peralta and Jose Daniel "Chepe" Guerrero carry the team to victories.
5. Leon upsets Tigres for second win of the season
It's perplexing to think that Tigres, Liga MX's reigning champions, have only won once in their first five home games, with the league's best defense and a weaker offense than clubs like Puebla or Necaxa.
It's unexplainable, as it was to see Leon get its second Clausura win at Tigres' El Volcan. Tigres had 14 shots against Leon's four, but it was Los Esmeraldas who left Monterrey with a sense of relief after the calamitous season they've been having.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.