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 By Eric Gomez

Power Rankings: Toluca keeps top spot with two weeks remaining

Toluca kept rolling with a win over Morelia to remain the form team in Liga MX with the playoffs approaching.

MEXICO CITY -- Following an unexpected letdown in the Copa MX final, Toluca rebounded in the league by defeating Morelia 1-0 on Saturday. It was their eighth consecutive victory in the competition and cemented their position as the league leaders while those below mostly faltered.

While Toluca may have failed in its bid to win silverware the first time around, they have slowly but surely made the shortlist of teams threatening to win the league a month from now.

Here are the Power Rankings for Week 15:

1. TOLUCA (no change)
For those keeping track that's 10 wins in 15 games, eight of them in a row. Toluca's latest victim, Morelia, went down to 10 men in the 34th minute after offensive leader Raul Ruidiaz picked up a red card. However, Morelia buckled down on defense and it took an Alexis Canelo strike late in the second half to tilt the balance in the Diablos' favor.

2. TIGRES UANL (no change)
A last-minute goal from Cruz Azul's Martin Cauteruccio denied Tigres all three points at the Estadio Universitario. Though Tigres squandered a chance to officially qualify for the postseason, they are almost certainly guaranteed a spot in the final eight come this May.

It's true that the 0-0 draw at the Estadio Azteca against Monterrey was disheartening for fans of the 12-time league champions, but Club America remains on track to make the playoffs in the top three of the Liga MX table. Next week's clash against Puebla should prove enough to get them officially into the liguilla.

Two losses in the last three games for Santos could spell trouble for Santos, who are fizzling at a critical time of the tournament. The 3-1 loss against Pachuca exposed a few flaws in the team's defense, especially with El Tri defender Nestor Araujo out to injury. If recent games are any indicator, the defender's absence may prove to be too much to overcome.

5. MONTERREY (no change)
Los Rayados were down to 10 men with an hour to go at the Estadio Azteca. However, Antonio Mohamed's players were tough on defense and hung on for a 0-0 draw, a result that puts them closer to the postseason. As late as a month ago, Monterrey looked down and out: now they look like a team that can go deep.

6. MORELIA (no change)
Losing Raul Ruidiaz is pretty much the worst thing that can possibly happen to Morelia. The Peru international has been integral to the team's success and a red card against Toluca severely hampered his team's offensive capabilities. As Morelia looks to secure postseason qualification, the upcoming suspension will make the team nervy with two games remaining.

7. PACHUCA (+1)
Two wins is all it took for Pachuca to get back in the top eight after a season that mostly had them in the lower part of the table. A statement win against Santos Laguna has put tentatively put Pachuca in the liguilla with just two weeks to go. Keisuke Honda is a bonafide candidate for MVP of the tournament.

Though they took care of business at home against Chivas on Friday, they will need to keep it going next week against Leon to push towards the postseason. Another win would most certainly give Diego Cocca's team a chance to play for the title.

9. PUMAS UNAM (+1)
A dominant performance from Nicolas Castillo has given Pumas new life at the proverbial business end of the season. The Chile international scored a hat-trick and proved once again why he is one of Liga MX's top attackers. With 10 goals this season, Castillo accounts for nearly half his club's tally this season.

10. NECAXA (-1)
A late goal from Roberto Alvarado clinched three points for Necaxa. Ignacio Ambriz's team has now gone five matches unbeaten and they won the Copa MX title last week to boot, the team's first domestic championship since 1998.

11. LEON (+1)
Away at Veracruz, Leon took on a dangerous opponent and beat them to keep their playoff hopes alive. Mauro Boselli and Andres Andrade scored on Sunday and pushed the Esmeralda's point total to 18, just three below eighth-placed Pachuca. Tijuana and Chivas should provide more good opportunities to add to their point total moving forward.

12. VERACRUZ (-1)
Conversely, Veracruz gave up an excellent opportunity to push away from the relegation zone further by losing to Leon. Though Lobos BUAP didn't win, the door is still open for either team to go down at the end of the regular season.

13. PUEBLA  (no change)
Five consecutive losses for Puebla have dropped the team from a secure playoff spot to a team looking like it will miss the postseason once again. This time, Pumas roared to a late victory after Lucas Cavallini had tied it in the 71st minute. Though Puebla was a man up on UNAM, the team was unable to capitalize.

14. CRUZ AZUL (no change)
A late draw against Tigres keeps Cruz Azul's faint playoff hopes alive. Cauteruccio had scored three goals in his first 38 league games with the Mexico City but the former San Lorenzo striker notched his first brace in Liga MX to secure the important result.

15. ATLAS (+2)
Is this late surge an indicator that Atlas can compete next season? In their last five games, the Guadalajara side has 10 points. Through the first 10 games of the Clausura 2018, the Rojinegros had barely amassed four points.

 16. CHIVAS (-1)
Chivas is completely focused on the CONCACAF Champions League after a tough season in Liga MX has them almost entirely out of contention. Though Matias Almeyda's side had a recent upswing, consecutive losses against Veracruz and now Tijuana have basically sealed their fate.

17. QUERETARO  (-1)
When current owners Grupo Imagen bought the team, the initial approach was to storm the league with big signings like Brazil legend Ronaldinho. Seasons later, Queretaro is still undergoing the same slow and painful rebuild. The club's most recent loss to Atlas has put them out of contention for the Clausura 2018.

18. LOBOS BUAP (no change)
There are two games left for Lobos BUAP to save their first division status. A visit to Monterrey is up next and based on their recent form, it seems unlikely they'll be able to add points to their cause.

Eric Gomez is an editor for ESPN's One Nación. You can follow him on Twitter: @EricGomez86.


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