Liga MX Power Rankings: Cruz Azul stay top, Pumas continue to surprise
MEXICO CITY - Two weeks into the Liga MX regular season, some teams are already bucking most analysts' preseason predictions.
Only five undefeated teams remain, while another five have yet to win. Surprises abound on both ends of the spectrum: Pumas has won its first two, including a sparkling offensive explosion against Necaxa on Sunday. Chivas, on the other hand, have dropped both of their initial decisions, with fans beginning to turn on the team's beleaguered executives.
Where do they all stack up after two games? Here are the Power Rankings after this weekend's matches:
1. CRUZ AZUL (no change)
Week 1 ranking: 1
At the Estadio Akron on Saturday, Cruz Azul weathered (no pun intended) the watery grounds against a Chivas team hungry to make a good impression at home.
The match was far from entertaining due to the conditions, but Martin Cauteruccio's second-half strike gave the visitors another three points, adding to their perfect start in the Apertura.
2. PUMAS UNAM (+4)
Week 1 ranking: 6
As late as the second half, Pumas trailed Necaxa at home by a score of 2-1. There were plenty of chances on both ends, but it looked like both UNAM and Los Rayos needed a bit of shooting practice. Then, in a span of 28 minutes, five goals were scored. Four came from the Mexico City side, who improved to two wins and no losses.
3. TIGRES UANL (no change)
Week 1 ranking: 3
Andre-Pierre Gignac's second goal in two games was enough for Tigres to down Club Tijuana in Monterrey last Saturday, amid a cagey atmosphere in which both teams looked more afraid to lose than they were eager to win. For the entire match, the two teams combined for only four shots on goal.
4. MONTERREY (no change)
Week 1 ranking: 4
Two for two under new manager Diego Alonso. The Rayados stormed the Estadio Leon with their positive play and got a big early boost when Pedro Aquino was sent off for Leon in the first half (they would finish with nine). In retrospect, Monterrey left style points on the table -- but the 2-0 win keeps them in the hunt early on.
5. CLUB AMERICA (+6)
Week 1 ranking: 11
After their disappointing season opener in Aguascalientes, the 12-time Liga MX champs got Colombian international Mateus Uribe back from his post-World Cup vacation, as well as talented youngster Diego Lainez. Both impressed in a 3-0 drubbing of Atlas, with Uribe scoring on his return.
6. QUERETARO (+8)
Week 1 ranking: 14
In their home opener, Queretaro patiently worked the ball around against a Pachuca team that looked lost for large stretches of the game. Though Los Gallos Blancos still don't have a consistent goal-scoring threat (Edson Puch and Camilo Sanvezzo have looked out of sorts), but their possession-heavy style will yield far more positive results than it will heartbreak.
7. MORELIA (+9)
Week 1 ranking: 16
A great bounce-back performance from Morelia, who looked dreadful last week at Toluca. This time around, Los Monarcas looked dangerous on the break for most of the match, with Carlos Fierro creating plenty of chances on the wing. His assist for Ray Sandoval opened up the scoring, and the consistent pressure from the team caused two late penalties to seal the result.
8. TOLUCA (no change)
Week 1 ranking: 8
Although they lost on Friday night in Puebla, Toluca outshot their opponents, held the ball for far longer and completed 87 passes more during the match. The loss will be hard to process, but there's far more to be hopeful about than there is to be worried about at this point.
9. PUEBLA (+6)
Week 1 ranking: 15
The soccer gods blessed Enrique Meza's team in their home opener, after a Week 1 loss against Cruz Azul in which it appeared they deserved much more. This time around, Puebla grabbed all three points despite being dominated by Toluca for large stretches of the game.
10. NECAXA (-8)
Week 1 ranking: 2
Whether they win, lose or draw, Necaxa will likely be at the top of the Liga MX entertainment rankings all season long. While most managers would have looked to protect a second-half lead away from home, Marcelo Michel Leano went for broke. In the end, a 2-1 lead turned into a 5-3 loss.
11. CLUB TIJUANA (-6)
Week 1 ranking: 5
A timid, uninspired performance on the road from Xolos, who had the ball for all of 31 percent of the game, put one shot on target and completed 220 passes to Tigres' 548. If Necaxa's style will be equal parts entertaining and frustrating at times, it looks like Tijuana's will just be the latter when they go on the road.
12. SANTOS LAGUNA (-5)
Week 1 ranking: 7
Last season, Santos' offensive flaws were readily covered up by the speed and power of Djaniny, who could take a simple lateral pass and turn it into a highlight-reel goal. Now that the Cape Verde international is gone, those flaws are on display -- against Morelia, they were coupled by a few howlers in defense in a 3-1 loss.
13. LOBOS BUAP (+4)
Week 1 ranking: 17
The 2-0 win against an equally sorry Veracruz gets them out of the cellar, but this is still a very poorly constructed team with nearly no creative options in midfield. They'll suffer, and they'll likely linger at the bottom of the relegation table once more for most of the season.
14. ATLAS (-1)
Week 1 ranking: 13
This roster looks like a first-time FIFA videogame player built it. Two slow, lumbering center-backs. Central midfielders who are clearly better suited to play on the wings. Wingers who can't cross or cut inside. Box-hound forwards who have to come out of the area to receive passes. It's going to be a long season, guys.
15. LEON (-5)
Week 1 ranking: 10
Leon's offseason signings were predicated on fixing a defensive unit that had been Mexico's worst last season. Through two Liga MX games and a Copa MX match, here's how that's working out so far: no wins, three losses and eight goals conceded. To boot, they had two players sent off last weekend.
16. CHIVAS (-4)
Week 1 ranking: 12
Under Jose Cardozo's stewardship, this team hasn't yet done much to write home about. Two games, two losses. The bigger storylines have come off the pitch. Last weekend, a group of fans protested the team's upper management in response to their offseason debacle.
17. PACHUCA (-8)
Week 1 ranking: 9
On Saturday, Pachuca displayed a timid approach against a team that clearly has less talent than they do. As baffling as it was to see Pako Ayestaran's team concede the game's tempo and possession to Queretaro, it was even more disheartening to see the lack of urgency after they went down on the scoreboard.
18. VERACRUZ (no change)
Week 1 ranking: 18
Last season, this team showed some serious flashes under Memo Vazquez as they avoided relegation by storming up the table. They're going to need a similar run if they don't want to languish at the bottom --a 2-0 loss against Lobos BUAP, even away from home, is inexcusable.