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Aug 18, 2014

Pumas tailspin, America aren't perfect

Dario Veron's Pumas side now must climb out of the bottom six under new management.

No complaints from impatient fans after the fifth week of the Liga MX kicked off last Thursday, a day earlier than usual. Those fans can thank Barcelona, who will be playing Leon in a friendly Monday, which meant that Los Esmeraldas had to adjust their schedule accordingly.

Thursday's win over Pumas initiated a weekend full of futbol with no real surprises, but plenty of exciting action on and off the pitch.

Jose Luis Trejo is no longer Pumas' head coach, Club America and Atlas continue to find success and Monterrey are beginning to slowly work their way up the Liga MX table. Speaking of which, the league table does look quite strange with teams like Queretaro and Chiapas sitting in the top six, while Pumas, Cruz Azul and Chivas are in the bottom six.

Taking all of this into consideration and more, here are my five lessons from the fifth week of the Apertura.

1. Pumas maintain the losing streak

Jose Luis Trejo must have known his fate immediately after Leon's Miguel Sabah scored in the 86th minute of last week's match. Trejo's spot as head coach for Pumas was tenuous at best beforehand, and it would have taken a miracle for him to keep his job after the game. Management has since replaced Trejo with the interim manager David Patino.

Pumas have seldom found success this season with their conservative approach and are in dire need of changes. The squad has now lost four games in a row and has only scored two goals during that stretch. The Mexico City side will now have a significant game against Tijuana this upcoming weekend and it is imperative that they make some positive changes.

2. Club America aren't perfect

America look immaculate at the top of the table, don't they? Five wins, zero losses, and zero ties. Thirteen goals scored and only four conceded.

Yet, their match against second-to-last Morelia highlighted the fact that the team may not be as invincible as they seem. Granted, it should be remembered that Morelia's goalkeeper, Carlos Felipe Rodriguez, had a fantastic game and saved multiple shots on Saturday. However, this is the second time this Apertura that America has secured a win with a goal in injury time.

- Marshall: Relegation looms for Chivas
- Faitelson: America so good it's scary

Either way, this is the best start that America has had to their season since 2002 but it will be interesting to see if the club will falter at any point soon.

3. Dorlan Pabon is the new goal leader

It should be noted that Dorlan Pabon has only started twice for Monterrey this season. Also, before starting last Saturday, Pabon had only played a total of 102 minutes over four games.

During all of these limited opportunities, the attacker has been able to score a total of six goals. Saturday's fixture against Cruz Azul was the first time he was given more than 45 minutes on the pitch and what happened? He scored a hat trick.

The 26-year-old Colombian international has scored six of Monterrey's eight goals in the Apertura and is now the top scorer in the league.

4. When Pablo Velazquez does well, Toluca do well

Los Diablos Rojos were almost painful to watch during their first two matches. Their 0-0 tie against Morelia during the first week is still the most boring match I have seen this Apertura.

The squad has been playing well defensively, but their reliance on Pablo Velazquez in the attack might be detrimental to their goal-scoring this tournament.

However, when Velazquez is on form, the team obviously succeeds. The striker scored twice on Sunday and helped carry Toluca to a 3-0 home win over Pachuca. Velazquez has scored four of Toluca's six goals this season. The only other Toluca player that has also contributed to the score sheet is Paulo da Silva, after his goal against Pachuca early on in the match.

5. Chivas are struggling to score

There's only so many free kicks that Fernando Arce can take. The excitement from Arce's game-winning goal against Pumas in late July has died out and old worries have taken its place.

Omar Bravo, Carlos Fierro, Aldo de Nigris and countless others have failed to score or sometimes even create opportunities for themselves. Los Rojiblancos have looked good when they have possession, but their ideas in the final third have been horrific.

Carlos Bustos, who was touted as being an attack-minded coach, must influence the players going forward. The talent is there but for whatever reason the team has lacked the motivation to finish the job. Bustos must be careful as well, the Liga MX is infamous for its fickleness with managers.

Cesar Hernandez

Cesar Hernandez can't remember a time when soccer hasn't been a part of his daily routine. Within that personal immersion of fútbol is a lifelong passion for the Mexican national team. He has blogged on El Tri for four years mainly through his blog The Big Verde. Follow him on Twitter @cesarh1030.

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