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50-50: Monterrey, Pachuca set for final

Liga MX Playoffs
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Five players to watch in the semis

Liga MX
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Monterrey-America headlines semifinals

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 By Tom Marshall

Veracruz's Fidel Kuri, Luis Montes headline action-packed MX weekend

If anyone needed a reminder of the parity of Liga MX teams, the first two rounds of matches of the Clausura have provided it.

Leon and Monterrey are the early leaders in the Liga MX Clausura 2016 after two rounds of matches and the only teams with two victories, while Dorados de Sinaloa and Queretaro are the only teams without a point.

Here are five of the main talking points from an entertaining weekend:

1. Veracruz owner embarrasses himself

Leon defeated Veracruz 3-1 on Friday evening in a breathless game that flowed from end to end and in which the final result was in doubt right up until Maximiliano Moralez added La Fiera's third deep in second half injury time.

But everything that happened on the field was overshadowed by Veracruz owner Fidel Kuri's actions in the VIP box. The politician completely lost his temper and was caught live on TV shouting into the face of the technical director of the Mexican Football Federation's (FMF) refereeing commission Edgardo Codesal, after Veracruz's Daniel Villalva was sent off in the 90th minute. As Codesal attempted to leave the stadium, a punch was swung at him and there was a scuffle as tempers boiled over.

After Kuri demanded that Codesal was removed from his position and stated he didn't regret his actions in interviews, Kuri then apologized on Sunday in an open letter and suggested he wouldn't appeal any sanction that comes his way, as long as it doesn't affect the team.

Referees in Saturday and Sunday's games wore a white ribbon in solidarity and to promote non-violence and the incident -- which was reported well beyond Mexico's borders -- was an embarrassment for Kuri, Veracruz and Mexican soccer. And remember, Liga MX owners like Kuri have significant influence on the FMF and the Mexican national team.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the only negative incident of the weekend, with reports coming out that Monterrey fans burned seats inside Puebla's Estadio Cuauhtemoc on Sunday.

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2. Dorados look doomed

The talk from the Dorados de Sinaloa camp about people unfairly writing them off and prematurely condemning them to relegation is all well and good, but they have to actually win football matches if they are to stay in the first division.

A home 1-0 loss against "sister club" Club Tijuana -- Grupo Caliente owns both -- on Saturday made it three straight league defeats. In the 19 games since returning to the Liga MX, Dorados have won just three times and never by more than one goal.

Fellow relegation candidates Chivas (two points), Puebla (one point) and Morelia (one point) haven't exactly made amazing starts to the Clausura, but all indications suggest this Dorados squad doesn't quite have the necessary quality to stay in Mexico's top division.

At present, Dorados are rock bottom of the relegation table.

3. Montes helping Leon

There were four quality goals scored in the Leon against Veracruz match, but probably the best piece of individual skill was Luis Montes' ambitious and inch-perfect pass over the defense to allow Elias Hernandez to finish for Leon's second just after half-time.

Montes was devastated not to make the World Cup in 2014 following a leg break and he has struggled to recapture the form that propelled him to a starting position with the national team. Shorn at Leon of his great friend and midfield partner Carlos Pena -- who moved on to Chivas in the offseason -- Montes seems to have come out of his shell this Clausura and will surely be in Juan Carlos Osorio's squad for next month's friendly against Senegal.

Mexico's second most-famous "El Chapo," Montes and Leon are starting to look the part under coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

Luis Montes
Luis Montes is in fine form for Leon and will surely make Juan Carlos Osorio's next Mexico squad.

4. Breathing space for America

"Nacho" Ambriz's Club America has been another team talking a good game off the field, but failing on it. Fortunately for Ambriz, it did all come together as America put in the performance of the weekend in defeating Atlas 3-0 on Saturday.

Los Rojinegros went into the game on a high following an opening day victory last weekend and the return of Rafa Marquez to the Estadio Jalisco, but America brought them back down to earth with a bump.

Looking balanced in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, America remains a potent force this Clausura and although Ambriz's job may still be under consideration, there is no reason to think Las Aguilas won't be there or thereabouts when the playoffs come around. One look at Saturday's bench -- which included William da Silva, Brian Lozano, Darwin Quintero and Andres Andrade -- tells you all you need to know.

Ambriz's main headache as America coach is getting his selection and balance right. On Saturday, it was near-perfect when it had to be.

5. Sanchez makes impact for Monterrey

Two goals from Uruguay international Carlos Sanchez helped Monterrey to a 3-1 victory away at Puebla on Sunday, making Los Rayados the only team aside from Leon to maintain a perfect record this Clausura.

Monterrey's major signing of the offseason, Sanchez was part of the River Plate team that downed Tigres in the Copa Libertadores 2015 final and was named the American continent's best player last year.

It is perhaps too early to suggest that Sanchez is the missing piece of the jigsaw for a Monterrey side that is stacked with talent, but Sunday's display didn't exactly do anything to dispel that theory.

Tom Marshall has been based in Guadalajara since 2008 and has written about Mexican football ever since. Find him on Twitter @MexicoWorldCup.

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