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Mexico's omission from FC 100

FC 100
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

ESPN FC's Liga MX Midseason Awards: Best player, signing, biggest flop, more

We began the 2016 Apertura worried. Where's the wild Liga MX we know and love? No sooner had we started to ask questions about dull goalless draws and crisis at Chivas than the league decided to explode en route to a whopping 40 goals in Week 6. Okay, we're back.

Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre took over at Santos Laguna after Luis Zubeldia and the club parted ways, Carlos Salcedo became the latest Mexican player to leave for Europe following a 2-2 Clasico Tapatio against Atlas, and Chivas stormed to a 3-0 Clasico Nacional victory soon after. We'd be remiss to forget, of course, the "cruzazuleada" of epic proportions that took place when Cruz Azul imploded against Club America just last week

Now that we've reached the midway point of the season, our Liga MX bloggers and editors Tom Marshall, Nayib Moran, Cesar Hernandez, Jessica Lopez and Eric Gomez dish out their awards for best player, breakout stars, biggest flops and more.

Best player

Dayro Moreno, FW, Club Tijuana

Seven goals in eight games and a key figure in Club Tijuana being top of Liga MX. -- Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup)

With seven goals and one assist in eight matches so far, Moreno has been the best player in Liga MX. Thanks to the 30-year-old Colombian -- who has played a part in over half of Xolos' goals -- Tijuana currently sits in first place. -- Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol)

Quietly putting together another great season and leading the Golden Boot race. A guarantee up front for Xolos, he makes everyone around him better. -- Eric Gomez (@EricGomez86)

Dayro Moreno scored the second goal in Club Tijuana's 2-1 win over Cruz Azul in August.

Orbelin Pineda, MF, Chivas 

Although this is an atypical pick because Pineda still doesn't have a single goal or assist to his name this Apertura, his performance in the midfield for Chivas has been a determining factor in some of their biggest results. His distribution and recuperation of the ball is especially noteworthy. -- Nayib Moran (@nayibmoran)

Federico Vilar, GK, Club Tijuana

What's not to love about a 39-year-old goalkeeper keeping his team -- top of the league, to be sure -- in some clutch games? Look no further than his performance in the goalless draw against Monterrey for proof; Xolos have gotten points from tight results this Apertura, only letting up more than a single goal on one occasion (the 3-2 defeat to Puebla). -- Jessica Lopez (@jzlatlopez)

Breakout player

Angel Zaldivar, FW, Chivas

Omar Bravo's exit from Chivas piled the pressure on striker Zaldivar, but after a shaky start to the Apertura, he's shown his quality and even won a Mexico cap. -- Marshall

The Chivas attacker has been entrusted with replacing Bravo and leading their attack. Hard to argue with the results thus far. -- Gomez

The pressure has been lifted from Angel Zaldivar's shoulders, allowing him to find some fine form for Chivas.

Jonathan Rodriguez, FW, Santos Laguna

Although his team is struggling, there is something special about Rodriguez. The agile and strong 23-year-old has quickly taken over a starting role with the club since arriving over the summer. Unfortunately for the Uruguayan, he is the only Santos player who has found the back of the net on more than one occasion. -- Hernandez

Michael Perez, MF, Chivas

In Perez, head coach Matias Almeyda has found a midfielder that reads and interprets the game as he himself once did. Perez is having the type of season that should allow him to become Chivas' mainstay defensive midfielder for many campaigns to come. -- Moran 

Isaac "Conejito" Brizuela, MF, Chivas

Yes, "Conejito" is a bit older than the other players up for this award (26), but his recent eruption of brilliant form -- scoring twice and providing an assist against Club America and striking vs. Chiapas -- is "breakout" in its essence. Juan Carlos Osorio is watching, no doubt. -- Lopez

Best manager

Matias Almeyda, Chivas

The bold decisions to keep Carlos "Gullit" Pena and Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez on the bench have been inspired, with youngsters Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez and Michael Perez announcing themselves as ones to watch. Then, there is the attacking brand of football at Chivas, as well as the way the Argentine conducts himself with the press. -- Marshall

After a year as Chivas' head coach, Almeyda has effectively instilled his ideas in his squad. The team will likely close out the season in style. -- Moran

Given a short squad in danger of relegation a year ago, he's now a hot commodity named as a candidate for big jobs in Mexico and abroad. -- Gomez

Momentum is building and Almeyda's Rebaño Sagrado already looks poised to do big things come Liguilla time. -- Lopez

Miguel "Piojo" Herrera, Club Tijuana

The Xolos manager brought in some excellent additions to the roster over the summer and had pushed Tijuana to a spot at first through an attack-minded 4-3-3 formation. It's no surprise that many El Tri fans are now wanting the spirited leader to return to the helm of the national team. -- Hernandez

How far can Miguel Herrera take Club Tijuana?

Best signing

Ismael Sosa, FW, Tigres

A boring choice, but watching the Argentine forward's understanding with Andre-Pierre Gignac develop has been fascinating. It is only likely to improve and Sosa already has four goals this Apertura. -- Marshall 

Raul Ruidiaz, MF, Morelia

Morelia is in the playoff hunt and much is due to Ruidiaz's goals and performances. His quick adaptation to Liga MX has been exemplary. -- Moran

This award might go to Andy Delort or Alan Pulido by the end of the season, but for now, it's Monarcas Morelia's Ruidiaz. The 26-year-old Peruvian striker has shown several moments of brilliance in this tournament and currently has five goals to his name. --Hernandez

The Peruvian forward has been lights out on a Morelia team that needed a big scorer. -- Gomez

Francisco Palencia, Pumas (manager)

Inclined to say Ruidiaz, but giving debutant manager "Paco" Palencia the nod. A beacon of intensity and expressiveness on the sideline and a stellar signing in the managerial seat. -- Lopez

Club legend Francisco Palencia led his Pumas side to a 1-0 win over Chivas in their Apertura opener.

Biggest surprise

Any talk of Chivas right-back Jesus "Chapo" Sanchez and the Mexico national team would have been taken as a joke a year ago. Not now. The 27-year-old has had more touches of the ball than any other player in Liga MX aside from Atlas' Rafael Marquez, has three assists to his name and is No. 2 in successful tackles. -- Marshall

Monterrey's slow start. Monterrey, one of the 2016 Clausura's finalists and unbeatable sides, is living a tumultuous moment. In the Apertura, it has only been able to win one of its four home games. -- Moran

After an expected shaky start for recently promoted Necaxa, the club has now taken off with a three-game undefeated streak that has pushed it up to 10th place. If Los Rayos can maintain this momentum, they will easily avoid relegation next year. -- Hernandez

Club Tijuana. Good signings, good coach, but superlider? Didn't seem likely at the start of the season. -- Gomez

That Tigres aren't beating teams by double digits. In all seriousness, though, 11 goals total (fewer than six other sides) is somewhat unexpected from a squad so chock full of attacking talent. -- Lopez

Ismael Sosa is in the best signing mix after joining Tigres from Pumas in June.

Biggest flop

Santos Laguna reached the playoffs last season, but are in 17th place at the midway stage of the Apertura, having already replaced Zubeldia with De la Torre as coach. -- Marshall

Saul Berjon, Pumas' most significant attacking pickup in the offseason, did not have a goal or an assist in either of his team's last two home matches (in which they scored nine goals total). Palencia's squad needs Berjon's attacking output in order to be a difficult team to beat in the latter part of the season. -- Moran

At his very best, Jose Juan Vazquez is the most talented Mexican in the league. That said, the 28-year-old has lacked the same kind of energy and poise that once made him a starter with El Tri in 2014. Now, the defensive midfielder is a bench player for Chivas. -- Hernandez

Cruz Azul. Is it a flop when you've been mired in mediocrity for 19 years? -- Gomez

At the midway point, it's all Monterrey. While flop might not be the most apt description, going down 4-0 against Pumas after a little over a half hour en route to a 5-3 defeat was just that. -- Lopez

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