Streaking Leon vs. Tigres, Clasico Joven headline Week 13 in Liga MX
Ahead of this weekend's action, ESPN FC's Liga MX writers Tom Marshall, Nayib Moran and Eric Gomez look ahead to some of the league's biggest matchups and storylines.
Monterrey vs. Pachuca
Amid the fallout of the U.S. failing to qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday, an emotional Omar Gonzalez describing his own goal as "one that will haunt me forever" and then apologizing to fans was one of the most raw and honest moments.
But Gonzalez has very little time to now process what has happened. The 29-year-old is back with Pachuca and preparing for the team's biggest game of the season away against Monterrey -- where Gonzalez has family -- on Saturday.
This game pits two of the Liga MX's best sides. Monterrey is undefeated and the most impressive team of the Apertura by a distance, whereas Pachuca has struggled to match expectations and is down in 12th.
Gonzalez and Pachuca will need to step up and get a result if the Apertura isn't going to turn into a monotonous countdown to December's Club World Cup. -- Tom Marshall
America vs. Cruz Azul
Cruz Azul has yet to lose a game at Estadio Azul. Its current home record has the team on the brink of reaching the Liguilla after missing the last six. Without a doubt, under Paco Jemez, La Maquina has developed a competitive character, which has allowed it to go into every league game with a solid chance to win.
But there's a problem that Jemez must address in the upcoming weeks, just to make sure the team can actually finish the season in the top eight. It's true that Cruz Azul is coming off a 4-0 win over a poor Pumas side, but before this match, the team only scored four goals in five matches. The team's offense hasn't been consistent, and if it aspires to beat America, it will need its attackers to be more clinical in front of goal.
Meanwhile, America is only four points off the league's current leader, Monterrey. Under Miguel "Piojo" Herrera, a player like Darwin Quintero, who almost left the club in the last offseason, has become the team's most dynamic attacking option. Herrera's continuous support toward striker Silvio Romero is also slowly working as he scored one of the goals in the 2-1 win over Toluca.
One of the main dilemmas Herrera has encountered in his second stint as America manager is that players like Guido Rodriguez and Cecilio Dominguez are not excelling. While Rodriguez has had the tendency to get red-carded, Dominguez has offered very little since America's 2-1 win over Pumas in week three.
This edition of the Clasico Joven will have a playoff aroma because both teams want to reach the big dance in the best possible form. A convincing Cruz Azul win would prove that Jemez's team is for real this season. -- Nayib Moran
Leon vs. Tigres
Leon vs. Tigres could be the premier tilt this weekend. The Esmeralda offense is absolutely lights out and the entire team has galvanized itself following the firing of Javier Torrente. Mauro Boselli is ageless, and has once again begun a strong run towards the top of the goalscoring charts. Couple that with the offensive output from players like Elias Hernandez and Luis Montes and you've got one of the most electrifying frontlines in Mexican soccer.
Meanwhile, Tigres' precarious balancing act between a top-heavy offensive unit and a newly re-formed defensive line should prove interesting when facing off against Leon at the Mexican "Nou Camp". After giving up six goals in two games, "Tucaball" returned in Tijuana and Tigres played a somewhat defensive strategy to secure a 1-0 win away at the Estadio Caliente. Leon, on the other hand, are riding a five-game winning streak across all competitions, though their only tough opponent during that stretch was arguably America, who they stunned with a late comeback at home.
Between both of these teams, there have been 39 goals scored this season, Tigres ranking as the country's top goalscoring team, with Leon just one goal behind them. Nothing would thus be more Liga MX if this game ended 0-0. Let's hope it doesn't. -- Eric Gomez