The 2012 Apertura (opening) season is on it's final stretch run as several teams will be fighting for a spot in the liguilla (playoffs) over the last three weeks. 14 weeks are in the books and it would be hard pressed to find someone who predicted the table would look like it does.
Toluca is at the top of the Mexican first division with 29 points, followed by Club Tijuana (29 points), newly promoted Leon (24 points), Cruz Azul (22 points), and Club America (21 points). Spots 6-14 are separated by just five points and those teams could finish just about anywhere.
Currently, Toluca clearly has to be the favorite to win the Mexican title. Led by Enrique Meza, Toluca kicked off the season with five straight wins, was unbeaten through seven weeks, and has only lost twice. The team has a good balance of experience and it's nice to see them competing on such a high level after last year's leading goal scorer Ivan Alonso retired prior to the season.
Liga MX Week 14 Wrap
A few games stood out this past weekend and many had huge playoff implications for the teams involved. Club Tijuana and Cruz Azul was the highlight of the Friday matches, with this one ending 2-2. With the draw, Tijuana (one of the season's biggest surprises) remain undefeated at Estadio Caliente. Cruz Azul remain one of the better clubs after starting the year off very slow. Tijuana, who has only been in the top division for a year, has been consistently one of the best clubs throughout the season. The Xolos only have one loss on the year and are definitely a serious contender for the Apertura title.
On Saturday, powerhouse Club America faced off with the biggest surprise of the season, Club Leon. Leon is the newest addition to Liga MX, gaining promotion prior to the start of the season. Leon got the lead moments into the second half, but America's Christian Benitez got two late goals to push Las Aguilas to a 2-1 win at home in Estadio Azteca. Leon remains third in the table, while America jumped up to fifth.
On Sunday, defending champions Santos Laguna travelled to Toluca to take on the Diablos Rojos. This was surely one of the best games on paper, and it sure lived up to it - at least for Toluca fans. Toluca went up early, getting a goal in the 10' and 28', and held the 2-0 until halftime. In the 64', Toluca's Luis Tejada scored what surely could be a goal of the year candidate by a self made bicycle kick over Santos' Oswaldo Sanchez to give his side a commanding 3-0 lead. Mexican gold medalist Oribe Peralta countered with an incredible goal just five minutes later, but Santos was unable to do much else. Toluca controlled the entire game, sending the defending champs to a 4-1 loss and keeping them mixed up in the middle of the table.
The last game of the weekend placed Chivas on the road against lowly Atlante. Chivas has continued their up and down season, but hadn't lost in their last three games in an attempt to gain playoff positioning. Atlante on the other hand, has had little to celebrate other than the success of striker Esteban Paredes who is scoring at will in Mexico. Chivas was expected to get an easy win and continue to climb, but were knocked down to reality by a 3-1 loss in Cancun.
Here's a recap of all the action:
Week 14 Results (home team on left, winner in bold)
Jaguares 2, Puebla 0
Tijuana 2, America 2
Queretaro 1, Morelia 2
America 2, Leon 1
Tigres 5, Pumas 0
Pachuca 1, Monterrey 1
Atlas 2, San Luis 3
Toluca 4, Santos 1
Atlante 3, Chivas 1
Copa MX Semifinals Set
The return of the Copa MX has given fans a number of storylines to follow - but by far the biggest shock is the semifinals consist of four Ascenso MX (second division) clubs. That's right, the Liga MX clubs that competed in the newly revamped tournament to crown a champion of Mexico all have bowed out. It's a big testament to the quality of play in Mexico and the success they have experienced through relegation. Keep in mind, Club Tijuana and Leon are the two most recent promotions from the Ascenso MX and both are top contenders for the first division title this season.
The Copa MX will continue tomorrow night with the following matches to see who'll play of Mexico's Cup.
Wednesday, October 24th
Dorados at Necaxa, 7:00 PM, Univision Deportes
Neza at Correcaminos, 9:00 PM, Univision Deportes
In case as a Dynamo fan, you want to pick a side and root for one of the second division teams, you may as well choose Correcaminos. The "Roadrunners" are an orange themed team, just like our good guys. What more do you need?
Relegation Getting Clearer
Finally, one team has just about sealed their fate for relegation at the end of the next short season in Mexico. Queretaro is 14 weeks into their season, and have yet to win a game (0-3-11). In Mexico, relegation happens after both tournaments are played - Apertura and Clausura - so a team won't be relegated until later in the year. The team with the worst point average over the last three season gets the boot down to the Ascenso MX. Queretaro (0.9268) currently holds that spot, while Atlas (0.9753) is not that far behind. Atlas sits on 11 points on the season, while Queretaro has only three.
Enjoy all 33 goals scored this week in Liga MX! (Keep an eye out for Toluca's 3rd goal from Tejada and Santos' goal from Peralta)