This year's Apertura season in Liga MX brings a new definition to coming down to the wire. In the final weekend of matches between Mexico's finest, only four playoff positions are secure. The other four will spots will be decided over the next few days.
As Dynamo fans, we know what it's like to fight until the last weekend. This year, nine fan bases will be biting nails as their teams compete for four spots. Granted, a couple teams (like my poor Pumas) are mathematically alive, but the odds are next to impossible to get in. Roughly about seven of the clubs have an actual shot to get in.
That's the order they are in today, but even the top four will be fighting this weekend. While they have all clinched a playoff position, the top three clubs will receive a spot in the 2013 Copa Libertadores. Much is on the line and all four clubs would love to grab an invitation to South America's prestigious tournament.
Who's got a shot?
Cruz Azul, Morelia, Chivas, Santos, Jaguares, Monterrey, Tigres, Atlante, and Pumas. Atlante and Pumas need a few results combined with some serious goal scoring to help their goal differential, so more than likely they won't be challenging for a liguilla spot this season.
Here's a breakdown of the games that matter and the games you won't want to miss.
Toluca at Monterrey (Wednesday, 11/7)
Los Rayados are in the hunt, but they'll have to beat the most consistent team in Mexico to keep their dream alive. This is a makeup match from week 13, so Monterrey needs to make the most of this game in hand. Since the game is in Estadio Tecnologico, I think the home team will get a much needed win to help them inch closer to the playoffs, 2-1.
Santos at Morelia (Friday, 11/09)
The defending champions got a big win against against Cruz Azul last week that kept them from becoming the latest champion to bow out the following year. Against Morelia they will have a fight - both teams are fighting for a spot in the liguilla. I think Santos will come out on top, 2-1.
Monterrey at Cruz Azul (Saturday, 11/10)
Cruz Azul is stingy and Monterrey is dangerous. This could end up being one of the best games of the weekend. If Monterrey can get a result against Toluca on Wednesday, I think they will be a lock to grab a playoff position. If so, it's hard to bet against the talent they put on the field. For this one, I'm going with a 2-2 draw.
America at Tigres (Saturday, 11/10)
Tigres have been an up and down club all year and America is on a nice streak. Christian Benitez is tearing up Liga MX right now after just getting hat trick to give him 11 goals on the season. I don't think Tigres will be able to handle America, even at home. Look for America to prevail 3-1.
Jaguares at Pachuca (Saturday, 11/10)
Jaguares snuck into the liguilla on the last week of the season last year, but they'll have to win on the road and hope some of the other results go their way. Pachuca could be the most disappointing team of the season, but Hugo Sanchez will want to end the season on a high note considering their embarrassing 4-0 last last week. I'd expect to see a draw in this one, 1-1.
Tijuana at Chivas (Sunday, 11/11)
Chivas is desperate for a win to make the liguilla and will push for the victory with everything they have. They are offering ridiculous drink specials in their stadium to help drive fans to show up. It's a huge day for the organization after they've battled through an up and down season. It all comes down to this game, but unfortunately for Chivas, I think Tijuana escapes with a 2-1 win on the road.
Copa MX Crowns Champion in Grand Fashion
The Copa MX final took place on Halloween night, with Dorados winning in an instant classic over Correcaminos. The newly revamped domestic cup for Mexico turned out to be a success on a number of levels. While the longevity of the tournament in the current form is a topic of mixed opinions, the Copa MX offered us some memorable matches in Mexico between first and second division clubs. In fact, the Ascenso MX clubs knocked out the Liga MX clubs in the semifinals, making it an all quarterfinal and final affair for the second division.
In the end, Dorados needed a perfectly placed strike from their goalkeeper (that's not a typo), plus penalty kicks to defeat Correcaminos in a game more than worthy of being a final.
Dorados pushed all players forward for what would a final attempt to tie the game in the 92nd minute. Their goalkeeper Alfredo Frausto pushed forward and was able to find some magic to tie the game. You couldn't right a better storyline as Frausto ended up being the final penalty kick taker to seal the victory as well.
Here's the tying goal in the final minutes of stoppage time. Enjoy.
Dorados has been one of the better clubs in the Mexican second division, and currently employes Mexican legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Blanco, now 39, has added another piece of hardware to his name.
We'll see what the future holds for the Copa MX, but I for one enjoyed the cup and can't wait for the next one.