It seems each and every year, Mexican clubs put on a show in the final stretch of the season as a number look to make the liguilla. The 2013 Clausura is no different. After this weekend's action, 10 weeks are in the books and playoff picture couldn't be hazier.
Tigres, Atlas, and America sit atop the Mexican table, but below them spots 4-13 are separated by just six points. With seven weeks left before the start of the liguilla, each and every game matters and could be pivotal in the standings.
Club America, having momentum from a big win last week, couldn't capitalize on their opportunities against Morelia. Las Aguilas outshot Morelia 19-10, while controlling the possession of the match 61%-39%. Chucho Benitez and Hector Mancilla traded goals for their clubs as they played to a 1-1 draw.
Santos Laguna, who'll face off with the Dynamo on Wednesday, continued their great form with their third win in a row. Los Guerreros beat bottom dweller Atlante 2-1 behind goals from Oribe Peralta and Herculez Gomez. Santos, who won the Clausura 2012 but missed the liguilla in the Apertura, look to be reclaiming their form and appear to ready to challenge for the top spot in Mexico again.
Elsewhere, Cruz Azul and Jaguares played out to a 1-1 draw in Estadio Azul, while Monterrey beat Leon at home 2-1. In the liguilla race, both Cruz Azul and Monterrey currently sit on the outside looking in.
Queretaro, who are trying to starve off inevitable relegation to the second division, got a huge upset victory in Estadio Caliente against Club Tijuana. The Xolos rarely drop points at home, but Queretaro forward Wilberto Cosme notched a 33rd minute goal to give the visitors a 1-0 victory.
Tigres continue their dominance in this year's tournament, getting a win on the road against San Luis. While their 2-1 victory kept them undefeated through ten weeks, the big story of the weekend was how 23,000 of their fans made the 300 mile trip to support their club. With the win, Tigres are now 7-3-0 on the year and sit at the top of the table with 24 points.
While Tigres have been impressive, there is no bigger surprise than a team from Guadalajara. No, not the Goats - they are still the Goats. I'm talking about Atlas, who at the start of the season was going toe to toe with Queretaro in the relegation battle. A couple of offseason moves, and Atlas now sit right behind Tigres and look to be serious contenders. Atlas proved to be too much for Toluca on Sunday and grabbed a 1-0 win on the road to improve to 7-2-1.
The other team from Guadalajara hasn't been bad this year, but just hasn't been able to turn draws into wins. Chivas has only lost one match on the season, but have six draws. On Sunday, Chivas got a big 1-0 win over Pachuca in Estadio Omnilife. The win puts them in the 8th and final playoff spot after the weekend's results.
Both Puebla and Pumas were in the middle of the fight for a playoff spot coming into their Sunday showdown, and only one still holds a spot. Despite controlling 60% of the possession and outshooting Puebla 18-10, Pumas appeared headed for a draw. Martin Bravo was able to save the day for the blue and gold by redirecting a shot to the corner of the net in the 89th minute. It was a huge win for the Pumas who went from 8th to 5th in the standings.
After ten weeks, Tigres' Emanuel Villa still leads all scorers with 8 goals, but Chucho Beneitez (America) is closing in on the injured star with 7. Luis Gabriel Rey (Chivas), Oribe Peralta (Santos), and Lucas Lobos (Tigres) all have six.
If you had to pick 3...
Santos Laguna at Atlas
Both of these teams have something to prove. Atlas, starving off relegation at the start of the year, is trying to prove they are a real contender. Santos, one year removed from a championship, are trying to reclaim that form that eluded them in the Apertura. With Santos playing a CCL match on Wednesday against Houston, fatigue could be a factor. I think Atlas will pull away with a home victory in this one.
Monterrey at Club Tijuana
Monterrey is desperate to get back on track in Liga MX and currently are on the outside of the liguilla race. Tijuana has been focused on the Copa Libertadores and have lost two straight league games. It's tough to get a result in Estadio Caliente, and I think these two clubs will play out to a draw.
Leon at Pumas
At this point, it's safe to call Leon's success last season a bit of luck. Even with a couple of personnel upgrades, the Panzas Verdes have only been able to get one win on the season. Pumas are rounding into form and look to establish themselves as a contender. CU is a tough place to win at times and I see Sunday's matchup no different. Pumas will continue to climb the table while handing Leon another loss.