As you know, Keeper Notes is all about soccer – not just the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash. This will be the first of many Liga MX articles covering soccer south of the border.
Liga MX just wrapped up Week 11 and the standings couldn’t be closer at the moment, setting up a fun run towards the finish of the Clausura.
Cruz Azul (9-1-1) sit on top with 28 points, while Toluca (8-2-1) is keeping it tight with 25 points in second. After that, the standings are wide open with just five points between third and fourteenth in the standings.
Pumas have control of third with 18 points, Pachuca fourth with 17 points, and then Santos, America, and Chivas all have 16. It’s typically like this in the Mexican league with fans getting to enjoy a wild finish in the latter weeks of the tournament.
Here is a quick recap of each match last week plus three games to watch in the upcoming weekend at the end of the article.
Friday, March 14
Queretaro 0-2 Toluca
Queretaro held off the Red Devils for as long as they could, but eventually Toluca overpowered their opponents on the way to a 2-0 win. Pablo Valazquez scored his sixth goal of the season in the 65th minute and teammate Edy Brambila added an insurance goal five minutes later for Toluca. Former MLS Golden Boot winner Camilo Sanvezzo got his first start for Queretaro. While the young striker battled fitness and injury for the start of the season, his team is surrounded by turmoil after the owner is being investigated for fraud, reports say the players aren’t receiving pay, and the government has taken control of the team. This loss is likely the least of Queretaro’s worries.
Saturday, March 15
Cruz Azul 2-1 Club Tijuana
La Maquina is rolling through competition in Mexico, currently sitting in first place. Marco Fabian continues to shine since Chivas loaned the midfielder to Cruz Azul. Fabian scored both goals and now has six on the season. If you didn’t see the highlights, you’re missing out. Fabian is recapturing the form he had a few season ago and is aching for Miguel Hererra to notice him ahead of the World Cup. Is it enough for Fabian? Is it enough to get Cruz Azul out of their championship drought (since 1997)? Only time will tell.
Veracruz 0-1 Atlas
This game was one of those that gets overlooked on the schedule, but had big implications. Both Veracruz and Atlas are just a bit safer than Atlante in the relegation standings, so every point counts. With the win, Atlas pushed Veracruz closer to Atlante and the last six weeks will be important for all three clubs.
Monterrey 0-1 Morelia
Most would agree both Monterrey and Morelia have had a disappointing Clausura, but Rayados have hit a new low. With the loss, Monterrey is now tied with Veracruz for bottom of Liga MX with just nine points in 11 weeks. With two consecutive wins, Morelia has crept up into a playoff spot, but keeping it will be challenge.
Santos Laguna 3-1 Pachuca
It’s hard to tell if Pachuca is a serious contender, but Santos has looked like one in their last two outings. After defeating Club America last week 4-2, Santos scored another three goals this weekend. All three goals were scored by different players, a common theme in the Clausura for the team. Through 11 weeks, Javier Orozco leads the team with four goals, while Oribe Peralta, Darwin Quintero, and Andres Renteria all have three.
Chiapas FC 2-2 Club America
Things just haven’t been the same for the mighty Aguilas since Miguel Hererra left the head coaching post to join the Mexican National Team. On the surface, the coaching position could have a slight impact on the results, but the truth is America has never been able to replace Chucho Benitez in the attack. Raul Jimenez has three goals thus far, but a striker of Benitez’ quality would easily be in contention for the goal scoring lead in Mexico. Times are changing for Club America, and this season even the playoffs aren’t a given if they can’t figure out a way to win.
Sunday, March 16
Puebla 0-1 Tigres
Monterrey’s other team, Tigres, are slowing gaining momentum without many noticing. In league play, Tigres are now unbeaten in their last seven games and have quietly climbed just one point out of playoff positioning. It’s hard to believe how quickly the club turned their negative attention around, and now could be a team to watch out for. Puebla on the other hand is hurting their chances of staying in the first division. Maybe not this season, but next year’s relegation battle is sure to include the struggling club.
Pumas 5-0 Atlante
Atlante just didn’t need a result like this. After clobbering Queretaro last week, hopes were high, but after getting outplayed for the entire 90 minutes on Sunday, things are back to square one. With the loss, Atlante holds tight to the spot that would see relegation with just six games left. Pumas on the other hand, continue to impress and have sole control of their place in the Liga MX standings. Not only that, Martin Bravo leads the Mexican league in scoring with nine goals. Who would’ve thought?
Chivas 1-0 Leon
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just last week, Leon visited Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as the current champions of the league. Currently though, the team sits in a mediocre tenth spot in the standings and is struggling with balancing the league and Copa Libertadores. Chivas has quietly climbed into a playoff spot with 16 points after the win and are trying to salvage their season (again). In all honesty, Chivas could be in the relegation mix for 2015 so every point counts.
In Week 12, there are few matches to keep an eye on. Here are my top three picks for the weekend and why you shouldn’t miss them.
Morelia vs Santos Laguna | Friday, March 21 | 9:30 PM EST
Morelia is desperate to salvage their season after spending good money to improve their squad in the offseason. A couple of good results have them right on the outside of the playoffs with time running out. Santos is mixed in the middle of the table and in an area where a loss could see them drop out of the playoff spot with other results not going their way.
Club Leon vs Cruz Azul | Saturday, March 22 | 10 PM EST
The current champs can’t be all that bad and at any moment are capable of recapturing their form. Cruz Azul looks to be the most complete team in the league and Marco Fabian’s emergence this season is something that’s fun to watch. Likely the game of the week if things go as planned.
Atlas vs Chivas | Saturday, March 22 | 11 PM EST
Neither team is really worth watching this year, but put them together for a clasico and why not. The two Guadalajara teams will face off in the Clasico Tapatio in Estadio Jalisco on Saturday night.