South of the Border: Liga MX, CCL, Relegation, and more

[Photo: MEXSPORT]

[Photo: MEXSPORT]

There are a number of storylines to follow south of the border. Here is a quick update on things happening in Mexico’s world of futbol.

Liga MX

The Mexican league is winding down and has just two weeks before the start of the liguilla (playoffs). Cruz Azul (33 points) and Toluca (31 points) continue to keep their spots at the top of the table, and the rest of the playoff picture is completely open.

Spots 3-13 are separated by just six points, creating a fun finish to the regular season. There will likely be a few teams shuffling around those spots and some heated battles heading into the final weeks.

A handful of next week’s matches have playoff implications with teams going up against each other where a result would be feel like a six point swing. Pumas and Chivas will play in Mexico City and the two teams are separated by just a single point, while Tigres and Leon are desperate for three points to move up the table and salvage their disappointing seasons.

With Cruz Azul and Toluca having a cushion in the standings, they’ll be able to focus on the CONCACAF Champions League, making it an even more entertaining final.

Relegation

It’s unfortunate when a team with a rich history of soccer finds themselves in the thick of a relegation batte. It’s more saddening when they can’t battle out of it.

With a 4-3 loss to Santos Laguna this weekend, Atlante will be heading to the Ascenso MX for the 2014 Apertura.

Atlante is a team that is just days shy of celebrating their 98th year of existence. After three league titles and two CCL titles, Los Potros will have to fight their way back to the first division starting in the next tournament.

While statistically they are on their way to relegation, Queretaro’s status past the end of the Clausura is uncertain considering the trouble their owner found himself in recently. If the league decides to end Queretaro’s existence, it is possible Atlante could receive another chance. Gallos Blancos future should be decided shortly after the end of the Clausura.

CONCACAF Champions League

Cruz Azul and Toluca are headed towards a fun final. Both teams sit at the top of the Liga MX table, and have been the best sides in the regional tournament.

Cruz Azul has struggled a bit getting road results and that could make it difficult for La Maquina to get the win in this series considering how difficult Estadio Nemesio Diaz has been historically. Tuesday night, the two will face off in Mexico City, and Cruz Azul likely need a big win to give themselves a chance.

This series could go either way, and fans should be in for one of the best CCL finals considering the way these two teams are currenlty performing.

Toluca last won the tournament in 2003 when it was played as the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, while Cruz Azul is the most successful club all time in the tournament. La Maquina has been crowned the region’s best a total of five times, and most recently in 2009 and 2010.

First Leg: Tuesday, April 15 (8:00 PM EST); Fox Sports 2 (English), Univision (Spanish)
Second Leg: Wednesday, April 23 (8:00 PM EST); Fox Sports 2 (English), Univision (Spanish)

Ascenso MX

Mexico’s second division of soccer isn’t that much of a topic until this time of year. As we approach the end of the Clausura, two teams will be highlighted as contenders for promotion to Liga MX. The winner of the Apertura was Leones Negros, a team based in Guadalajara. They’ll face the champions from the Clausura for the right to play in Mexico’s first division next season. Of course, the Black Lions would punch a ticket straight into Liga MX if they defend their title by winning the Clausura playoffs. The playoffs kick off this week, so time will tell.

Luis Angel Landin celebrates after a goal for Mexican second division side Ballenas Galeana.

Luis Angel Landin celebrates after a goal for Mexican second division side Ballenas Galeana.

On the flip side of things, Ballenas Galeana was able to breathe a big sigh of relief as a narrow 1-0 win this weekend saved them from relegation to the third division.

Why would this matter to our readers?

Well, a certain former Designated Player for the Houston Dynamo currently suits up (and occasionally scores) for Las Ballenas, Luis Angel Landin. The once hefty striker has gone from a Major League Soccer DP to nearly playing in Mexico’s third division. Yikes.

More to come next week after another fun round of Mexican soccer is played.

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