Mexico City claims bragging rights over Monterrey, Chivas falls to Pumas
MEXICO CITY -- The schedule makers for Liga MX graced us a fabulous tripleheader this weekend that had two Mexico City teams (Cruz Azul, Club America) face the two Monterrey squads (Rayados, Tigres) and Chivas host Pumas. The trio of matches headlined an exciting weekend in Mexican soccer in which 27 goals were scored across the entire league. Here's what we learned in Week 12:
1. "Chilangos" dominate "regios" in stellar fashion
Much was made of what this weekend represented in the supposed power shift that's been happening in Liga MX over the past few years. Tigres and Monterrey have combined for five league titles since 2010 while their Week 12 opponents, Cruz Azul and Club America, have only two.
Thus, the clamoring for the crowning of a "quinto grande" ("fifth big club") in Liga MX, would only be heightened if the Monterrey teams won their games this weekend against the old guard. However, both Mexico City teams handled their business, with Club America winning away at the Estadio Universitario for the first time in four years.
2. Cruz Azul regains top spot
Cruz Azul overtook Monterrey on Saturday to reclaim top spot in Liga MX but La Maquina had to be buoyed by a pair of huge events in order for that to happen. After Cesar Montes put the visitors ahead in the 16th minute from a Dorlan Pabon pass, Elias Hernandez buried a penalty kick to draw Cruz Azul level six minutes later.
Just a moment after that Monterrey's star striker, Rogelio Funes Mori, was sent off. With a one-man advantage, Cruz Azul wore their opposition down and Edgar Mendez provided the definitive goal late in the second half.
3. Club America end Tigres road woes
For the first time since 2014, Club America came away from the Estadio Univeristario in Monterrey with all three points. Undoubtedly the most entertaining match of the week, Bruno Valdez, Emanuel Aguilera and Guido Rodriguez -- all defensive players -- scored for Las Aguilas to counteract the home team's scorers, Luis Rodriguez and Andre-Pierre Gignac. The win means Club America is practically guaranteed a place in the postseason with 24 points.
4. Pumas officially ends Chivas' 36-year streak at home
Just ten days after beating Chivas in the Copa MX, Pumas trekked back to the Estadio Akron with their sights set on notching their second road win against the Goats and ending a league streak that dates back to 1982. Pumas hadn't won a Liga MX road game in Guadalajara against Chivas since the days of The Smiths, Ronald Reagan and the tail end of Cantinflas' film career.
After Isaac Brizuela opened the scoring for Chivas in the sixth minute, a win again seemed a tall order. Martin Rodriguez leveled 10 minutes after Brizuela's goal and Felipe Mora completed the comeback in the second half to give Pumas a hard-earned victory.
5. Bottom end of liguilla still wide open
Cruz Azul, Club America, Santos Laguna, Pumas and Toluca are all in the postseason barring a major collapse from any of them. That leaves Monterrey (20 points), Tigres (18) and Queretaro (16) as the only teams in true striking distance for any team not currently in the playoff picture. There is only a three-point difference between eighth-placed Queretaro and Leon, who sit in fourteenth after the weekend.
With such a limited amount of spots available, expect plenty of drama from clubs like Morelia, Tijuana, Pachuca, Chivas, Puebla and Leon who will jostle for positions over the final five weeks of the season.
6. Unexpected Lobos surge keeps rolling
Lobos BUAP has notched seven of their 11 points this season in the last three games. This weekend, a win against crosstown rivals Puebla would have put them just three points off the last playoff spot in the league.
The game was beyond entertaining as two clubs that genuinely do not like each other squared off. Leonardo Ramos opened up scoring for Lobos, but goals from Jonathan Espericueta (yes, him!) and Lucas Cavallini tipped the scale in Puebla's favor. Just 10 minutes from the end, Michaell Chirinos upped the drama by tying the score.
7. Late heroics for Morelia save the manager (for now)
Just a few days after Morelia manager Roberto Hernandez received the backing of team president Alvaro Davila, an 86th minute equalizer from Leon's Walter Gonzalez drew the ire of a sector of fans who wanted to see the manager ousted. But, a dramatic 89th minute winner from Miguel Angel Sansores gave Morelia its first Liga MX win in almost two months, vaulting them up the table to ninth and just outside the playoff zone.
8. Gignac and Furch keep Golden Boot battle alive
Both Andre-Pierre Gignac and Julio Furch scored in their respective league matches to remain ahead in the Golden Boot race with nine goals each. Furch's consistency this season has been admirable: the Argentine has scored in eight matches this season, with Santos grabbing points from seven of those games. Gignac, on the other hand, has limited most of his scoring prowess at home: he has scored seven of his nine at the Estadio Universitario including last weekend's strike against Club America.
9. International break drama ahead?
With the league pausing for the October FIFA friendlies, there are calls for managerial changes to be made in both Guadalajara and Puebla following some recent mediocre results. It's worth noting that of all the teams currently in the bottom third of the league, only Lobos BUAP, Chivas and Puebla have not made a change on the touchline. Will the break lead to more coaching moves?
10. W2W4 coming back from the break
If you can't wait for Oct. 19 and the resumption of Liga MX to get here soon enough, here's a tiny preview of what to expect when Liga MX comes back from the aforementioned international break: Queretaro will host Cruz Azul in what could be one of the most entertaining matches of the season. America will host Miguel Herrera's last squad, Club Tijuana at the Azteca and Pumas will take on Tigres for another Mexico City vs. Monterrey clash.