SANDY, UT - APRIL 27: Humberto Suazo #26 and Abraham Carreno #13 of Monterrey Mexico celebrate their win over Real Salt Lake during the second half of the CONCACAF Championship game April 27, 2011 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Monterrey beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 to win the CONCACAF championship. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
The second weekend of the Apertura season was all about second-half performances. Leading the way were the Rayados of Monterrey who stormed back from a two goal deficit for a decisive 4-2 win over the visiting Tijuana Xolos. Also impressive in the second period were Cruz Azul coming back for a win, Toluca holding on down a man, and Pachuca clawing back for an important result on the road. Here we take a look back at these and other key performances from Round 2 in the Mexican Primera.
Rayados Flex Their Muscle
On Saturday night Monterrey showed the Tijuana Xolos just how hard life in the Mexican Primera can be. Midway through the first half at Estadio Tecnologico, it looked like Tijuana were possibly on their way to a shocking upset win over the Rayados. A brilliant strike from Dayro Moreno and a header from Joe Corona put the Xolos up 2-0 at the 30 minute mark. The lead wouldn't last, though. Monterrey grabbed one back just before halftime (courtesy of some poor defending by Tijuana), and then used a controversial penalty to equalize shortly after the break. And that’s when the Raydos stepped on the gas. In a one minute span Monterery showed why they're a championship-quality team. Humberto Suazo, fresh off Copa America duty with the Chilean national team, sent a ball through traffic to Walter Ayovi. Ayovi knocked it home, followed just seconds later by a breakaway goal from Cesar Delgado for a sudden and decisive 4-2 Monterrey lead. The sequence demonstrated the incredible power of the Rayados, who are now 2-0 and lead all teams with eight total goals scored. The real test for Monterrey now comes in Round 3. The team has looked great so far, but Monterrey's first two opponents (Jaguares and Tijuana) will both almost certainly finish in the bottom half of table. On Wednesday night we finally get to see what the Rayados are really made of, as they take on Pumas in a difficult road match at Estadio Olimpico.
Ten Devils, One Point
With an early strike from Ivan Alonso, Toluca looked to be on their way to a second straight win. Last week against Tecos it was Alonso scoring seven minutes into the match, and on Sunday against Club America he knocked in a goal this time just one minute after the opening whistle. One goal wouldn't be enough for the Red Devils, though, as Christian Benitez worked his usual magic for Club America at the other end. Twenty minutes after Alonso’s strike, "Chucho" proceeded to single-handedly break down Toluca’s defense before sending a perfect pass across the goal to a waiting Vicente Vuoso. With an easy tap in, Vuoso put the scoreline back level. Shortly thereafter, America caught a huge break as Toluca defender Edgar Duenas was shown two yellow cards in the span of 90 seconds. Duenas's exit appeared to be a turning point in the match. Without one of their key defenders, how could the Red Devils hold off "Chucho" and the America attack for over 60 minutes? It was a daunting task, but credit Toluca for doing just that. Manager Hector Hugo Eugui made an immediate defensive substation, bringing on Felix Araujo for Nestor Calderon. The move paid off, and with some incredible play from the Toluca backline -- especially Diego Novaretti and goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera -- Toluca hung on for an incredibly important, and considerably hard-earned, point at home.
For a team with so much attacking talent, Tigres sure have a strange way of playing to less than impressive results. Round 2 marked the second straight week that Tigres have played to a disappointing draw, this time in a scoreless match against lowly Queretaro. Yes it’s only been two games, but Tigres fans are right to expect much more from this team. One goal in two games just doesn't cut it when you're loaded with this much skill in the attacking third. To be completely fair, Queretaro goalkeeper Liborio Sanchez had an outstanding game in front of the net, and overall Tigres played better than last week, but still this team must find a way to score with consistency. Lucas Lobos certainly has to improve his performance as the team's playmaker if Tigres want to turn things around. Lobos is the singular key player on offense, and must do a better job of distributing the ball to Hector Mancilla and the other players up front. Edgar Pacheco is also still a bit of an unknown for this team. The talented, yet mercurial winger came on as a late sub against Queretaro, but was never able to get involved. It remains to be seen what role he will play for Tigres this season. Next up for Tigres is a match this week against a defensively sound Toluca side. Without continued improvements, Tigres fans may unfortunately be in for another offensive snoozefest.
It wasn't pretty -- in fact most of the first half was downright ugly -- but Pachuca somehow found a way to claw their way back to earn a result on the road against Puebla. In the early going, Puebla were by far the better team, with Duvier Riascos giving the Pachcua defense all kinds of trouble. Riascos scored the first goal of the match, set-up with a nice feed from DaMarcus Beasley, and Puebla were off and running. Pachuca's midfield play was a complete disaster, and Puebla managed to control possession for most of the first period en route to a 2-0 lead at the break. Things improved slightly for the Tuzos in the second half, but it wasn't until a Puebla defensive error in the 68th minute that Enrique Esqueda was finally able to get Pachuca on the board. With the tide slowly beginning to turn, Pachuca got a late equalizer courtesy of a Jaime Ayovi header, and somehow walked out of Estadio Cuauhtemoc with their first point of the year. It was an incredibly fortunate result for Pachuca considering the way the team played for most of the match. The point earned also shouldn’t mask the team's continued problems all over the field. If things don't improve quickly, Wednesday’s match against Cruz Azul could end up as an even uglier outing.
In a driving rain storm on Saturday evening in Mexico City, Cruz Azul earned an impressive and important come-from-behind victory over visiting Atlas. With second-half goals from Adrian Cortes and Emanuel Villa, la Maquina erased the one goal halftime deficit and earned their first win of the year. With four points in two games Cruz Azul are in great position. Playing without the suspended Chaco Gimenez and Jesus Corona over the first six games of the season, it was almost expected that this team would start slowly. Instead, they have positioned themselves firmly in the top half of the league standings. With winnable games coming up over the next four rounds (Pachuca, Atlante, Jaguares, Tijuana), Cruz Azul are in excellent shape to maintain their forward momentum until the return of Gimenez and Corona in Round 7.
Chivas Buck the Trend
Over the last five seasons, Jaguares have been a painful thorn in Guadalajara's side. Chivas have been outscored by Jaguares 10-1 during this recent stretch, and had failed to score a single goal against Jaguares in almost two full years. On Sunday at Estadio Omilife things looked to be headed in a similar direction. Early in the second half, Franco Arizala knocked a long shot off the crossbar, and Jackson Martinez used his head to follow up the loose ball into the goal. Unlike previous seasons, though, this time Chivas struck back. Later in the match Omar Arellano tapped in a corner kick, followed up minutes later by a skillful goal from Marco Fabian. The 2-1 win exercised the Jaguares demons, and more importantly positioned Chivas as one of just four teams in the league with two wins. Chivas now travel back to the U.S. for a friendly against Barcelona on Wednesday, before returning to league action next weekend in a tough match against Pumas.
Goal of the Week
The goal of Round 2 comes courtesy of Tijuana's Dayro Moreno. Playing in his first ever game in the Mexican Primera, the Colombian striker used an incredible touch to beat goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco and give the Xolos an early 1-0 lead over Monterrey. Tijuana ultimately couldn’t hold on for the win, but Xolos fans hope to see much more brilliance from Moreno over the course of the season. Moreno’s goal comes at 20 seconds into the clip below.
Round 2 Scoreboard
Cruz Azul 2 - 1 Atlas
Queretaro 0 - 0 Tigres
Santos 3 - 0 Atlante
Monterrey 4 - 2 Tijuana
San Luis 2 - 1 Estudiantes
Puebla 2 - 2 Pachuca
Toluca 1 - 1 Club America
Morelia 0 - 1 Pumas
Chivas 2 - 1 Jaguares