Two rounds in the books, and top of the table in the Mexican Primera is…San Luis? Alone in first place, San Luis are not just the only team with two wins, but they are also the league’s only team yet to concede a single goal. The ascendancy of San Luis wasn't the only surprise of the weekend, though. Other action included Tijuana stunning Monterrey with a late goal, Jaguares putting the hurt on Chivas in Chiapas, and Toluca coming up just short of an upset of America at the Estadio Azteca.
The usual packed house at Tijuana's Estadio Caliente greeted the Xolos for their home opener on Saturday evening. The occasion also marked the team's fifth anniversary, and fittingly Tijuana turned in a match to remember. Their opponents, Monterrey, won decisively over Jaguares in week one, but Saturday's outing would prove significantly more difficult. Tijuana went toe to toe with the visiting Rayados from the opening whistle, and until the last tick on the clock never backed down.
Monterrey picked up the pace as the game wore on, but the visitors could never find the elusive goal. One factor hurting the Rayados was certainly the absence up top of injured striker Aldo de Nigris. Approaching full time the game looked destined for a scoreless draw, but Tijuana proved to have other ideas. As the final seconds of the match ticked away, a free kick from Leandro Augusto found the head of Javier Gandolfi in the box. The Tijuana defender knocked it perfectly past Monterrey's Jonathan Orozco and into the back of the net, setting off an eruption from the home fans as the final whistle sounded.
It was an incredible ending, and another great result for a team still looking to move out of relegation danger. Amazingly, it was also Tijuana's tenth match in a row without a loss. Since taking over in late September, manager Antonio Mohammed has led the team to three wins and seven draws. Tijuana still has significant work left to clear themselves from the relegation zone, but so far Xolos fans couldn't have asked for a better start to the new season.
Cursed in Chiapas
After a disappointing opening round, Chivas looked to get back on solid footing in week two. Unfortunately for them, week two also included a trip to Chiapas -- a place where Chivas has historically had all kinds of trouble. With only one win ever at Estadio Victor Manuel Reyna, Chivas hoped this would be the year their luck in the jungle would change. Alas, that would not be the case.
Jaguares pounced on Guadalajara early in the match, following a long free kick from Edgar Andrade. Andrade's ball into the box deflected perfectly to the feel of Yasser Corona, who knocked it home for the early Jaguares lead (and celebrated -- how else -- by pointing to his Twitter handle on the back of his jersey). Chivas would come back and tie the game early in the second half, with Hector Reynoso knocking in a Marco Fabian free kick, but that would be the last high point of the match for the visitors.
In the 63rd minute, a scramble in the box would lead to a goal from Jorge Rodriguez. That was followed up nine minutes later by a header from Jackson Martinez to give Jaguares a 3-1 advantage. If that wasn't enough, things would further fall apart for Chivas in the closing minutes as both Jorge Enriquez and Hector Reynoso were shown red cards (Reynoso’s card coming after an especially brutal elbow to the head of Martinez).
The loss not only leaves Chivas near the bottom of the standings, but also leaves several lingering questions for the team's fans. One big question is obviously the ultimate fate of manager Fernando Quirarte. Some of his personnel decisions for the match against Jaguares were especially curious, including Dionicio Escalante starting instead of Miguel Ponce at left back, and a central midfield of Xavi Baez and Edar Mejia. Of even greater concern, though, is the upcoming Copa Libertadores. If this Chivas team wants to compete in two competitions (or at this point, even just one), some significant improvements must be seen in the coming weeks.
Back on the Prowl
Searching for their first win of the season, Pumas took advantage of a few Morelia miscues to cruise to a 3-0 victory. The scoreline, though, probably indicates a much more one-sided game than we actually saw on Sunday in Mexico City. In fairness, Morelia actually played a solid game in the midfield, but had trouble in their attacking third, as well as some unfortunate errors on the backline.
The home team got off to a flying start in the opening minutes, as a Morelia giveaway led to an easy goal from Pumas striker Juan Carlos Cacho. It was an even more glaring error, though, that would lead to the second Pumas goal. An extremely ill-conceived back pass from Marvin Cabrera to goalkeeper Frederico Vilar was intercepted, and after a scramble in the box Martin Bravo knocked in the loose ball for the 2-0 Pumas first half advantage. Pumas would hold onto the lead after the break, later adding a third to their total courtesy of Eduardo Herrera.
However the goals came, they were a welcome relief for a Pumas team that has had all kinds of trouble scoring of late. Dating back to last season this was the first time in eight games that the team scored more than one goal. The win was also welcome relief for a team that uncharacteristically missed out on the playoffs last season. Pumas now look to keep this newfound positive momentum going into next weekend’s road match against Monterrey.
In the final game of the weekend, a large crowd at Estadio Azteca welcomed Club America for their home opener against Toluca. The welcome was especially warm as America was coming off a solid victory over Queretaro in week one (significant for a team that won just three games total last season). Against Toluca, America again looked like the better team for most of the match, dominating possession and using their speed advantage in the attacking third. The Aguilas, though, just couldn't find a way to break through the Red Devils back line and get on the scoreboard.
After a 0-0 first half, it was Toluca that would get on the board first. In the 56th minute a cross from Antonio Rios bounced in the box, where Ivan Alonso extended his legs around America defender Juan Carlos Valenzuela to knock the ball in. The impressive effort from Alonso kept up the Toluca striker's red hot start to the Clausura -- coming on the heels of his two goal outing last week against Tecos.
Just when it looked like Toluca would hold on for the road win, a controversial referee decision again raised its head. Late in the match, a ball from America's Rolfi Montenegro deflected off the shoulder of Toluca defender Diego Novaretti in the box. In an absolutely confounding decision, referee Erim Ramirez immediately whistled for a free kick as the Toluca players went ballistic around him. When order was restored, Vicente Vuoso converted the gift of a penalty, and America escaped with the draw. It may have been a lucky ending, but the result still failed to give the Aguilas a much-needed win at home. America has now failed to win a match at the Azteca since August 21st of last year, an almost unheard of six game streak at home without a win.
Elsewhere Around the League
On Friday night San Luis won their second straight match, a two-goal shutout win over Tecos on the road. In other Saturday action, young Marco Bueno powered Pachuca to a 3-1 victory over Puebla, Cruz Azul took down Atlas on the road, Tigres narrowly beat Queretaro 1-0 at home, and Santos proved too much for Atlante at a wet Estadio Andres Quintana Roo.
Round 2 Scoreboard
Tecos 0 - 2 San Luis
Jaguares 3 - 1 Chivas
Pachuca 3 - 1 Puebla
Tigres 1 - 0 Queretaro
Tijuana 1 - 0 Monterrey
Atlas 0 - 2 Cruz Azul
Atlante 1 - 2 Santos
Pumas 3 - 0 Morelia
America 1 - 1 Toluca