Here your five conclusions from the ninth week of play in the Liga MX Clausura.
Despite Hirving Lozano injury, Pachuca find firepower to beat Tijuana
If you are an every day Liga MX follower, then you won’t be surprised to know Hirving Lozano has been hit 300 times since 2014. Lozano has been the most influential Mexican player in recent Liga MX seasons, which is why he is the point of reference for many opposing defenses.
Lozano frequently struggles with some horrid takling, and Friday was no exception. In the early episodes of the match, Club Tijuana defender Michael Orozco stomped on Hirving Lozano’s ankle, provoking an open wound injury that made the rounds all over the internet. Thankfully, any fracture to Lozano’s ankle was ruled out, but the injury means Pachuca will be without their best player for at least a month.
It’s hard to argue against the claim that Lozano has been an outstanding asset for Pachuca since his debut, but Diego Alonso’s side is more than “Chucky”. Franco Jara and Jonathan Urretaviscaya always seem to relish their greater responsibility. Earlier in the day, the latter received the news that he will be called up for the Uruguay national team, and he showed exactly why, scoring a goal and assisting another.
Few of the Liga MX top teams can avoid a significant drop in quality when their best player is absent. Here, Pachuca not only went on to win 3-2, but they did it away against one of the best in the league, Xolos de Tijuana.
Cruz Azul finally find a way to win
Paco Jemez’s arrival to Mexico has posed him with difficult questions. After a feel-good start against Necaxa in Week 1, Cruz Azul’s season has had no shortage of exposed flaws. In fact, rumor has it that La Maquina were ready to start scouting for a replacement if Jemez suffered a defeat on Saturday.
That will have to wait as Cruz Azul bounced back from a missed penalty to defeat Chiapas 2-0. Angel Mena’s spectacular strike changed everything, and before you know it, Joao Rojas had made it 2-0 for the hosts.
Jemez is clearly building something here, and at this point, any progress is tangible. All that is required now is some consistency to ease some of the pressure on the coach.
Huge win for Monarcas Morelia over Veracruz
Veracruz’s glaring lack of firepower was apparent on Saturday, as Monarcas Morelia masterminded an important 1-0 win over the Tiburones Rojos. Veracruz have just scored five goals all season, and in a match where they needed to win, Carlos Reinoso’s men could not find a way back into the game after conceding a 71st minute penalty.
For Morelia, this was arguably their biggest win of the season. That’s because the three points were enough to catapult the Michoacan outfit above Veracruz in the relegation table. Of course, there is still quite a bit left in the regular season, but the Tiburones Rojos are now favorites to go down to Ascenso MX.
16-year-old Diego Lainez impresses for Club America
Ricardo La Volpe is always greeted with admiring words when speaking about his knack for developing young talent. La Volpe has largely been credited for helping develop players like Rafael Marquez and Andres Guardado, and many have assumed he has uncovered another gem in 16-year-old Diego Lainez.
With the score 1-0 in favor of Club Leon, Lainez made his debut for las Aguilas and produced many flashes that suggest he could become a great Liga MX player in the near-future. The look and feel of Club America changed completely when the 16-year-old came on, and even Leon defenders looked perplexed by how confident the youngster looked on the ball.
Unfortunately for las Aguilas, the best they could do against last-placed Leon, who played the majority of the game with ten men, was a 1-1 result. The result wasn’t catastrophic by any means, but the team now just has one win in their last five league matches. They are going to need more than a 16-year-old if they want to challenge for the title.
Alan Pulido fires Chivas to the top
In a day and age where there is a lack of Mexican forwards, it is imperative Mexican strikers make the most of their opportunity to impress. Of course, Chivas is a team that is 100% Mexican, but even their frontline has faced its struggles. Alan Pulido, in particular, has faced plenty of criticism for failing to hone his skills in front of goal.
But on Saturday, the 25-year-old striker scored twice to lead Chivas to a 2-0 victory over Toluca. It was a telling performance because, while no one could blame Pulido for his lack of effort, many have debated all season whether Pulido is ready to shoulder the scoring burden on a team that is one of the favorites to the win the title.
Noteworthy is the fact that both goals came from open play. That is especially important because Chivas have had trouble all season translating their dominance into goals. More performances like these from Pulido could do Chivas a world of good. For now, the Goats are league leaders, and looking down at the rest of the teams in the competition.