Here your five conclusions from Week 15 in Liga MX.
Xolos de Tijuana seal place in Liguilla and go top
Say what you want, but if it weren’t for his difficult temperament, Miguel Herrera would make a case for being the best Liga MX manager in the past year. On Friday, Xolos de Tijuana sealed a place in the Liguilla with a 2-0 victory and moved to the top of the league table in the process. It can’t be understated, Xolos de Tijuana lost arguably two of their best players this season, Dayro Moreno and Gabriel Hauche, and still, Miguel Herrera has found a way to reinvent this team and lead them to another Liguilla. Tijuana are now beginning to gather momentum, and make no mistake, they will be much hungrier and determined than last season.
Chivas’ fatigue and injuries becoming a concern
After earning Copa MX glory on Wednesday, Chivas faltered at the Estadio Azul, losing 2-1 to Paco Jemez’s Cruz Azul. There is no doubt Chivas are a tired and hurt team at the moment. Fatigue has taken a toll on several players, and injuries just seem to keep piling up for the Rebaño. There is no need for Chivas fans to press the panic button just yet, but this is certainly not the first time the team has looked tired down the stretch.
For now, Matias Almeyda and his coaching staff can at least look forward to having a whole week of rest. Currently, Chivas are fourth with 25 points, and a draw next week against Leon will be enough to clinch a place in the Liguila. Assuming they get a good result against Leon, it will be interesting to see if Almeyda decides to shut down his starters for the last week of regular season play, thinking ahead towards what would be a Liguilla of seismic proportions for the rojiblancos.
Guido Pizarro missed as Monterrey earn Clasico Regio glory
It was a great weekend all around for Rayados. For starters, the team won the Clasico Regiomontano over rivals Tigres by the score of 1-0. It was a deserved win, and one that ultimately sealed their place in the Liguila. In winning the local battle, they also added to Tigres’ midtable woes. Prior to the Clasico, the champions had gone on something of a positive run, but this defeat leaves them in ninth place and with destiny no longer in their hands.
The difference between both teams was largely the absence of Guido Pizarro. The defensive midfielder suffered a broken nose in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final, and Tigres were clearly missing him. It was painfully obvious Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s clever play from the back was missing its key constructor, and as a result, Tigres looked like an average team at best. To put it simply, Tigres are 100% better with Guido Pizarro on the field.
With the CONCACAF Champions Legue return leg coming up on Wednesday, Guido Pizarro’ presence will likely make all the difference again for Tigres. Ferretti will be hoping the Argentine international is ready to go, or it could be a frustrating night in Pachuca.
Veracruz earn massive win at Pumas
With three clubs now fighting an intense battle to avoid the drop, small margins can mean everything. That said, there was nothing small about Veracruz’s victory over Pumas on Sunday. In fact, it was a colossal victory for the Tiburones Rojos.
Veracruz started the day needing a win to move out of last place in the relegation table. The problem was that Veracruz arrived to a venue in which they hadn’t earned a win at in 15 years.
But after Dario Veron earned a silly red card in the first half, the Tiburones Rojos sensed blood, and with goals from Leandro Velazquez and Cristian Pellerano escaped Ciudad Universitaria with all three points. Sure, their path to survival still isn’t relatively straightforward, but if Veracruz managed to avoid the drop, they will likely look at this match as one of their key moments.
As for Pumas, it only keeps getting worse for the Universitarios who now run a real risk of missing out on the Liguilla.
De Buen the hero as Santos Laguna topple Club America
Santos Laguna remain one of the most unusual sides in all of Liga MX. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the league table, but in many ways, it is arguable that Santos is one of the best teams in all of Mexico. From a coaching and tactics standpoint, Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre has done a phenomenal job this season with Santos, but the problem is they haven’t found a way to turn their superiority into wins. In fact, Santos Laguna might be top of the league table right now if they were just able to hold on to results.
On Sunday, everything looked like it was going to end with Santos Laguna once again dropping two points, as Oribe Peralta powered las Aguilas to a late equalizer, when fortunes took a turn for the better for Santos. In literally the last second of play, America fell asleep in a throw-in, and Diego de Buen made no mistake to punish Ricardo La Volpe’s side and earn his side all three points.
Sure, Santos will continue to have plenty of doubters after this game, but one could say it is all part of this young team’s learning process. Chepo will no doubt call for better efficiency when the team gets back to work on Monday, but for now, they showed what they can be capable of against a Club America team that had not lost a game in their last five league matches.