Here your five conclusions from the second week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Clausura.
Relegation fears loom as Lobos BUAP fall again
Lobos BUAP were defeated by Queretaro at the Estadio Universitario BUAP on Saturday. It was their second successive defeat, and they are now more or less(it is complicated) just above Queretaro and Veracruz in the relegation table.
Make no mistake, this season for Lobos BUAP was always going to be about avoiding the drop, but they will be will be feeling a bit vulnerable after two straight defeats. The good news is Veracruz, who are actually last in the relegation table, lost again, Puebla were defeated by Monarcas Morelia, and Atlas look desperate to join the relegation party. Clearly, Lobos need an upturn in results, as they don’t need reminding of what happened to previous promoted teams like Dorados and Leones Negros.
Pachuca spoil Club America’s homecoming
Victor Guzman produced one of his trademark late goals on Saturday as Pachuca came from behind twice to rescue a 2-2 draw over Club America at the Estadio Azteca. Pachuca, whose early season struggles against Pumas suggested they would have a difficult game against las Aguilas, showed just enough resilience and even came close to winning the game near the end.
As ever, Keisuke Honda produced a top performance, but the difference was made in the second half after las Aguilas took the lead. Club America’s defense looked out of rhythm, especially Edson Alvarez, and las Aguilas eventually cracked under the pressure, leading to Guzman’s equalizer.
It goes without saying, it’s only the second game of the season, but one wonders, are Miguel Herrera and company are already missing Pablo Aguilar? For now, it is worth mentioning Jéremy Ménez and Andrés Ibargüen were not in the squad, as the Club America faithful wait patiently for their new stars to don the yellow and blue.
Captain America signs for Leon
Leon made all the news on Friday, as La Fiera shocked North American soccer fans by announcing the signing of USMNT legend Landon Donovan. The 35-year-old is coming back from retirement a second time and is joining a team that is red-hot after just two weeks. On Saturday, Leon ran over the Diablos Rojos, defeating them 3-1 for their second victory in a row.
Yes, Gustavo Diaz’s men are playing some of the best fútbol in Mexico, which begs one to ask where does Landon Donovan fit in this team? You would expect he no longer has the mobility or goal threat he used to have, while Luis Montes seems to have the attacking midfielder position nailed down.
Whatever the case may be, this is an intriguing signing for Leon, and admittedly, a great marketing decision by La Fiera’s ownership.
Caixinha gets first Cruz Azul win against Chivas
Chivas fans spent all of last season bemoaning their team’s inability to turn their dominance into wins. Well, after only two games, this season is shaping up to be very similar to the last one. On Saturday, the Rebaño Sagrado welcomed Cruz Azul to the newly named Estadio Akron. The result was a 3-1 victory for Pedro Caixinha and his Cruz Azul.
It is hard to argue Chivas weren’t the better team. Eduardo
“La Chofis” Lalo Lopez looked sensational in the first half, and Rodolfo Pizarro and Carlos Cisneros were a constant headache for Cruz Azul’s defenders. But at the end, Caixinha’s counterattacking tactics combined with some unfortunate refereeing decisions ultimately cost Chivas the game. It is now just one win in 17 league matches for the rojiblancos and things are starting to get worrying in Guadalajara.
Nico Castillo stars, Pumas go top
Nico Castillo produced another inspiring performance for Pumas as the team moved top of the league table with a 3-1 win over Atlas on Sunday. The Chilean continues to be the driving force of this team, leading all scorers with four goals after just two matches.
Selected alongside the experienced Matias Alustiza, Castillo is left free bully his way past defenders and run the game from the front. Few teams in Liga MX can boast of a talented player like Castillo. Atlas simply had no answer for him, and he showed his class and awareness throughout. When healthy, if there is one player to watch this season in Liga MX it is Nico Castillo.