Here are your five conclusions from the fourteenth week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Apertura.
Santos Laguna keep climbing up the table
Playing Santos Laguna at the Estadio Corona has been problematic for Monterrey in recent seasons, and on Friday, they suffered yet another defeat, losing 1-0 to the Guerreros thanks to a 17th minute goal from Julio Furch.
Santos Laguna’s progression this season has been fun to watch, and when many argued the defending champions would collapse following the shocking departure of coach Roberto Siboldi back in August (remember the alleged fight he had with Gerardo Alcoba?), the Guerreros keep playing some of the best fútbol in all of Mexico and are starting to emerge as genuine contenders for the title.
Santos do have regular season games against Club América and Pumas UNAM still remaining, and while they don’t necessarily carry any dangerous consequences apart from possible Liguilla seeding, they are shaping up to be good barometers of how good this team can really be.
Pachuca are looking to sneak in
Speaking of progression, Pachuca refuses to go down without a fight. The Tuzos earned a 3-2 win over Veracruz at the Estadio Luis “Pirata” Fuente on Friday and now find themselves sitting one point away from eighth place Tigres.
You get the feeling Pachuca have just about enough to sneak into the Liguilla. Their remaining schedule is relatively straightforward (Necaxa, Atlas, and León), and under coach Pako Ayestaran, Pachuca remain tactically one of the more compelling sides in Liga MX. In other words, they have the potential of causing real damage in the Liguilla if they manage to break through.
Further Chivas woes
After falling 2-1 to Monarcas Morelia at the Estadio Akron, Chivas will need to win their remaining three games if they want to have any chance of making the Liguilla.
The Rojiblancos have long been expected to make the Estadio Akron a fortress in Liga MX, but their inability to win games at their home venue has brought more misery than success in recent Liga MX seasons. Chivas fans are starting to accept that this season will likely end in failure, and some are even calling for CEO Jose Luis Higuera’s head.
Assuming Chivas do fail to make the Liguilla, they will have all winter to fix things, with Toluca’s Alexis Vega rumored to be the team’s first signing. But for a team that frankly should be making the Liguilla every season, the truth is the team’s performances at home do not bode well for the future.
Clásico Joven ends in scoreless draw
Interest in this season’s Clásico Joven between Cruz Azul and Club América was higher than ever, but at the end, all we got as spectators was a scoreless draw. It was hardly a surprise. We are talking about two teams primed to be contenders for the title, playing in a stadium in which both teams haven’t lost a single game in this season.
Though Cruz Azul had the better arguments, it seemed like both teams were more than contempt with the final result. The draw kept Club América top of the league table, while Cruz Azul kept their unbeaten run at the Estadio Azteca alive for another week.
Of course, it’s not a stretch to believe these two teams could face off again in the Liguilla. If that’s the case, lets hope we get to see some actual scoring this time.
Patiño continues to show he belongs at Pumas
It is particularly striking how a team like Pumas UNAM continues to exceed expectations despite receiving very little endorsements from even their own fans. At one point, Pumas coach David Patiño was probably one of the most criticized individuals in Liga MX, but now we have reached the stage where no one is surprised by his team’s knack of getting ugly wins.
Patiño has dealt with everything with an enviable coolness, and following Pumas’s 1-0 win over Xolos de Tijuana, the Universitarios have now gone eight straight Liga MX games without a defeat. Not bad for a manager who started the season with his job in doubt.