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Liga MX Clausura Week 15: Honda driving Pachuca to Liguilla, Pumas keep the dream alive

Pachuca v Santos Laguna - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Here your five conclusions from the fifteenth week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Clausura.

Tijuana end winless run vs. Chivas

Xolos de Tijuana ended a six game winless streak across all competitions on Friday as they defeated a second string Chivas side 3-0 at the Estadio Caliente, albeit with two very controversial penalties. Chivas have had their eyes set on CONCACAF Champions League for a while now so it wasn’t surprising to see Matias Almeyda field a lineup full of youngsters for a second week running.

Despite their previous woes, Tijuana are firmly in the race for a spot in the Liguilla and currently hold the seventh spot in the table. The problem is they are a horrendous team away from home. In fact, they are yet to score a single goal away from the Estadio Caliente this Liga MX season.

Pachuca stay on course to qualify to the Liguilla

After thumping Puebla 6-2 last weekend, Pachuca followed up with a 3-1 win over Santos Laguna on Saturday. When it comes to a more entertaining team in Liga MX, look no further than the Tuzos. They have the best offense in the league, while also having the third worst defense.

Meanwhile, Keisuke Honda continues to be the heart and lungs of this team. The Japanese international has quietly been one of the best players this season, with seven goals and seven assists to his name, and looks fully integrated into Pachuca.

Games against Querétaro and Atlas still remain, but you have to like Pachuca’s chances of making the “Fiesta Grande”.

Club América decline continues

Club America seemed lost of form and confidence, as las Águilas failed to take advantage of a Monterrey red card in the first half to finish scoreless at the Estadio Azteca. América look like a frustrating side at the moment, and the only thing of note in the game on Saturday was arguably the performance of 17-year-old Diego Lainez. The Mexican youth international offered a spark every time he touched the ball but couldn’t turn the game in his team’s favor alone. The rest of the Club America attackers barely troubled a 10-man Monterrey, and the only sense of urgency from las Águilas came in added time. América have lost unpredictability and quality in recent weeks, and that’s without mentioning they were also eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday. Perhaps it is time to start questioning some of Miguel Herrera’s decisions?

Pumas keep Liguilla dream alive

Having gone eight straight league games without a win, Pumas came into their match against Puebla needing to win to have any chance of earning a place in the Liguilla. Win they did, and thanks to a hat-trick from Nico Castillo, the Universitarios were able to earn a hard-fought 4-2 victory.

There is no question that this season of Liga MX has suffered from a noticeable drop in quality. In no other league in the world can a team go eight straight games without a win and still have a chance at lifting the title. The Universitarios are currently 10th in the league table and just a point a way from eighth place Pachuca. To their credit, Pumas have played better than their results show, and in Nico Castillo, they have one of the best players in this side of the hemisphere.

Relegation battle may go until the very end

Veracruz failed to capitalize on another Lobos BUAP defeat, falling 2-1 to Club León on Sunday. After winning three straight, a late strike from Andres “Rifle” Andrade doomed the Tiburones Rojos, who still hold a small advantage over Lobos in the relegation table.

It is easy to get lost in the math, but if you want the simplest version possible in how the fight for relegation safety stands, here it goes.

  1. If Lobos BUAP win their remaining two games, they achieve safety. Plain and simple.
  2. On the other hand, anything less than two wins from Lobos BUAP means all Veracruz need is a win.
  3. If for whatever reason, both teams obtain less than three points from their remaining two games, which is entirely possible considering they will take on teams like Monterrey and Toluca (Lobos BUAP actually play local rivals Puebla in the final week), then it will be Lobos BUAP who get relegated.