Here are the three biggest takeaways from Jornada 8 Ascenso MX action.
Top of the Table Atlante
Los Potros de Hierro, one of Mexico’s oldest and most historic teams, have struggled mightily since being relegated to the 2nd division of professional fútbol back in 2014. Inconsistent performances, failure to regularly pay players, managerial changes and one runner up finish has been the story of Atlante since they were relegated. To make matters worse, the club was stripped of its ability to be promoted to Liga MX this past offseason for failing to meet the requirements deemed necessary for promotion by the Liga MX and Ascenso MX leadership.
Most pundits, writers, and fans figured that Atlante would struggle mightily this season. Instead, los Portos de Hierro have been the biggest surprise of the 2018 Apertura season through the first seven jornadas of action. Atlante finds themselves in first place on 18 points with a record of 6-0-1. Not only are they in first place, but los Potros de Hierro have been playing some of the best fútbol out of any team in the Ascenso MX. Forward Lizandro Echevería is currently the league’s leading scorer with five goals.
In their match against los Dorados de Sinaloa, Atlante was able to grind out a 1-0 result thanks to a late goal from Lizandro Echevería. The match was just another indication of how well Atlante has been playing this season. For the vast majority of the match, los Potros looked absolutely hapless. However, the team from Cancún was able to get the result when it mattered most.
FC Juárez extends unbeaten run to seven matches
Los Bravos de FC Juárez have gotten off to a dream start of life under the direction of new head coach Gabriel Caballero. The former Mexican National Team player has helped to guide the team from the northern frontera to a 5-2-0 record good enough for 17 points and second place in the league standings.
The additions of Edy Brambila, Gabriel Hachen, Cristian Pérez, and Enrique Palos this offseason have made a massive difference for FC Juárez. The addition of these players combined with the coaching style of Caballero has taken los Bravos from being an inconsistent team to one of the best in the Ascenso MX after just seven jornadas of action. The improvement these new players and coach have made fro FC Juárez is immense and can be seen both in their record and whenever they step on the pitch.
In their last match against Atlético de San Luis, los Bravos played as an organized unit and punished the visitors for making a defensive mistake in the 27th minute. Edy Brambila stepped up to take a free-kick on the edge of the area after a reckless foul from San Luis on the edge of the box. Brambila fired an unstoppable shot over the wall and into the top lefthand corner of the goal to extend his side’s unbeaten run to a seventh match.
The current undefeated streak is the best start to league play in FC Juárez’s short history.
Promotion eligible sides struggle
The Leones Negros de la U de G and Dorados de Sinaloa were two of the promotion eligible teams that want pundits, writers, and fans expected to be competing for the 2018 Apertura crown in the Ascenso MX. Instead, both squads are floundering at the bottom of the table with little hope of turning things around in order to sneak into the liguilla.
For the Leones Negros, it is a case of missed opportunities that has lead the team to the bottom half of the Ascenso MX table. Of their four losses this season, every single one has been decided by a single goal. In several of those matches, the winning goal was conceded late in the match leaving Leones Negros with little time to try and salvage anything from the match. However, things are starting to look up for the side from Guadalajara after the registered their first win of the season against Tapachula during their last match.
In the case of Dorados de Sinaloa, it was off season decisions that derailed the 2018 Apertura before it even got started, The club directors decided to sell team captain Gabriel Hachen to FC Juárez and nothing has been the same for Dorados sense. Through their first six matches of the season the squad from Sinaloa is still without a win. They have a record of 0-3-3 for a total of three points and a goal difference of -5. At the moment, Dorados’ goal difference is the only thing keeping them from being bottom of the table.
Something is going to have to massively change if either of these squads are going to have any chance of making the liguilla and competing for the Ascenso MX title.