With Round 15 now behind us, there are just two more weeks until the regular season closes and the Gran Fiesta of the playoffs begins.
While, per tradition, there’s still much to be decided in the final two weeks, we did get a bit more clarity this weekend about which teams look like they have a chance at the title and which teams will be beginning their offseason earlier than planned. Let’s take a look at what you may have missed from Jornada 15:
1. Santos sends Tigres tumbling out of playoff places
Tigres are the defending champion of Liga MX and have an impressive roster with foreign stars (Andre-Pierre Gignac, Nahuel Guzman, Rafael Sobis), Mexican internationals (Jurgen Damm, Javier Aquino, Jorge Torres Nilo) and a renowned coach (Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti). Yet despite the formidable squad, Tigres may not be able to defend their title after slipping to ninth this weekend, one point out of the postseason place.
Bryan Rabello’s opener gave Santos the lead, and though Juninho headed in an equalizer, Nestor Calderon converted a penalty as Santos Laguna used the 2-1 win to vault into third place.
The on-field action was enjoyable, less so a large fight that broke out between Tigres’ Supporters’ Group and Santos fans, with women and children caught in the middle of the fray. That has led to renewed calls for review of in-stadium security and further regulation traveling barrios.
2. Chivas continue undefeated streak with comeback draw
Chivas, the Mexican club that boasts the most supporters and continues to think of itself as the country’s most historic club, was stuck in the muck of a relegation battle just weeks ago. How things have changed. Now, Matias Almeyda’s men are on a five-match undefeated streak and instead of asking if Chivas are going down, the Mexican press is asking if Chivas can win it all.
That’s getting a bit ahead of things, as Saturday’s draw showed that Chivas still has its issues. Pachuca is one of the league’s strongest teams and scored a great goal in the 49th minute but probably should’ve been punished by Chivas more often (they conceded one goal and it came from the penalty spot).
3. Jorge Benitez scores amazing goal, but Cruz Azul still falls
Check out this goal by Cruz Azul’s young forward Jorge Benítez. The Paraguayan sends a back heel to a teammate in the box, gets it back near the goal line, sends one defender sliding, and then scoots the ball in from a difficult angle.
Unfortunately for Benítez and fans of Cruz Azul, the goal was not enough to beat lowly Veracruz, who earned a 2-1 victory. Not only that, but Cruz Azul now seems to be eliminated entirely from the Liguilla, barring a large reversal. It would be the fourth tournament in a row la Maquina, one of Mexico’s four grandes (big, traditionally successful clubs), misses postseason action.
4. Monterrey locks up Superlider spot with late goal
Heading into the weekend, Monterrey still needed a win to clinch a postseason spot. Their win this week not only sends los Rayados into the Liguilla with two weeks to spare but thanks to other results confirms that they’ll head into the postseason with the top seed.
Fighting against a Queretaro team still in the race only mathematically but coached by former Monterrey manager Victor Vucetich, Monterrey jumped out to a 2-0 lead after just 30 minutes of play. But Queretaro hit back, with Yerson Candelo continuing his hot streak and Angel Sepúlveda netting the equalizer moments later. But in the 85th minute, substitute Neri Cardozo was the beneficiary of an excellent pass from Dorlan Pabón and finished off a counter-attack that helped Monterrey clinch the Superlider position.
5. Left-for-dead Dorados defeat still-in-the-playoffs Morelia
Last week, I told you that with Dorados officially relegated to the second-division, we’d stop our weekly chronicle of how the Sinaloa side was doing. Well, last week I lied.
Despite having an already-sealed fate, the Gran Pez are still fighting, as shown by this weekend’s victory over Morelia. Las Monarcas are the most surprising team in the postseason places, and they remain as such despite losing to Dorados this weekend at Estadio Banorte. Monarcas still sit in seventh and Dorados are still relegated, but Five Thingd You Missour pals in Sinaloa keep showing fight.