Power Rankings: Pumas reach Liga MX summit

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Liga MX Power Rankings 8

Carlos González of Liga MX club Pumas is mobbed by teammates after scoring against Puebla. (Photo by CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images)

UNAM is lone unbeaten Liga MX club, Chivas get big win

Eight games into the Liga MX season and we’re looking at a “King of the Hill” free-for-all in which no team is capable of staying on top.

Previous No. 1 club Cruz Azul got tossed off the summit after a listless loss at lowly Atlas. León is atop the Guardianes 2020 table but is scoring just a goal a game. UNAM is the lone unbeaten Liga MX team but nobody expects them to stay in contention for a first-round playoff bye. Yet here we are.

Still, we’re not yet halfway into the schedule so there’s plenty of time for these rankings to shake up even further. Toluca has plummeted 15 spots in two weeks, while Puebla and Querétaro have yo-yo’d up and down the rankings. And they are not alone in displaying inconsistency.

Evidence of the league-wide erratic play is that four coaches have been fired already – two this past weekend (Guillermo Vázquez at Atlético de San Luis and Alfonso Sosa at Necaxa) – and another hanging by his shoestrings.

Matchday 9 is fast approaching (five games on Tuesday, four games on Wednesday) and Matchday 10 follows on the weekend, so these rankings will be tested quickly.

As always, the figure inside the parentheses indicates a team’s movement compared to the previous rankings. The second line features the club’s record, points, goals for and goals against.

1. Pumas (+4)

4-4-0, 16 points, 15 GF, 7 GA

Benching Carlos González might have been the best decision coach Andrés Lillini has made all season. The Paraguayan striker came on as a sub against the Tigres on Aug. 22 to score the equalizer in minute 90+1 and has found the net in both games since returning to the starting line-up. Fullback Alan Mozo got back on the field after a one-game suspension for disobeying health protocols, too. The acquisition of veteran keeper Alfredo Talavera could turn out to be the best move by any club in Liga MX.

2. León (+2)

5-2-1, 17 points, 8 GF, 4 GA

The Esmeraldas sit atop the table but have not hit their stride yet. Averaging just one goal a game despite generating plenty of opportunities could prove to be a weakness come playoff time. Midfield general Luis Montes is playing at MVP level but coach Ignacio Ambriz can’t find a strike partnership that can put the ball in the net.

3. Cruz Azul (–2)

5-1-2, 16 points, 14 GF, 6 GA

The Cementeros loss at Atlas Saturday ranks as one of the biggest upsets of the Liga MX season. The “Máquina Azul” looked anything but machine-like, generating 15 shots but only two were on target and neither really tested Zorros goalie Camilo Vargas. Orbelín Pineda coughed up the ball too much in midfield and the forwards were not able to find space in the final third. A lackadaisical performance.

3. América (+1)

5-1-2, 16 points, 17 GF, 12 GA

The Aguilas are doing enough to win, but that’s not good enough for the América faithful and coach Miguel Herrera is getting buried in (unwarranted) criticism. Injuries – especially on the back line – have slowed the team’s progress and “El Piojo” is just now getting the opportunity to work playmakers Nicolás Benedetti (knee injury) and Sergio Díaz (recent acquisition) into his line-up.

5. Pachuca (+1)

4-2-2, 16 points, 11 GF, 8 GA

The addition of Leo Ramos gives the Tuzos a glut of offensive options and coach Paulo Pezzolano will have fun filling out his the line-up card, especially since the dangerous Víctor Dávila seems to be fully fit. Youngster Erick Sánchez is playing well in midfield and it’s only a matter of time before Víctor Guzmán forces his way back onto the field.

6. Monterrey (–3)

3-3-2, 12 points, 13 GF, 10 GA

The Rayados had put the disastrous – winless (0-5-5) – Clausura behind them. Or so we thought.  A season-opening victory was followed by a loss and three draws before Monterrey put together a 2-game “winning streak.” They promptly regressed Friday at Tijuana, humbled 2-1. They’ll get a chance for revenge this month when the two tangle in the Copa MX Final (Sept. 16 in Tijuana; Sept. 23 in Monterrey.

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