América climbs to No. 2 after clinching first-round bye
We’re down to the final weekend and one thing we can say with certainty is that León is the clear favorite to hoist the Guardianes 2020 trophy. We could also say that the Chivas find themselves in a fine mess, but we’ll address the on-field factors first.
The Esmeraldas have won seven in a row and are on a 13-game unbeaten streak (11-2-0). Red-hot León tops Liga MX with 12 victories, while second best (América and Cruz Azul) is 9 wins.
Naturally, León earned the No. 1 spot in the Playing for 90 Power Rankings, extending their run atop the rankings to six consecutive weeks.
More importantly, “La Fiera” has clinched the No. 1 seed throughout the Liguilla which means a first-round bye and they’ll host the return match in every playoff series they face.
América has also clinched a first-round playoff bye and eight other Liga MX teams have qualified for the postseason. Four teams – Toluca, FC Juárez, Puebla and Mazatlán – are chasing the last two wildcard spots.
Meanwhile, in Guadalajara the Chivas are demonstrating the fine art of self-destruction. Four players have been separated from the squad for violating team rules (specifically, partying it up after a win in violation of pandemic restrictions) and might not ever pull on a Chivas jersey again.
So, let’s get to the Power Rankings. The figure in parentheses after the team name reflects that club’s current position in comparison to the previous rankings.
1. León (—)
The Esmeraldas are simply the class of Liga MX. They wear down opponents by pressing the attack for 90 minutes. They scored twice after halftime against Santos to push their second-half goal total to 16 (out of 25 goals in all).
2. América (+4)
The Aguilas looked impressive against the Tigres, rising to the occasion to clinch a Top 4 seed and a first-round playoff bye. Goalie “Memo” Ochoa was back between the pipes after missing four games and coach Miguel Herrera has a nearly full roster at his disposal (striker Federico Viñas is currently sidelined with Covid-19) as América survived a mid-season injury bug.
3. Monterrey (+2)
The Rayados are hitting stride at the perfect time as they aspire to defend the Liga MX title they won back in December. A road win over the Chivas in their finale guarantees them a Top 4 seed and a first-round bye. Monterrey was perfect in October (5-0-0) and is on the verge of claiming its third Copa MX trophy.
4. Tigres (–2)
“Tuca” Ferretti appeared to have his Tigres roaring into the playoffs, but the mighty “Felinos” have stumbled. A shocking home draw with FC Juárez was followed by a humbling loss to América. These results could have cost the Tigres a Top 4 seed. Now, they’ll have to win against Atlas and hope the Chivas beat Monterrey or Cruz Azul fails to defeat the Pumas.