Last season’s Liga MX finalists in dire straits

Just a little over two months ago, León and the Pumas faced off for the Guardianes 2020 title. (Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images)
Just a little over two months ago, León and the Pumas faced off for the Guardianes 2020 title. (Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images) /
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Liga MX 6/7
Playmaker Rubens Sambueza (left) has Toluca sitting atop Liga MX with 13 goals through six games. (Photo by VICTOR CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images) /

Hard to believe, but Matchday 7’s marquee match-up featuring León at UNAM could prove to be a Waterloo of sorts for one of last season’s finalists. The two clubs each lost just a single game during the Guardianes 2020 regular season, but have lost 3 games each already.

UNAM sits in 13th place with a 1-2-3 record, riding a 4-game winless streak and a 380-minute goal-scoring drought. The Pumas’ last goal came in a Matchday 2 rout of Mazatlán FC, and the club has been shut out in five of their six games this season.

León, meanwhile, is even farther down the table – at No. 17 – with a 1-1-3 record (the Esmeraldas have a game in hand vs Monterrey from Matchday 3). “La Fiera” has been anything but ferocious, scoring just 4 goals in 5 games and getting shut out in 3 of them.

Neither the Pumas nor the Esmeraldas can afford to lose at the CU on Sunday and both will be desperate to claim the 3 points. While a loss won’t eliminate either team, it sure will make for a difficult road to the playoffs.

Liga MX leaders

At the top of the table are Toluca and América, both sporting 4-1-1 records.

The Diablos top Liga MX with 13 goals in 6 matches, but needed only 1 to slip past visiting UNAM on Sunday. That came from scoring leader Alexis Canelo who bagged his 6 th of the young season against former teammate Alfredo Talavera in minute 88.

“Los Choriceros” got quite a big break, too, when a seemingly legitimate goal by the Pumas was annulled despite questionable video evidence to support ref Luis Enrique Santander’s decision. The disastrous ruling pours more fuel on the growing fire of criticism targeting Liga MX refs. We’ll look more closely at controversial (inept) officiating in the coming days.

Second-place América has won two straight home games to keep pace with Toluca. On Matchday 5, the Aguilas battled to a 1-0 win over visiting Puebla with Memo Ochoa singularly responsible for the blank sheet. Ochoa was spectacular in his first game back since being diagnosed with Covid in mid-January.

On Saturday, América struggled to put away 10-man Querétaro (Gallos defender Alexis Doldán was shown a red card in minute 12), finally finding the winner in minute 84 off the foot of Henry Martín after a scramble in the goal mouth.

The Aguilas trail Toluca by virtue of the Diablos’ better goal differential (+8, to América’s +4).

Right on the heels of these two are the only undefeated Liga MX clubs – Xolos and Santos Laguna.