Matchday 8 offered plenty of surprises – all three winless teams picked up their first victory – and several underwhelming performances by Liga MX playoff “contenders.”
The compressed World Cup qualifying schedules during the September FIFA break is largely to blame as many returning international players were relegated to the bench, making for some depressing viewing for Liga MX fans.
The results did not dramatically alter our Power Rankings, although they did make it difficult to fill out slots 6 through 10 because so many teams played like they belonged in the bottom half of the Liga MX table.
That being said, the coming week offers two can’t-miss contests (No. 1 América at No. 2 Toluca, and the No. 4 Tigres at No. 6 Monterrey).
Without further ado, let’s get right to the Rankings. A reminder: the figure inside the parentheses indicates that team’s movement with regard to the previous rankings.
First-place Aguilas rule Liga MX roost
1. América (—)
Two words: ruthlessly efficient. Aguilas fans would love to see their beloved team play with more flair, but Santiago Solari has installed a pragmatic system based on strong defense (fewest goals allowed among all Liga MX teams – 3). They also reached the Concacaf Champions League final though that does not figure into these rankings.
2. Toluca (+3)
The Diablos overcame a 1-0 deficit on the road, nailing the winner in minute 89. They can highlight their status as contenders with a home win over América Sunday.
3. León (–1)
The Esmeraldas squandered points in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw vs the Tigres. Up 2-0 just before the half, Angel Mena missed a penalty kick that could have clinched the match.
4. Tigres (–1)
Coach Miguel Herrera’s squad could have folded up the tent, down 0-2 to a strong León side and playing without the top scorer in Liga MX (Nico López – 6 goals), they fought back and claimed a split of the points.
5. Atlas (+3)
The Zorros are a well-balanced team, but they beat Monterrey with the help of the refs. The Rayados saw one goal annulled and then Atlas’ equalizer featured an offside and a handball, neither of which was called.
6. Cruz Azul (—)
The champs simply must get used to playing short-handed, with nine international players who require rest after respective national team duty. Coach Juan Reynoso has been juggling his line-up furiously but with little success, and a Cementeros title repeat seems more and more unlikely.
6. Monterrey (+1)
The Rayados have also suffered from player fatigue (three starters held out of starting line-up against Atlas after logging heavy minutes during the FIFA break). Coach Javier Aguirre could find himself in hot water if Monterrey fails to win Sunday’s “Clásico Regiomontano,” arguably the best derby in Liga MX.
8. Santos (–2)
Injuries and absences are preventing the Guerreros from executing the non-stop pressing style preferred by coach Guillermo Almada. A return to the finals will require the healthy return of Eduardo Aguirre and Carlos Acevedo.
9. Guadalajara (—)
The Chivas are in turmoil (in both the locker room and the front office), and the team is underperforming on the pitch. Not a good combination.
10. Atlético de San Luis (—)
The scrappy Tuneros are doing just enough to stay in games and collect points. That could earn a wildcard spot, but there are still lots of points in play.
11. Pachuca (—)
The Tuzos invested heavily to reshape their offense, but have not been rewarded. They’ll need to pick it up down the stretch to make the Liga MX playoffs.
12. Puebla (+2)
The Camoteros are a never-say-die team, but a late penalty against San Luis cost them dearly and they can’t afford to drop points at home.
13. Mazatlán FC (–1)
The Cañoneros looked impotent against América last weekend, but the Liga MX leaders have done that to lots of teams.
14. Tijuana (+1)
The Xolos might have saved Robert Siboldi’s job with their last-gasp win over Santos Laguna. The invisible penalty called helped tremendously.
15. Querétaro (+2)
The Gallos Blancos looked impressive last weekend, but the 3-0 win came against a fading Necaxa side.
16. Necaxa (–3)
The Rayos appear headed back toward the Liga MX cellar after a three-game win streak last month momentarily offered hope.
17. FC Juárez (+1)
The Bravos earned “Tuca” Ferretti his first win, refusing to sulk after Cruz Azul scored only 4 minutes into the match. Let’s see if they can sustain some momentum.
18. UNAM (–2)
The Pumas are in complete disarray with squabbling players showing a lack of discipline, and coach Andrés Lillini so far finding the academy cupboard bare.