Liga MX Power Rankings: Low-flying Aguilas still No. 1

América fell to Cruz Azul just days after losing the Concacaf Champions League Final to Monterrey, but the Aguilas remain top of the Liga MX heap. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
América fell to Cruz Azul just days after losing the Concacaf Champions League Final to Monterrey, but the Aguilas remain top of the Liga MX heap. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
Liga MX Rankings M16
Striker Andre-Pierre Gignac appears to be returning to fitness at just the right time for the No. 2-ranked Tigres who clinched a spot in the Liga MX playoffs thanks to a brace from the Frenchman. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

We’re down to the final matchday of the Apertura 2021 and there are still six playoffs spots unclaimed. Nine teams will play their season finale hoping to claim a wildcard spot.

To be entirely accurate, a 10th team – FC Juárez – is mathematically alive but they’d have to beat the Tigres and hope the Chivas, San Luis, Pachuca and UNAM all lose AND make up a 7-goal differential on the Chivas. So …

At the top of the table, six teams have secured an invitation to the Liga MX playoffs with top-ranked América having sewn up the No. 1 seed weeks ago. The remaining top seeds (Nos. 2, 3 and 4) are still up for grabs with Atlas, León, Tigres, Toluca and Cruz Azul chasing the first-round playoff bye that goes with a top seed.

Despite a few upsets (Atlas losing at home to last-place Tijuana, for one), there was very little change in this week’s rankings. Cruz Azul might have gotten a bounce after defeating league-leading América last Saturday, but a midweek loss to visiting León in a make-up game prevented that.

Liga MX Power Rankings: M16

Matchday 17 gets underway tonight, so we’ll cut right to the chase. Here is the penultimate Playing for 90 Power Rankings for the Liga MX. You’ll note there is a tie at No. 5. Although León defeated Cruz Azul in their Matchday 11 make-up game, the Esmeraldas won on an own-goal. Over the weekend, León played to a scoreless draw at Toluca. Good results to be sure, but the lack of scoring kept them from rising too much in this latest list .

As always, the figure in parentheses after the team name indicates the club’s movement with regard to the previous rankings.

1. América (—)

The Aguilas lost to defending Liga MX champs Cruz Azul on a last-minute penalty kick, but coach Santiago Solari was using a make-shift line-up as he aims to have a fully fit roster by the time the playoffs roll around. “Los AzulCremas” have been coasting since wrapping up the regular-season title nearly three weeks ago.

2. Tigres (—)

After a tough loss to América on Matchday 15, the Tigres bounced back with a fine display against the Chivas as André-Pierre Gignac scored his second and third goals of the season. They can secure a first-round playoff bye with a win over FC Juárez and former coach “Tuca” Ferretti.

3. Atlas (—)

The Zorros blew a chance to clinch a Top 4 seed with a bumbling performance against the cellar-dwelling Xolos. Diego Cocca & Co. have exceeded expectations thus far, but a late-season collapse that forces the “other” Guadalajara club to go the wildcard route would be a real disappointment. A convincing win against 17th-place Querétaro tonight would quiet the critics.

4. Toluca (—)

The Diablos Rojos still lead Liga MX in scoring despite finding the net only five times in its past seven games. Coach Hernán Cristante has not been able to shore up a leaky defense so playmakers like Rubens Sambueza and Alexis Canelo must step up … and now!

5. León (+1)

The Esmeraldas have been playing incredible defense of late (five clean sheets in their past six games), but their scorers continue to misfire in front of the opposing net. A win over Necaxa in the season finale would afford coach Ariel Holan more time to tinker with his offensive tactics.

5. Cruz Azul (—)

The Cementeros blew a glorious opportunity to secure a first-round playoff bye coming off an emotional win over América but came up empty against León at home. Defending the title will be difficult as a wildcard.

7. Monterrey (—)

The Rayados followed a confidence-building victory over América in the Concacaf Champions League Final by sleepwalking to a 1-1 draw in San Luis. With the highest payroll in Liga MX at his disposal, coach Javier Aguirre has not won enough to satisfy Monterrey’s demanding fans.

8. Puebla (+1)

The Camoteros are once again the top overachievers in Liga MX. Coach Nicolás Larcamón has his squad playing a full 90 minutes week-in and week-out. “La Franja” is on the verge of reaching the Liga MX playoffs for a third consecutive season.

9. Santos Laguna (+1)

The Guerreros had a make-up game pending as of this writing (at UNAM) but too often coach Guillermo Almada has screamed himself hoarse as he watches his guys settle for a tie (“Los Laguneros” have a league-high eight draws).

10. Mazatlán FC (–2)

The Cañoneros could have punched their postseason ticket at Necaxa last Friday, but an avoidable handball in the box provided the Rayos with the wining goal deep into added time. Now “The Purple Gang” must defeat the Chivas or risk coming up short yet again.

11. UNAM (—)

The Pumas are on a three-game win streak that salvaged a horrible season. But claiming a wildcard spot will not be easy. They face last season’s losing finalist Santos in a make-up game tonight then host reigning Liga MX champs Cruz Azul in the finale. A win and a draw is needed.

12. Necaxa (+2)

The Rayos were counted for dead after a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season. A 2-2-1 October featuring a win at Monterrey and a scoreless draw at the Tigres have given fans of “Los Electricistas” a reason to believe.

13. Guadalajara (–1)

The Chivas are barely hanging on to the 12th and final playoff spot despite a season of high drama that included a coaching change and numerous player suspensions for violating team rules. A loss or a tie at Mazatlán FC on Friday night could end this troubled season for “El Rebaño Sagrado.”

14. Pachuca (–1)

The Tuzos appear on the way to a coaching change. Huge investments in the summer transfer window have produced just four wins and Paulo Pezzolano is likely on his way out.

15. Atlético de San Luis (—)

After finishing dead last a season ago, the Tuneros are tied with the Chivas on points (19) but behind on goal differential. A win at Santos Laguna on Sunday could make all the difference in the world.

16. FC Juárez (–1)

The Bravos simply don’t have the personnel to play the demanding tactical style preferred by coach “Tuca” Ferretti. The season finale will find “Tuca” back “home” in Estadio Universitario where Tigres fans will no doubt pay tribute to the coach who won five Liga MX titles, four domestic cups and a Concacaf Champions League while managing “Los Felinos” from 2011-2021.

17. Querétaro (—)

The Gallos Blancos will get a head start on their winter break since they finish up tonight against Atlas.

Next. FIFA ban distracts from Liga MX stretch run. dark

18. Tijuana (—)

The Xolos are actively looking for a new coach, already dissatisfied with Sebastián Méndez who took over only about a month ago.