Final Power Rankings: Tuzos No. 1, Aguilas No. 2

Pachuca had a lot to celebrate this season as the Tuzos proved to be the best team in Liga MX. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
Pachuca had a lot to celebrate this season as the Tuzos proved to be the best team in Liga MX. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /
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Liga MX rankings final
Jesús Angulo (center) and Christián Calderón (left) were two of the Chivas players to benefit from the club’s midseason coaching change. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /

Reaching semifinals might be ceiling for these teams

6. Monterrey (—)

7-5-5, 21 GF, 17 GA, +4

The Rayados have a deep roster and it’s a good thing because several “stars” are demonstrating lousy form (we’re looking at you Luis Romo … and Rogelio Funes Mori … and Vincent Janssen … we could go on). Still, Víctor Manuel Vucetich has installed a pragmatic system to which his veteran players have adapted quite effectively. Though not as explosive as the team’s talent would suggest, Monterrey is a dangerous team.

7. Guadalajara (—)

7-5-5, 25 GF, 21 GA, +4

Former coach Marcelo Michel Leaño was famous for pointing out the mistakes of his players and absolving himself of blame. Since Michel was fired and Ricardo Cadena took over, the Chivas responded with a four-game win streak to rise eight spots in the table to earn a home game in the wildcard round. The team is playing with more passion and Alexis Vega has sparked the offense, Miguel Jiménez has stood tall since taking over as starting goalkeeper.

8. Necaxa (—)

7-2-8, 21 GF, 21 GA, 0

The Rayos have limited talent but once Jaime Lozano took over after Matchday 4 there was immediate improvement. “Jimmy” installed tactical discipline on defense but the lack of playmakers has made it difficult to generate much offense. Necaxa’s structure in attack will not scare playoff opponents, but making the playoffs as a No. 9 seed was more than could be expected after a 1-0-3 start. Now if only ownership spends money over the summer …

9. Cruz Azul (—)

7-4-6, 20 GF, 17 GA, +3

The Cementeros are rather a mess but have managed to cover up most of their problems through sheer individual talent. Coach Juan Reynoso has tinkered with his roster way too much and does not appear to have an established line-up or substitution rotation. All too often “La Máquina” appears to be hesitant, players seem to be unaware of their roles and/or unfamiliar with their linemates. Unless the Cementeros win the Liga MX title, Reynoso might be sent packing.

10. UNAM (+1)

6-4-7, 24 GF, 21 GA, +3

In contrast to Cruz Azul, the Pumas are overachievers. The team plays with grit and passion, getting results above and beyond their talent level. No way this team was good enough to reach the Concacaf Champions League Finals (they defeated Cruz Azul in the semifinals) while also maintaining enough stamina to make a late charge and qualify for the Liga MX playoffs.

11. Atlético de San Luis (–1)

7-2-8, 21 GF, 22 GA, –1

The Tuneros were giant-killers this season, defeating América, Monterrey, León and Cruz Azul. They even handed Puebla its first loss of the season. A lack of consistency and a loss at home in their season finale to lowly Santos Laguna doomed André Jardine & Co to a lower playoff seeding than they might have deserved. But a 0-0-3 start – including a home loss to FC Juárez – kept this team from better standing. Still, making the Liga MX playoffs in back-to-back seasons is a real boon for this modest franchise.

12. Mazatlán FC (+3)

6-3-8, 20 GF, 24 GA, –4

The Cañoneros snuck into the Liga MX playoffs for the first time since joining the league in summer 2020. A four-game win streak – including wins over Atlas and Puebla – boosted The Purple Gang into a wildcard berth. Coach Gabriel Caballero took over on Matchday 10 and seemed to stabilize the team. The Cañoneros made fewer mistakes, played with more patience and learned to be more opportunistic.