Ten-man Toluca battled visiting Puebla to a 1-1 draw, nearly stealing the game-winner late on in a Matchday 16 contest.
Yep, that’s right. Matchday 16.
The Liga MX has scattered eight of the nine Matchday 16 games throughout the month of August in order to complete the Apertura 2022 schedule before the November World Cup.
FC Juárez hosts Atlético de San Luis tonight in the next such contest.
Altidore gets his debut
Puebla took an early lead when Maxi Araujo stole a lazy outlet pass by Diablos defender Andrés Mosquera and sent Omar Fernández in alone on Tiago Volpi. Fernández easily beat the goaltender and the Camoteros led 1-0 in minute 17.
“Los Choriceros” nearly tied the score 3 minutes later when a poor back pass was intercepted by Jean Meneses but his volley banged off the right post harmlessly. At the break, Toluca enjoyed the better of possession, but the swarming Puebla defense prevented the hosts from getting another look at goal.
Twenty-two minutes after the break, Toluca went down a man after a poorly timed tackle by Jordan Sierra was rewarded with a red card. Instead of hanging their heads, however, the Diablos stepped on the gas (it helped that Puebla pulled their defense back a bit).
US international Jozy Altidore made his Liga MX debut for Puebla in minute 81. Altidore was acquired on loan to help fill the vacancy created when striker Fernando Aristeguieta suffered a long-term injury last month.
Toluca continued to press forward and in minute 82, Mosquera made up for his first-half boner by shaking free of his marker and heading home a cross from Fernando Navarro. The Diablos didn’t rest after that, twice threatening the goal of Antony Silva.
The 1-1 result temporarily lifts Toluca in second place (14 points) with Puebla rising to fourth (10 points). The Diablos host fifth-place Tijuana on Sunday, while Puebla is off until Aug. 12 when they’ll travel to Tijuana to take on the Xolos.
Liga MX Big 4 stumbling
The so-called Big 4 of Liga MX – América, Chivas, Cruz Azul and UNAM – have stumbled out of the gate for the second season in a row.
Last year, América – considered a Liga MX giant – was in last place after eight weeks, the Chivas fired their coach after Matchday 13 before making a late run to the playoffs and UNAM qualified for a wildcard spot on the last day of the season only to be routed by the Chivas (who were in turn knocked out by crosstown rivals Atlas in the quarterfinals).
As for Cruz Azul, they were touted to have the most talented roster in Liga MX but played with little urgency during the Clausura 2022 earning a No. 8 seed then getting booted in the quarterfinals.
Through six games this season, the Big 4 can all be found in the bottom half of the table: UNAM – ninth; Cruz Azul – 10th; Chivas – 14th; América – 15th.
Here is a rundown of their “highlights” at the 1/3 mark of the Liga MX season.
América – just 1-1-3 – has lost all three road games this season and has dropped four consecutive away from home for the first time in nearly a decade. Reportedly, coach Fernando Ortiz must win this weekend against FC Juárez or he could be gone.
The Chivas are one of three winless Liga MX franchises and. “El Rebaño Sagrado” has just 3 goals in six contests.
Cruz Azul won its season opener and defeated Necaxa on Saturday. In between, the Cementeros went 0-2-2.
The Pumas are the only undefeated team in Liga MX but they have just one victory. Their 1-5-0 record features a 1-3-0 mark at home.