Power Rankings: Tuzos closing in on No. 1 Aguilas

Pachuca's Erick Sanchez (right) gets congratulations from teammate Israel Luna after one of his two goals against Tijuana on Sunday. Sánchez added an assist in the Tuzos' 6-1 win. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Pachuca's Erick Sanchez (right) gets congratulations from teammate Israel Luna after one of his two goals against Tijuana on Sunday. Sánchez added an assist in the Tuzos' 6-1 win. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
Liga MX Rankings M14
Santos Laguna goalie Carlos Acevedo (in pink) exults after scoring his first-ever Liga MX goal, after heading home the equalizer against Querétaro. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

The Apertura 2022 is heading down the home stretch and the Liga MX playoff race is heating up at both the top (for the four first-round byes) and at the bottom (the final wildcard slots).

América, Monterrey, Pachuca and Santos Laguna have already clinched postseason berths while at the other end Querétaro has been eliminated and two-time defending Liga MX champs Atlas is hanging by a thread.

Matchday 14 provided fans with a couple upsets – León defeated Tigres in “El Volcán” and, even though denied a win on a last-second header by Guerreros goalie Carlos Acevedo, Querétaro’s 3-3 tie vs Santos Laguna was a surprise.

And speaking of goalies putting the ball in the net, UNAM’s Julio González banged home an equalizer at Toluca in minute 90+6 to keep the Pumas’ playoff dreams alive.

América holds firm atop Liga MX Power Rankings

Just two full Liga MX matchdays remain (remember, Matchday 16 was moved forward and scattered through August and September; just two Matchday 16 game yet to be played – one this week and one next week), but we’ll have a pause for the upcoming FIFA break.

That means there’s not much time for teams to make their move and there’s likely to be a big scramble for the last few wildcard spots.

As mentioned above, some surprises this past weekend prompted a few big moves in this week’s Liga MX Power Rankings. Cruz Azul, Atlético de San Luis and the Pumas were the big risers, while Necaxa, Mazatlán FC and FC Juárez took significant steps backward.

Without further ado, here are the Playing for 90 Power Rankings. The figure in parentheses after each club’s name reflects the team’s change in comparison to the previous rankings.

1. América (—)

The streaking Aguilas set a new franchise record with their ninth consecutive victory, a comeback win over Necaxa. They host the red-hot Chivas on Saturday.

2. Pachuca (—)

The Tuzos are looking more and more like the team that finished atop the Liga MX table last season and the dynamic midfield duo of Erick Sánchez and Luis Chávez is leading the way.

3. Monterrey (+1)

The Rayados continue to play only as well as needed and that could come back to haunt them in the Liga MX playoffs.

4. Santos Laguna (+1)

The Guerreros followed a scintillating four-game win streak with a loss, a win and a draw (against last-place Querétaro).

5. Tigres (–2)

The Tigres have an impressive arsenal up front but can’t find the net. Coach Miguel Herrera deserves much of the blame as neither his tactics nor his line-up selections have proven successful.

6. Guadalajara (—)

The Chivas are on a seven-game unbeaten streak but before they can turn their attention to Saturday’s “Super Clásico” at Estadio Azteca, they must visit Tigres in a Matchday 9 make-up game.

7. Toluca (—)

The Diablos Rojos are one of the most enigmatic teams in Liga MX. Ignacio Ambriz’s complex system is responsible for that as several players still don’t quite get it.

8. León (+2)

The Esmeraldas are making a late push for a spot in the Liga MX playoffs and their 1-0 away win at Tigres should do wonders for their confidence.

9. Atlético de San Luis (+4)

The Tuneros close out the season with two home games. Unfortunately, the visiting teams are Pachuca and Tigres.

10. Cruz Azul (+6)

The Cementeros are showing a bit of life after hitting bottom and actually have a shot at a wildcard spot. They close out a disappointing Liga MX season with a trip to Pumas sandwiched between visits from León and Guadalajara.

11. Puebla (–3)

The Camoteros are on a 12-game winless streak and right back Gustavo Ferrarais broke his ankle this weekend. With three home games remaining, one would think a Liga MX postseason berth is easily within reach, but coming to town are Tigres, UNAM and América.

12. UNAM (+3)

The Pumas are making a late bid to join the playoff line-up after ending a nine-game winless streak. Will a goal at the death by UNAM netminder Julio González (to steal a 2-2 draw at Toluca) be a springboard for “los felinos?”

13. Necaxa (–4)

The Rayos are tumbling down the standings and the rankings but that’s primarily because they had been overachieving. They looked downright timid against América in the second half of their 2-1 loss at the weekend.

14. Mazatlán FC (–4)

The Cañoneros stumbled in their bid to qualify for the Liga MX playoffs for the second straight season (and second in franchise history) by looking meek against Cruz Azul.

15. FC Juárez (–3)

Two consecutive 1-0 losses has the Bravos on the outside looking in. Still, they are considerably better than last season when they were in the Liga MX cellar.

16. Tijuana (–2)

The Xolos appear to have collapsed and they mailed it in against Pachuca on Sunday, getting absolutely crushed 6-1.

17. Atlas (—)

The two-time defending Liga MX champs are alive mathematically, but they are on a respirator. The Zorros must win both remaining matches and get plenty of help.

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18. Querétaro (—)

The Gallos Blancos had their second win of the season all sewn up but then forgot to guard Santos goalie Carlos Acevedo on a last-gasp corner kick.