Little movement in penultimate Liga MX Power Rankings

Liga MX Rankings 16

Mazatlán FC visits Necaxa on Friday with a Liga MX playoff spot on the line. (Photo by Efrain Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Liga MX is off this weekend allowing El Tri to take center stage as the national team plays its final friendlies before the World Cup

While Mexico faces off against Peru and Colombia in the coming days, Liga MX clubs will stage friendlies to prepare for Matchday 17 beginning on Sept. 30. In addition, there are two make-up games this week (Friday, Sept. 23), both of which have playoff implications.

Fourteenth place Mazatlán FC visits 12th place Necaxa who is desperately trying to hold onto the final wildcard spot. For its part, the visiting Cañoneros must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Also 10th place Puebla welcomes UNAM who is in a must-win situation. The hosts could claim a home game in the wildcard round by winning out.

Liga MX playoff seedings taking shape

This week’s Playing for 90 Power Rankings indicate we’ve got it just about right as fully 11 of the 18 Liga MX teams held firm. The only moves of significance were Cruz Azul climbing two rungs after winning its third in a row, while the aforementioned Pumas of UNAM – Cruz Azul’s last victim – dropped three spots.

Without further ado, here are the Liga MX Power Rankings ahead of the final Matchday of the Apertura 2022 season. The figure in parentheses after each club’s name indicates that team’s movement – if any – compared to the previous rankings.

1. América (—)

The hottest team in Liga MX – the Aguilas are on an 11-game unbeaten streak – can clinch the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs with a win at Puebla.

2. Pachuca (—)

The Tuzos can finish with the No. 2 seed by defeating Monterrey by 2 goals. Otherwise, they could tumble down to the fourth seed. Either way, Pachuca is guaranteed a first-round bye.

3. Monterrey (—)

The Rayados only need a draw at home against the Tuzos to secure the No. 2 seed and the FIFA break should allow a few key players to recover fitness.

4. Santos Laguna (—)

The Guerreros are the No. 2 scoring team in Liga MX (35 goals) and their +14 goal differential virtually clinches a first-round playoff bye. To tumble into a wildcard match, “los Laguneros” would have to lose badly to Mazatlán FC while at the same time Tigres rout Atlético de San Luis.

5. Tigres (—)

“Los felinos” expect to hold the No. 5 seed which means they’ll get to play the worst playoff qualifier in the wildcard round. Playing regularly instead of miraculously claiming the bye might be better for this wildly enigmatic team.

6. Guadalajara (—)

The Chivas’ race to the finish line has been interrupted by two consecutive losses though controversial calls in the “Super Clásico” prompted a return visit to Liga MX HQ by GM Ricardo Peláez. But there’s little satisfaction from that.

7. Toluca (—)

The Diablos Rojos have been near the top of the standings all season long but their poor defense will not attract too much support from Liga MX bettors.

8. Cruz Azul (+2)

After a post-Matchday 10 coaching change, the Cementeros have gone 4-1-1 and climbed right back into the Liga MX playoff picture. Though perhaps not a genuine contender, “La Máquina” can certainly throw a scare at higher-ranked teams.

9. León (–1)

The Esmeraldas have won three of four and are just 1 point (or a Mazatlán FC loss) from securing a wildcard berth. That would be a great reward for a team still trying to figure out what rookie coach Renato Paiva is asking.

10. Atlético de San Luis (–1)

The Tuneros have a tough task ahead of them. They host Tigres in their season finale and a loss puts them at risk of elimination. A draw could even cause them to miss out on the Liga MX postseason (if FC Juárez wins at home against the Pumas and Necaxa does not lose either of its final two matches).

11. Puebla (—)

The Camoteros halted their 12-game winless streak in the nick of time and their 10 draws – tops in Liga MX – virtually assures “La Franja” of a playoff berth.

12. Necaxa (+1)

To avoid a disastrous stretch-run collapse, the Rayos must at least win one of their two remaining matches or draw both. That would be enough to claim the 12th and final seed. Two wins (vs Mazatlán FC, at Atlas) could produce a home wildcard game if other results fall their way.

13. Mazatlán FC (+1)

The Cañoneros made the Liga MX playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season and they control their own fate. Win at Necaxa and upset Santos Laguna on the road. Easy as pie … yeah, not so much.

14. FC Juárez (–1)

The Bravos could earn Liga MX Comeback Team of the Season with a win over UNAM and some help. The Border Braves finished last a season ago, but a summer of heavy spending has them on the verge of their first-ever postseason appearance.

15. UNAM (–3)

The Pumas are a disaster and the critics have their knives out. The front office splashed the cash before the season and have just two wins to show for it.

16. Tijuana (—)

The Xolos are still mathematically alive but would have to go on the road and defeat León, then hope that five other results go their way.

17. Atlas (—)

The two-time defending Liga MX champs could not overcome fatigue and injuries. The Zorros can use the extended break caused by the World Cup to lick their wounds and prepare to contend in the Clausura 2023.

18. Querétaro (—)

The Gallos Blancos failed to win on the road for the 45th consecutive game. They play at Toluca in the season finale.