América reminded Liga MX fans that it should always be considered a title contender, harrying and harassing the league-leading Rayados for 90 minutes to produce a 2-1 win.
By snapping Monterrey’s 12 game unbeaten streak, the Aguilas (27 points) leap-frogged León (26 points) into third place and announced their intention to extend their record for Liga MX titles (“Los Azulcremas” have 13, followed by the Chivas with 12).
Federico Viñas scored the winner in minute 79 just moments after subbing in. The burly Uruguayan was trapped just above the half-moon, spun in a tight circle but failed to shake the defense, then tried to send it wide right to Leo Suárez.
The pass was blocked and Diego Valdés collected the ball off a second deflection just outside the box and cooly slotted it to Viñas who had made a move toward goal. The 24-year-old striker held off Jesús Gallardo and moved inside the penalty spot before rolling a shot inside the left post.
What was he thinking?
Just when we were about to close the voting for Goalie of the Year, Esteban Andrada had a brain fart.
Andrada was second among Liga MX goalies in shut-outs and tops in save percentage coming into the game, then made three brilliant saves in the first half hour.
With a ball about to go over his endline for a corner kick in minute 36, the Monterrey keeper ran over and tried to corral the bouncing sphere, but botched it. The ball squirted behind him, Valdés swooped in and quickly bundled it into the net for the equalizer.
Liga MX Player of the Year?
América skipper Henry Martín (top scorer in Liga MX with 12 goals) flashed MVP form once again. It was truly thrilling to watch.
Against the best defense in the league, Martín’s every touch was exquisite – back-heel, flick-on, left foot, right foot, header, chest-trap – every touch had a purpose and a design. Well … that is, until he started tiring.
Counterattack of the Year?
Monterrey took the lead in minute 19 as the result of a 70-yard, 3-on-2 break-out that the Rayados executed at full speed.
Germán Berterame swiped the ball from Jonathan Rodríguez just outside the box, turned and fed Maxi Meza who sent a return pass to Bertrame already in América territory. Berterame drew Sebastián Cáceres to him in the right channel then touched the ball into the box for Luis Romo. Luis Malagón closed down on Romo and blocked Romo’s shot but the ricochet looped right into the path of the trailing Meza and he fired a laser into the net from inside the half-moon.
A marvelous goal.
Tiger, tiger, burning bright … well not so much
Tigres fans who have been passionately defending the job that interim coach Marco Antonio Ruiz has been doing might want to slink out of the room right about now.
Since Diego Cocca left for the El Tri job, Tigres have gone 3-1-5 and have scored just 6 goals in their past eight games. They are also a shocking 2-2-4 at home despite enjoying one of the most intimidating home-field advantages in Liga MX.
The team might have reached its nadir Saturday night, losing at “El Volcán” to last-place Mazatlán FC, jus the Cañoneros’ league-worst second win of the season.
Ruiz has been unable to motivate the veteran-heavy squad and his line-up selections have been rightfully criticized. Despite a talent-laden roster – one of the best in Liga MX – “Chima” has not been able to put his men in the right position.
The mighty “felinos” are in danger of slipping further down the wildcard rankings, still sitting at 7th but now even on points (21) with Cruz Azul.
Elsewhere around Liga MX on Saturday night
Guadalajara eased past visiting Necaxa 1-0 to climb into 5th place (25 points) pending the outcome of sixth-place Pachuca’s match on Sunday. Pável Pérez found the net in minute 71 to dispatch the lowly Rayos.
In León, Cruz Azul and the host Esmeraldas played an intense match, a taut defensive struggle that ended in a scoreless draw. The visiting Cementeros were pressing and scrambling for 90 minutes, patiently looking for breakout opportunities, but creating only two or three.
“La Fiera” took aim at Jesús Corona’s net 17 times but only three shots were on target and the 42-year-old netminder handled all three with aplomb.
Matchday 14 continues Sunday with a triple-header.