Puebla and Tijuana were given a 24-hour reprieve but FC Juárez was not so lucky and their season came to an end Friday night.
While the Camoteros-Xolos match was postponed due to volcanic activity (Thanks for nothin’, Popo!), the Bravos were eliminated after a 1-0 loss to América.
Now Juárez ownership must wait to see how Mazatlán FC fares against Guadalajara while hoping to avoid a 33 million-peso “relegation” payout. But first someone will have to explain the math.
On the field at Estadio Olímpico Benito Juárez, Richard Sánchez delivered the only goal América needed and “los AzulCremas” virtually locked up the No. 2 seed in the Liga MX playoffs (unless the Chivas stomp the Cañoneros 9-0).
Liga MX Golden Boot up for grabs
Henry Martín failed to bolster his quest to become América’s first scoring champ in 10 years (Christian Benítez led Liga MX with 12 goals in the Clausura 2013) and finished with 14 goals.
That leads all Liga MX scorers at present, but Julián Quiñones (12 goals) and Atlas visit Atlético de San Luis on Saturday.
Martín was kept in check throughout the first half by the Bravos, but got off three shots in the second half, clanging the crossbar in minute 81.
With the win, América (34 points) secured a first-round bye in the playoffs, finishing the Clausura 2023 with the fewest losses in Liga MX, posting a 9-7-1 record. The Aguilas also boast the highest-scoring offense in the league – 36 goals – and will enter the postseason on a 7-game unbeaten streak (5-2-0).
As for the Bravos (15 points), they sit in 16th place though 17th-place Necaxa (14 points) could displace them with a tie or a win at Toluca on Sunday.
FC Juárez must now await Mazatlán FC’s result to see if they’ll have to pay a hefty fine for finishing third-last in the “Relegation Standings.” A Mazatlán loss at Guadalajara would leave the Cañoneros and Bravos all even and Liga MX officials have not explained how the tie might be broken (or whether the two teams would split the fine).
Once that is determined, Juárez ownership will turn their attention to finding a new coach. Hernán Cristante led the Bravos to their first-ever playoff appearance last season, but was fired after a Matchday 13 loss. Diego Mejía acted as interim coach for the final four games.
A new abbreviation for Liga MX
Just 43 kilometers due west of Puebla, Popocateptl has been extremely active of late.
“Don Goyo” registered two explosions and sent huge ash clouds into the air on Thursday so Liga MX officials decided to postpone the Puebla-Tijuana match, a ruling we’ll jot down as ppd-Popo.
The game pits two teams with long-shot hopes of qualifying for the playoffs and they are expected to take the field at Estadio Cuauhtémoc at 5 pm on Saturday.