Liga MX leaders stumble as América, Monterrey rise in standings

Diego Valdés (right) acknowledges the crowd after helping América rout Guadalajara in the Liga MX "Super Clásico" on Saturday night in Estadio Azteca. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Diego Valdés (right) acknowledges the crowd after helping América rout Guadalajara in the Liga MX "Super Clásico" on Saturday night in Estadio Azteca. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
Liga MX M8 wrap
Jordi Cortizo (right) celebrates with Jesús Corona after scoring Monterrey’s third goal thanks to a picture-perfect assist from Corona. “Tecatito” was playing in his first game back in Liga MX since leaving for Europe 10 years ago. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Matchday 8 is in the books and we still have two pretenders perched atop the Liga MX table.

Lurking in third place is an América club who can climb into first with a win on Wednesday in a make-up game.

The defending champs and three other “contenders” follow close behind while at the bottom of the standings we find “Big 4” member Cruz Azul, hard-luck Puebla and a terrible Necaxa side.

With two interruptions through the first half of the season (a month-long hiatus for the Leagues Cup tournament and two weeks off due to the September FIFA break), teams have had trouble establishing a rhythm and inconsistent play has been the result.

Top five teams stumble

The first- through fifth-place teams heading into Matchday 8 all failed to win this past weekend, a development that allowed América to continue its resurgence after stumbling out of the Apertura 2023 gate.

First-place Atlético de San Luis and second-place FC Juárez – pleasant surprises through the first seven weeks of the season – got reality checks.

The Tuneros had ridden a productive offense and an efficient defense (with solid goaltending from newcomer Diego Urtiago) to the top of the Liga MX standings. But on Sunday, they conceded two late goals and fell at UNAM 3-2.

Second-place FC Juárez led the league in scoring heading into their visit to last-place Necaxa, but failed to get a single shot on net. Fortunately, as they were facing the league’s worst team, they managed to salvage a 1-1 draw as the generous Rayos scored once into their own net. Still, the performance by the Bravos puts a damper on what had been the redemption story of the season so far (Juárez has made the playoffs just once).

Defending Liga MX champs Tigres slipped into third place (from second) after a stunning 2-0 loss at Atlas. The host Zorros were thought to be in a rebuilding year after shedding all three starting forwards, but academy products Jaziel Martínez and Jorge Guzmán demonstrated that the cupboard is not bare.

Fourth-place Guadalajara took a beating from América in the “Super Clásico” and fell two spots. Still, the 4-0 trouncing suddenly has last season’s losing Liga MX finalist looking much more like a pretender than a contender. We’ll have more to say about this game in the next installment of Liga MX Chronicles.

Fifth-place Toluca was thoroughly outplayed by a Tijuana side that had been in complete disarray, and the Diablos Rojos’ inconsistency thus far must be troubling for coach Ignacio Ambriz who finds his “Choriceros” in seventh place now.

Pair of Liga MX giants make intentions clear

América spent the early part of the Liga MX season near the bottom of the standings primarily because its Matchday 1 contest at Querétaro was postponed (the Estadio Corregidora turn was deemed unplayable). This was followed by a late-game collapse against the following week at home against FC Juárez.

The Aguilas are unbeaten since then despite a plethora of injuries to the back line and the absence of last season’s Liga MX MVP Henry Martín (the striker has been sidelined by a calf injury since July 31).

The acquisition of defender Igor Lichnovsky just as the transfer window slammed shut proved fortuitous and he contributed mightily to the rout of the Chivas.

Monterrey – last season’s No. 1 playoff seed – has seen its three top scoring threats head to sick bay (Germán Berterame led Liga MX in scoring before suffering a season-ending injury), but the Rayados convinced prodigal son Jesús Corona to come home after 10 years in Europe.

Corona thrilled Rayados fans with a brilliant assist in Monterrey’s 3-1 win over León while another European immigrant – Spaniard Sergio Canales – scored his third goal in four matches since arriving to Liga MX from Real Betis.

The victory lifted Monterrey into fifth place and the Rayados also have a game-in-hand (an as-yet-to-be rescheduled match against Tijuana), so they are poised to continue their climb.

Elsewhere across Liga MX

Atlas (8th), UNAM (9th) and Tijuana (10th) find themselves in playoff spots thanks to Matchday 8 victories.

The Liga MX postseason tournament features 10 teams this season after five consecutive campaigns with 12-year postseason fields.

The top six teams are granted first round byes with the other four teams taking part in a play-in tournament modeled after the NBA format. The No. 8 seed plays at No. 7 for the 7th seed in the Liguilla and the loser hosts the winner of the No. 9 vs No. 10 match for the final spot.

On the outside looking in as the Apertura 2023 hits the midway point are preseason hopefuls Santos Laguna (11th), Pachuca (12th) and León (13th). Pachuca outscored Santos 3-2 on Monday night to climb into shouting distance of a playoff berth.

Next. Baffling decision annuls Puebla victory over Tijuana. dark

Querétaro (14th) and Mazatlán FC (15th) have shown promise while Cruz Azul (16th), Puebla (17th and Necaxa (18th) appear to be in “Wait till next year” mode.