1
Aug

Liga MX: Five points from the mid-week games

 

by Kyle McCarthy

The scheduling demands imposed by the split season and the upcoming World Cup qualifiers forced most Mexican teams to cope with fixtures in midweek. It is not an ideal situation by any means, but these sides understand how to adjust appropriately and sidestep any potential effects.

Those efforts, however, are not always successful. A couple of intriguing results dotted the landscape as this round – complete with five points to accompany it – wound to a close on Wednesday night:

1. Perhaps the expectations of a revival in Guadalajara were misplaced: Benjamin Galindo’s side suffered a 2-0 defeat to league leaders Veracruz at Estadio Omnilife on Wednesday. Chivas conceded a stellar opener to Cristian Marrugo after five minutes and watched the in-form Angel Reyna (now joint top scorer with five goals) seal the points just short of full time. The defeat prompted Galindo to ask more from Marco Fabián and Rafael Márquez Lugo in order to slide this always wayward ship back on track.

 

Read More

30
May

Club Tijuana leave Copa Libertadores with heads held high

By Kyle McCarthy

Duvier Riascos found a berth in the Copa Libertadores semifinals placed directly at his feet in Club Tijuana’s 1-1 draw at Atlético Mineiro on Thursday night.

Tijuana could not have asked for a better man to take the potentially decisive penalty kick in second half stoppage time. He took his first half opener – dipped in controversy after a pair of potential fouls at the other end went uncalled and dispatched in style at the end of an incisive counter – with the precision expected from a player of his caliber. And Leo Silva presented him with the chance for his second after he scythed makeshift forward Pablo Aguilar to the ground to halt a prototypical route one move with the seconds ticking away.

Riascos assumed responsibility for success or failure when he stepped up to the spot. He embarked on a lengthy run-up from outside the penalty area and thumped the ball straight down the middle with Mineiro goalkeeper Victor leaning to his right.

Read More

30
May

Copa Libertadores Preview: Atletico Mineiro vs. Club Tijuana

image

By Kyle McCarthy

Club Tijuana coach Antonio Mohamed must produce one last miracle to conclude his tenure in style and send the Xolors through the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores.

He must devise a way to end Atlético Mineiro’s staggering record of success in Belo Horizonte.

It is not an easy brief to fulfill. Mineiro has not dropped a point at home during this calendar year. It has not lost at home during this edition of the competition. It has not suffered a home defeat since a 2-1 setback to Cruzeiro on Aug. 28, 2011.

Mineiro’s formidable home form exacerbates the problems created by Tijuana’s inability to protect a two-goal lead at Estadio Caliente a week ago. The 2-2 draw in Mexico hands Mineiro a significant advantage ahead of the second leg and means Tijuana must secure either an outright victory or a tie that includes at least three goals scored to go through at full time.

Read More

30
Apr

Copa Libertadores, Round of 16: Tijuana squanders chance vs. Palmeiras

By Kyle McCarthy

Club Tijuana managed to keep its unblemished home record in the Copa Libertadores intact with a 0-0 draw against Palmeiras on Tuesday night, but the Xolos squandered its invitation to take control of this round of 16 tie.

The home side kept its nerve for the most part and threatened occasionally after an indifferent start to the match. It did not, however, possess the sharpness required to make the best use of its advantage at Estadio Caliente.

The lack of investment in this side prior to this Libertadores campaign and the suspect form over the past few weeks told once again in the final third. Fidel Martinez lashed wide from a promising position at the top of the penalty area after 25 minutes to signal Tijuana’s improvement after a tentative opening period. Fernando Arce subsequently forced Bruno to tip his free kick over the bar, while Alfredo Moreno and Duvier Riascos both wasted good opportunities to open the scoring before the interval.

Read More

8
Apr

FIVE POINTS: LIGA MX (JORNADA 13)

image

Franco Arizala, Jaguares (Action Images)

1. Where were all the goals?: This particular weekend did not offer up much for the neutrals: eight games on Saturday and Sunday produced 10 combined goals. Three of those affairs ended in scoreless draws. And the one shootout of the weekend – the five-goal thriller on Friday night – leaned on a unique set of circumstances to generate all of that action in the final third…

2. Injuries threaten to sidetrack Chivas’ Liguilla push: Guadalajara manager Benjamin Galindo once again turned to a raft of reserves to carry his tattered side through a match. Unlike the Súper Clásico defeat to Club América last weekend, Chivas still looked capable of handling a visit to Jaguares on Friday. The shoddy back four – once again stripped of Héctor Reynoso (hamstring) – disagreed as it somehow squandered the advantages created by a pair of Rafael Márquez Lugo goals and an ample share of the ball. Franco Arizala’s winner nine minutes from time incited celebrations in Chiapas and left tattered Chivas two points off the pace in the playoff race.

3. Tigres spurns yet another chance to pull clear at the top: Ricardo Ferretti’s side wasted a glorious opening to compile a genuine cushion over second-place Atlas (0-0 draw with Morelia) and third-place Club América (1-1 draw with Puebla) with a victory against lowly Club León. The resulting 0-0 draw instead maintained the modest two-point advantage over Atlas heading into the final four weeks of the season. Ferretti and his players have yet to taste defeat in 13 Clausura matches, but they must take care of business to ensure they do not somehow allow Atlas or América (two points further back) to overtake them in the next few weeks.

4. So much for potential distractions for La Máquina: Cruz Azul could have turned its attentions to Wednesday’s Copa MX final against Atlante a few days early with a first title since 1997 on the horizon. Instead of dropping its guard ahead of the trip to Querétaro, Guillermo Vázquez’s side erased the deficit created by Diego de la Torre’s early marker and secured three valuable points in the battle for a Liguilla place. A similar triumph in Cancún in midweek would end the lengthy drought and strengthen Vázquez’s tenuous position significantly.

5. Home slip leaves Gallos Blancos with a relegation mountain to climb: De la Torre’s early goal provided hope of a critical result in the battle against relegation. Victory against Cruz Azul – plus the expected away defeat for then-bottom side San Luis in Cancún – would have drawn Querétaro within three points of safety with four matches to go.

No such luck for the bottom feeders on this weekend, though. Nicolás Bertolo and Javier Orozco snatched the points for Cruz Azul in the second half on Saturday night. And then Luis Rodriguez struck with a quarter of an hour to play at Estadio Andres Quintana Roo on Sunday night to give San Luis its first road victory of the season.

The unfortunate sequence of events left Querétaro seven points behind Atlante in the race to avoid relegation. Barring some sort of miracle over the next few weeks, Gallos Blancos will spend next season in Ascenso MX.

Results: Jaguares 3 – Chivas 2 (Friday); América 1 – Puebla 1,  Querétaro 1 – Cruz Azul 2, Pachuca 1 – Pumas 2, Tigres 0 – León 0, Atlas 0 – Morelia 0, Tijuana 0 – Santos 0 (Saturday); Toluca 1 – Monterrey 0, Atlante 0 – San Luis 1 (Sunday).

— By Kyle McCarthy