Seven teams were invited to the Liga MX post-season party this weekend, leaving two spots on the dance card up for grabs on the last day.
América continued their charge towards the upper echelons of the Liga MX table after wallowing in last place in late February/early March.
The Aguilas flew in “El Volcano” and snuffed out the second-placed Tigers, a team of pundits (including this one) who crowned champions just three weeks ago.
With the impressive 2-0 road win (without Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán, the score would have been at least 5-0), América clinched a place in the Liga MX playoffs and whether Puebla (home of lowly Mazatlán FC) or Atlas (host of the Tigers) stumbles, “Los Azul Creams” can finish in the Top 4 and earn a first-round bye.
In pursuit of Liga MX hardware
Atlas, Cruz Azul, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Necaxa and Atlético de San Luis also secured places in the Liga MX playoffs.
Defending champions Atlas beat Toluca 4-2 (the Zorros’ most impressive attacking display of the season), while Chivas and Necaxa rode blistering late-season streaks to qualify.
Despite having an extremely inconsistent season, Cruz Azul clinched their playoff ticket despite losing 1-0 at home to Atlético de San Luis. The Cementeros had the final first-round bye within their reach ahead of the listless performance and with America looming this weekend, “La Máquina” seem likely to fall into generic territory.
Guadalajara have now won three in a row after sacking coach Marcelo Michel Leaño, dropping from 14th to 7th place. Necaxa’s three-game winning streak was even more impressive with the last two wins coming in third-placed Puebla and second-placed Tigres, respectively.
Chivas and Rayos face off in the season finale at Necaxa’s Estadio Victoria in a game that will determine the playoff standings. The winner is likely to secure home court advantage in the generic round.
Monterrey stumble into the Liga MX playoffs on a three-game winless streak (routed by first-place Pachuca on Saturday), but they did all the leg work in March, going 4-1-1 to climb in the top half of the Liga MX Table. The Rayados can retain the No. 8 seed with a win over visiting Tijuana on Saturday, but it won’t be a walk in the park. The Xolos, 16th, still have an outside shot on one of the last two generic points.
Atlético de San Luis have now reached the Liga MX playoffs for a second straight season (they lost 2-0 at Santos Laguna in the wildcard round as the No. 12 seed) and the decisive win on Cruz Azul has confirmed its reputation as a giant. -killer. In addition to the Cementeros, the Tuneros have beaten León, Monterrey and América this season. That suggests they won’t be easy in the playoffs, regardless of their seeding.