Club America nabs Liga MX top spot with regular season done

The Liga MX regular season is now officially over and the playoffs are next, with six teams eliminated from the title hunt.

For those that remain, the top four in the league table automatically qualify for the quarter-final playoff stage, while places five through 12 go head-to-head in a preliminary one-legged play-in (repechaje) round this weekend. After that, the two-legged quarterfinals begin next week.

In case you missed the final weekend of the regular season, here’s a quick recap of the Liguilla invites, those who missed it, and other additional notes from Week 17.

– Liga MX Rankings | Liga MX coverage on ESPN Deportes
– Futbol Americas on ESPN+: MLS, Liga MX, USMNT, El Tri


America on top ahead of Monterrey, Santos, Pachuca

After four separate teams climbed to the top, Club America finished first in the league table after Week 12 and didn’t relinquish that position until the end of the regular season. The 2-1 win against Puebla on Friday night not only consolidated a whopping 38 points for the league leaders, but also expanded them Las Aguilas‘ 12-game unbeaten streak.

Manager Fernando Ortiz and his players remain clear favorites for the title, but the coach made it clear that things won’t be easy in the Liguilla.

“The twelfth qualified team has the same chance as us for first place,” said Ortiz after the result against Puebla. “From Monday afternoon you have to prepare differently [for the playoffs].”

Second-placed Monterrey is just three points behind Club America. While a 0-0 draw against Pachuca wasn’t the most exciting end to the regular season, it did show how well the team performed defensively with their ninth shutout in the Apertura. Led by experienced coach Victor Manuel Vucetich, Los Rayados another title contender will follow in the playoffs.

Santos Laguna finished the playoffs No. 3 in the playoffs after beating Mazatlan 3-0 on Sunday night. Led by a brace by Javier Correra, Los Guerreros finished the Liga MX regular season as joint top scorer (along with Club America) with 38 goals.

Last but not least, Pachuca is in the top four. If it wasn’t for a great game in the net from Monterrey’s defense and goalkeeper Esteban Andrada, Los Tuzos could easily have walked away with a win and a third or second place in the table. Still, they avoided the play-in round and will have plenty of time to rest La Liga top scorer Nicolas Ibañez, who has scored 11 times in the Apertura.


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Tigres, Cruise Azul; Toluca sneaks in

Fifth-placed Tigres, fluctuating between defeats and victories, ended the season with a convincing 3-0 win over Atletico San Luis. Perhaps as a warning for upcoming play-in round opponents Necaxa, star striker Andre-Pierre Gignac scored a brace in Tigres’ last result. That included an assist from the 21-year-old debutant Fernando Gonzales.

As for twelfth place Necaxa, they should consider themselves lucky to be in the playoff talk. After a 1-0 defeat by Atlas at the weekend, Necaxa just barely kept their place in Liguilla as Atletico San Luis and Mazatlan stumbled in their own games.

Sixth-placed Toluca had one of the biggest wins of the season – possibly thanks to some striking results Dia de Muertos kits — in the 4-1 result at home against Queretaro. Rising up the table, they now host eleventh-placed FC Juarez, a side who slipped just above the play-off line in a 3-1 win over Pumas last Friday.

Cruz Azul is at his peak at just the right moment to claim his fourth straight win after beating Chivas 2-1 on Saturday night. Sitting in seventh place Los Cementeros now receives 10th place Leon in the play-in round. On paper, Leon should be happy to be back in the playoffs after missing out on the 2022 Clausura, but a worrying 2-2 draw against Club Tijuana on Sunday (which denied them a chance to host a play-in round match ) won. I don’t contribute much to morale.

Eighth-placed Puebla conceded only their third loss of the season against Club America, but considering how tough they’ve been for first place in the playoffs, the 2-1 defeat has some silver linings ahead of their play-in match against ninth-placed Chivas .

Chivas’ regular-season roller coaster ride ended with a 2-1 loss to Cruz Azul that sent them to three straight losses, making Chivas the only playoff team without a single point in their last three. Manager Ricardo Cadena brushed aside any notion that a crisis was brewing and also admitted after the weekend’s result that “nobody feels like they have back-to-back losses”.


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Atlas out, but Cocca says goodbye affectionately

Atlas also had nothing to offer as play-off spots were out of reach, although the party atmosphere at the Estadio Jalisco in the 1-0 win against Necaxa would have been no indication. In front of a full and boisterous crowd, Atlas fans bid an emotional farewell to coach Diego Cocca, who led them to stunning back-to-back titles but couldn’t do enough to keep his job as the Guadalajara side finished 17th and missed the playoffs this season.

Directly above them in 16th place were the Pumas, who were unmotivated in the 3-1 win over FC Juarez. The run-up to the game saw the side’s curious headline apologizing to Dani Alves after mistakenly announcing that the Brazil international had injured ligaments in his right knee. However, the 39-year-old moved to reassure fans on social media that he didn’t suffer a serious blow.

In other results, Club Tijuana prayed for a win and a miracle to qualify for the playoffs, needing at least five goals against Leon. After a 2-2 draw, the Bordertown team finished 15th. Mazatlan also had a chance to sneak into the playoffs with just one win last weekend but ultimately struggled with the lopsided loss to Santos Laguna that kept them in 14th place. Atletico San Luis had a fighting chance to qualify for the playoffs but came close with back-to-back defeats to finish the Apertura in 13th place, including the 3-0 defeat by Tigres.

Finally, we finish with 18th place Queretaro, who appropriately ended up in last place overall. Their 4-1 loss not only secured them a place at the bottom of the table, but also earned them the unfortunate recognition of being the Liga MX team with the most goals allowed (35) this season.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/mexican-liga-bbva-mx/story/4760572/club-america-nabs-liga-mx-top-spot-with-regular-season-done Club America nabs Liga MX top spot with regular season done

Emma Bowman

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