MEXICO WRAP: Herculez rises, Chivas falls, 3 more playoff berths captured
American forward Herculez Gomez's electric form in his first season in Mexico's top flight has him atop the scoring charts after he netted two more goals in a Puebla victory Sunday.
Guadalajara is stumbling toward the Primera Division's "Bicentenario" playoffs after ruling the league the first two months of the Clausura, or spring, season. Chivas suffered its third successive shutout defeat Saturday and could drop from second in the overall standings to fourth with another loss as the regular season concludes this weekend.
Three more clubs Pumas UNAM, Santos and Toluca -- clinched postseason berths, leaving three open slots and six teams in contention. Overall leader Monterrey and Guadalajara also are playoff-bound.
A quick look at the past weekend in Mexico:
HERCULEZ'S GOALS: Gomez, born in Los Angeles and raised in Las Vegas, scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season as Puebla routed Cruz Azul, 4-1. He and Atlante's Johan Fano share the goalscoring lead with Guadalajara's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, who has joined Mexico's pre-World Cup camp and won't return to Chivas.
CHIVAS' SKID: Guadalajara followed shutout losses to Morelia and lowly Indios de Ciudad Juarez with a 2-0 defeat to crosstown rival Atlas as Hebert Efrain Alferez scored in the 14th and 67th minutes. Chivas, which contributed five players to Mexico coach Javier Aguirre's camp goalkeeper Luis Ernesto Michel, defender Jonny Magallon, and forwards Hernandez, Adolfo "Bofo" Bautista and Alberto Medina lost defender Ricardo Jimenez to a first-half red card, and coach Carlos Ischia was dismissed in the 80th minute.
The club is 2-5-1 since the end of February after starting the season 8-0-0, but it clinched the top spot in Group 1 when Toluca posted a 1-1 draw Saturday at Pachuca.
PLAYOFF BERTHS: The draw was enough for Toluca to claim its playoff berth, although it fell from third to fifth overall, leapfrogged by Group 3 leader Pumas and Santos, which qualified for the postseason with victories. Pumas beat Morelia, 2-0, Sunday with second-half goals by Oscar Rojas and Martin Bravo; Santos overcame last-place San Luis, 2-1, Monday on Jorge Estrada's goal in second-half stoppage.
Morelia (24 points), Cruz Azul (24), Atlas (23), America (22), Pachuca (21) and Gallos Blancos (21) are in the running for the last three playoff spots.
Atlas climbed from 10th to eighth overall with its win over Guadalajara, and a victory Saturday over Jaguares (4-6-6) would secure its berth. Morelia has the toughest opponent Monterrey, which will be the top seed for the playoffs but is playing at home Saturday and will advance with a draw no matter the other results. Cruz Azul is home against Guadalajara, a nice matchup given Chivas' troubles.
AMERICA'S STRUGGLE: Mexico City's biggest club dropped out of the top eight with a 2-1 defeat Saturday at Monterrey, and a victory Sunday over Santos at Estadio Azteca will be required to advance. America plays the final match of the season and will know before kickoff whether it has a chance and what it must accomplish.
The Aguilas will be without defender Aquivaldo Mosquera, who was ejected after picking up his second yellow card late in the loss to Monterrey.
Weekend results (home teams listed first)
Gallos Blancos 1 (Romo 77), Estudiantes Tecos 0
Jaguares 1 (Salazar 65), Indios de Ciudad Juarez 0
Monterrey 2 (Santana 26, Carre