Herculez Gomez finally scored for Pachuca and Miguel Angel Ponce netted his first Primera Division goal during a wild weekend in Mexico’s Primera Division capped by the top three teams’ failures to win.
Gomez, who shared the goal-scoring title in the spring Clausura with 10 goals for Puebla, finally found the net in his eighth appearance for Pachuca, coming off the bench to score the Tuzos’ third goal in a 3-1 romp Saturday over visiting Estudiantes Tecos.
Gomez, who has been a substitute in all eight of his appearances and has played only 190 minutes -- barely more than two full games -- during the Apertura, capitalized on a poor goal kick by Christian Martinez in the 83rd minute, just six minutes after entering the match.
Pachuca (2-4-3), which is 15th of 18 clubs in the overall standings and fourth in Group 2, won for the first time since opening the season July 24 with a 3-0 stunner over Club America.
“The team is working hard, which is the most important thing, but we also believe that two wins isn’t enough, and the only way to improve and get more wins is to work,” Gomez, who was born in Los Angeles, raised in Las Vegas and emerged with the Galaxy’s 2005 MLS Cup championship side, told reporters after the game.
Next up is Atlante (2-5-2), which sits just one point behind Pachuca in Group 2, and Gomez said the six-point swing in the match is important “because I think we can start something if we get a good result there … we can achieve more points and grow in confidence.”
Ponce, the 21-year-old, Sacramento-born defender who has been starting at left ball all season for Guadalajara (2-2-4), made his first goal for Chivas a big one, giving them a 1-1 draw Sunday with UANL Tigres on a 72nd-minute shot deflected into the net by defender Juninho. The club’s winless streak is at three games.
The game was scheduled for Saturday but was postponed when heavy rains made the field unplayable.
NO WINS FOR THE BEST: Overall leader Cruz Azul and its chief challengers, Santos Laguna and Monterrey, went without wins, narrowing the gap separating them from the field of clubs angling for playoff berths.
Cruz Azul (7-2-0) was unfortunate to fall, 2-1, at Necaxa, victim to a controversial penalty kick (converted by Dario Gandin in the 13th minute) and denied a tying goal deep into stoppage by goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona, who had joined his teammates in Necaxa’s box for a corner kick.
Referee Jesus Morales controversially called Corona for a foul and gave him a second yellow card.
Monterrey (5-0-4), the lone unbeaten team in the Primera Division, settled for a 0-0 draw at Queretaro that sent it into second place, one point ahead of Santos (6-3-0), which was beaten, 3-2, at America in the weekend’s biggest match. Monterrey leads Group 1 by one point over Santos.
Christian Benitez’s league-leading 10th goal of the Apertura gave Santos an early lead, but America (4-2-3) took charge on a strike by Vicente Sanchez and two by Matias Vuoso, his fifth and sixth of the campaign.
Fernande Arce trimmed the deficit to 3-2 just before halftime, but Santos couldn’t take advantage of America midfielder Rosinei’s 67th-minute red card, and its best chance at a draw, a Benitez header five minutes into stoppage, was turned aside by a sensational save by Mexico national team goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Cruz Azul will be home Saturday against Mexico City rival America in this week’s biggest encounter, and Santos will take on visiting Toluca, which is fourth in the overall standings. Monterrey is home against Necaxa.
ETC.: Jaguares jumped from the bottom of Group 3 into the No. 2 spot -- and from 12th to seventh in the overall standings -- with its third straight victory, a 2-1 decision over San Luis, which came in with a three-game winning streak. Carlos Ochoa’s sixth goal, in the 69th, was decisive. … Toluca remained atop Group 2 with a 2-1 victory at Morelia, with Nestor Calderon scoring the winner off a rebound in the 62nd minute. … Martin Bravo, with his first goals since March 2009, sent Pumas UNAM to a two-goal lead over Atlante, which rallied for a 2-2 draw goals in the 72nd and 75th minutes, the second a penalty kick, by Johan Fano. … Atlas claimed its first victory of the Apertura, beating Puebla, 1-0, on Alfredo Moreno’s 13th-minute header.
LIGA DE ASCENSO: Juan Sara’s seventh and eighth goals of the season carried Lobos BUAP past Leones Negros, 2-0, and to the top of the second-tier league’s standings, ahead of Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente on goal difference. The Xolos were held to a 1-1 draw at Correcaminos after taking an early lead through Raul Enriquez. … The most-awaited Liga showdown of the season, postponed twice by Hurricane Karl, finally went off Tuesday. Neither Cuauhtemoc Blanco’s current club (Irapuato) or his former team (host Veracruz) found the net. … Former Chivas USA forward Roberto Nurse scored for the third successive game for Cruz Azul Hidalgo, who held visiting Indios de Ciudad Juarez to a 1-1 draw. Indios’ scorer: Chivas USA forward Eduardo Lillingston, who is in Juarez on loan. … Blas Perez tallied twice as Leon, winless through its first eight games, won for the second straight week, beating Merida, 3-2, to escape the Liga cellar. Perez netted the winner in the 80th minute. … Alacranes de Durango climbed to third after rallying from an early deficit to beat Altamira, 4-2.
AMERICANS IN ACTION: Gomez’s and Ponce’s goals were the highlights this week among Americans. Ponce went 90 minutes at left back, but the only other Primera Division starter -- Pachuca’s Marco Antonio Vidal -- was pulled at halftime. Sammy Ochoa was a 74th-minute substitute for Estuadiantes Tecos, coming on just before Gomez, but the fourth American on hand, World Cup midfielder Jose Francisco Torres, saw no action. Joe Corona started up front for Club Tijuana but was forced out in the 33rd minute by injury.
Past week's games (home teams listed first)
Necaxa 2 (Gandin pen. 13, Pavlovich 36), Cruz Azul 1 (C. Gimenez pen. 66)
Gallos Blancos de Queretaro 0, Monterrey 0
Jaguares de Chiapas 2 (J. Rodriguez 12, C. Ochoa 69), San Luis 1 (T. Moreno 13)
Pachuca 3 (E. Benitez pen. 45, Cvitanich 60, H. Gomez 83), UAG Estudiantes Tecos 1 (Cejas 86)
Atlas 1 (A. Moreno 13), Puebla 0
Morelia 1 (Droguett 54), Toluca 2 (H. Mancilla 51, N. Calderon 62)
Pumas UNAM 2 (M. Bravo 24, 54), Atlante 2 (Fano 72, pen. 75)
UANL Tigres 1 (F. Acuña 46), Guadalajara 1 (M. Ponce 72)
America 3 (V. Sanchez 23, Vuoso 30, 38), Santos Laguna 2 (C. Benitez 4, F. Arce 42)
Group 1: Monterrey 18 points, Santos 18, UANL Tigres 12, Guadalajara 10, Necaxa 10, Estudiantes Tecos 8
Group 2: Toluca 16 points, America 15, San Luis 13, Pachuca 9, Atlante 8, Atlas 4
Group 3: Cruz Azul 21 points, Jaguares 12, Pumas UNAM 12, Puebla 11, Gallos Blancos 11, Morelia 10
Overall (top 8): 1. Cruz Azul 21 (+12 goal difference), 2. Monterrey 19 (+8), 3. Santos 18 (+9), 4. Toluca 16 (+4), 5. America 15 (+3), 6. San Luis 13 (-), 7. Jaguares 12 (+3), 8. Tigres 12 (+2). Playoffs: If season ended now, the top eight would qualify
Relegation percentage: 1. Necaxa (9 games/10 points) 1.1111; 2. Jaguares and Atlas (77/89) 1.1558 4. Gallos Blancos (43/50) 1.1628, 5. Atlante (77/91) 1.1818
This week's games (all times Pacific)
Jaguares at Estudiantes Tecos, 6:10 p.m.
America at Cruz Azul, 3 p.m.
Necaxa at Monterrey, 3 p.m.
Toluca at Santos Laguna, 5 p.m.
UANL Tigres at San Luis, 6:45 p.m.
Pachuca at Atlante, 7 p.m.
Morelia at Pumas UNAM, 10 a.m.
Gallos Blancos at Puebla, 10 a.m.
Atlas at Guadalajara, 2:30 p.m.
Schedule subject to changeLeading goalscorers
1. Christian Benitez (Santos) 10
2. Humberto Suazo (Monterrey) 8
3. Itamar Batista (UANL Tigres) 6
Carlos Ochoa (Jaguares) 6
Javier Orozco (Cruz Azul) 6
Matias Vuoso (America) 6
7. Sergio Blanco (Gallos Blancos) 5
Johan Fano (Atlante) 5
Christian Gimenez (Cruz Azul) 5
10. Edgar Benitez (Pachuca) 4
Dario Gandin (Necaxa) 4
Hector Mancilla (Toluca) 4
Gabriel Pereyra (Pubela) 4
Emanuel Villa (Cruz Azul) 4
Past week's results (home teams listed first)
CONCACAF Champions League: Columbus Crew (USA) 1 (Mendoza 87), Santos Laguna 0
CONCACAF Champions League: Cruz Azul 0, Toronto FC (Canada) 0
CONCACAF Champions League: Monterrey 3 (de Nigris 74, Suazo 75, L. Perez pen. 78), Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 2 (og S. Perez 28, Fucito 44)
CONCACAF Champions League: Olimpia (Honduras) 2 (O. Garcia 14, Rojas 25), Toluca 1 (Cuevas pen. 39)
This week’s games (all times Pacific)
CONCACAF Champions League: Arabe Unido (Panama) at Cruz Azul, 5 p.m.
CONCACAF Champions League: Monterrey at Saprissa (Costa Rica), 7 p.m.
CONCACAF Champions League: Toluca at Puerto Rico Islanders (Puerto Rico), 5 p.m.
CONCACAF Champions League: Joe Public FC (Trinidad & Tobago) at Santos Laguna, 7 p.m.
LIGA DE ASCENSO
Past week's results (home teams listed first)
Veracruz 0, Irapuato 0
Pumas Morelos 1 (S. Medina 5), La Piedad (J. Ramirez 13)
Albinegros de Orizaba 2 (J. Huerta 16, C.A. Vela 62), Guerreros FC 1 (H. Gimenez 1)
Alacranes de Durango 4 (I. Rey 43, M. Valdez 61, Eder Pacheco 65, Arvizu 92+), Altamira 2 (og C. Vazquez 19, E. Gonzalez 88)
Irapuato 2 (L. Cano 31, E. Gonzalez 54), Atlante Neza 1 (A. Villa 43)
Merida 2 (J. Ayala 27, J. Torres 37), Leon 3 (Bonells 22, B. Perez 50, 80)
Dorados de Sinaloa 3 (A. Molina 24, Mugabure 70, F. Flores 77), Veracruz 2 (M. Lopez 29, Mascorro 55)
UAT Correcaminos 1 (J. Silva 37), Club Tijuana XC 1 (R. Enriquez 2)
Lobos BUAP 2 (Sara 79, 93+), U de G Leones Negros 0
Cruz Azul Hidalgo 1 (Nurse 80), Indios de CJ 1 (Lillingston 47)
Standings: 1. Lobos BUAP 20 points, 2. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente 20, 3. Alacranes de Durango 18, 4. Veracruz 17, 5. Pumas Morelos 17, 6. Irapuato 17, 7. Indios de Ciudad Juarez 14, 8. Albinegros de Orizaba 14, 9. Altamira 13, 10. Dorados de Sinaloa 13, 11. La Piedad 13, 12. Cruz Azul Hidalgo 12, 13. UAT Correcaminos 10, 14. U de G Leones Negros 8, 15. Leon 8, 16. Guerreros FC 8, 17. Atlante Neza 7, 18. Merida FC 7
This week's games (all times Pacific)
Albinegros de Orizaba at Altamira, 4 p.m.
Lobos BUAP at Guerreros, 6:30 p.m.
Correcaminos at Leones Negros, 6:45 p.m.
Pumas Morelos at Indios CJ, 4 p.m.
Altante Neza at Veracruz, 5 p.m.
Merida at Dorados de Sinaloa, 6 p.m.
Alacranes de Durango at Leon, 6 p.m.
Cruz Azul Hidalgo at Club Tijuana XC, 1 p.m.
Irapuato at La Piedad, 2 p.m.
Schedule subject (and likely) to change