Los Angeles Soccer: Atlante Neza
UANL Tigres and Pumas UNAM dominated the Mexican Primera Division's winter/spring Clausura tournament. Both will need miracles to remain in contention for the title.
Top-seeded Tigres and No. 2 Pumas were stomped in playoff openers this week, both dropping 3-1 decisions in quarterfinal first legs. The other group winner, Atlante, also was beaten.
Third-seeded Morelia was the only away side to win, with Joao Rojas setting up Manuel Perez and Rafael Marquez Lugo in a 2-1 triumph Thursday over America in Mexico City.
Guadalajara, in one of its best performances this season, routed Tigres in Zapopan, Jalisco, using second-half goals by Mario de Luna and Marco Fabian de la Mora, on a penalty kick, to pull away after Jesus Molina's diving header pulled the visitors even just after halftime.
Osvaldo Martinez and Walter Ayovi netted early goals, and Chilean star Humberto Suazo scored his 20th of the Apertura/Clausura as Monterrey, winner of the fall Apertura, buried Pumas. The Mexico City club lost its second in a row after falling just once in their first 16 Clausura games.
Cruz Azul also prevailed, beating Atlante, 2-1, on two Christian Gimenez goals. The Argentine standout could have had a hat trick, but Potros goalkeeper Arturo Muņoz stopped his penalty kick in the 68th minute. Former Chivas USA forward Giancarlo Maldonado scored for Atlante in the seventh minute, his third goal in as many games and fifth of the campaign.
Second legs will be played Saturday and Sunday.
LIGA DE ASCENSO: Alejando Molina's finish leaves Club Tijuana just 270 minutes, if all goes its way, from promotion to the Primera Division.
The best surprise might have been no surprise, with the big boys, mostly, nudging out the pretenders and has-beens for the last of eight postseason berths in the Mexican Primera Division's spring championship.
The result is an open liguilla, with any of the eight more than capable of capturing the trophy, that will begin with four potentially dynamite quarterfinal showdowns.
The matchups, with first legs Wednesday and Thursday, second legs Saturday and Sunday, and the higher seed home on the weekend:
- 1. UANL Tigres (10-2-5) vs. 8. Guadalajara (6-4-7)
- 2. Pumas UNAM (10-2-5) vs. 7. Monterrey (7-5-5)
- 3. Morelia (9-4-4) vs. 6. America (8-7-2)
- 4. Atlante (8-6-3) vs. 5. Cruz Azul (7-5-5)
A quick rundown on each series:UANL TIGRES VS. GUADALAJARA
Wednesday at Zapopan, Jalisco
Saturday at San Nicolas, Nuevo Leon
Tigres: Ricardo Ferretti's move last summer from Pumas to Tigres has paid off handsomely for the long-time stragglers, who won their final four games (while scoring 11 goals) to pip Pumas at the wire for the top seed. The club from suburban Monterrey is making its first postseason appearance in five campaigns, since the 2008 Apertura, and it might be the team to beat, not so much on the seeding as on its defensive know-how. Ferretti's a defensive genius, and his schemes enabled Tigres to shut out 11 foes and concede just nine goals in 17 Clausura games.
Chivas: Guadalajara, which has been to the playoffs just once the previous five seasons, spent the season trying to gain maturity and experience at a rapid rate, playing well enough to draw -- 13 of its first 20 and 16 of its first 27 games finished even -- but rarely well enough to win. Four successive victories in March into April, fueled by Erick Torres' and Marco Fabian de la Mora's form up top, presented Chivas as contenders, but they closed 0-2-1, with a late loss last weekend to Monterrey.