Los Angeles Soccer: Benjamin Galindo
Luis Fuentes' goal 10 minutes into the second half of Saturday's Clasico Capitalino stood up for a 1-0 triumph at Estadio Olimpico Universitario and boosted the Cats (6-3-2) from fifth in the standings, past Jaguares, Cruz Azul, Guadalajara and UANL Tigres.
Pumas is 5-0-1 the past three weeks, all competitions, after failing to win in its previous seven matches.
A rich race for the regular-season title and eight playoff berths looks set with six games to go. Pumas' lead on Jaguares is just a point, Tigres, Cruz Azul and Guadalajara are just another point back, and three more teams are another point behind. Another five clubs are two or three points out of the top eight.
Not in that group of contenders is America, which hasn't won since Aug. 21 and sits 16th in the standings with a 2-5-4 record.
- THE TOP 3
The September skid that knocked Guadalajara from the top of the Apertura standings down to fifth has cost technical director Jose Luis Real his job.
Chivas on Monday canned Real and replaced him with former Mexican national-teamer Fernando Quirarte, a center back who played 11 seasons for the club in the 1970s and '80s and has coached at Santos Laguna, Atlas and Jaguares.
The Goats have won just once in six games since late August, and Saturday's loss to Gallos Blancos was their second in a row at home and extended their winless streak to four games. They were 5-0-1 after beating Monterrey on Aug. 20 and have fallen behind Pumas, Jaguares, Tigres and Cruz Azul, but just two points off the lead.
The most important moments were at the end for three Mexican Primera Division teams over the weekend. Stoppage-time strikes delivered a huge win for Morelia and gave Club Tijuana and Monterrey a share of the points in their matches.
Morelia (3-3-1), which still has a game in hand over most of the field stemming from the gunshots-halted clash last month at Santos Laguna, vaulted from 15th to 10th with a stunning 1-0 decision at Cruz Azul. Joao Rojas scored the 92nd-minute decider from Aldo Ramirez's penetrating feed.
Tijuana (1-4-3), which has been hamstrung by bad luck more so than bad form, was set to go down at Toluca after conceding another questionable penalty kick, but Jose Sand headed home Richard Ruiz's cross in the 92nd to provide a 1-1 draw.
Monterrey's push for a point was more dramatic. The Rayados (4-3-1), down to 10 men after Jesus Zavala's 21st-minute red card surrendered a two-goal advantage against Puebla as former Chivas USA forward Isaac Romo tallied twice in the second half. They were redeemed by a controversial penalty-kick call, and Luis Perez slotted home from the spot in the 94th for a 3-3 tie.
- THE TOP 3
1. TALE OF TWO ROUTS
UANL Tigres was the top team in the spring Clausura, winning the regular-season title before an upset loss in the first round of the playoffs. Pumas UNAM was crowned champion. They were on different sides of blowouts that appear to confirm their destinies this fall.
Santos Laguna on Thursday offered its vacant coaching job to Benjamin Galindo, according to reports in Mexico, after interviewing Bradley earlier this week, but an Egyptian federation spokesman told Major League Soccer's website that the Pharaohs job is Bradley's if he wants it.
Bradley, who built Chivas USA into an MLS power before a nearly-five-year tenure as U.S. coach that ended in late July, had discussions last month in Cairo about taking charge of Egypt's national team, which has won the past three African Cups of Nations but was eliminated last weekend from contention for next year's edition.
“Everything is still here for Bob Bradley,” an Egyptian soccer spokesman said. “We hope, maybe, we can have the answer next week. We hope he will be the coach.”
Egypt wants Bradley to take its team to the 2014 World Cup; the Pharaohs have played in only two World Cup finals, in 1934 and 1990.
Galindo, 50, is a former midfielder -- he was part of Mexico's 1994 World Cup contingent -- who has played for and coached Santos. He was in charge of the Torreon-based club in 2006 and also has coached Guadalajara, Cruz Azul and Atlas.
It's taken just two weeks to turn things upside down in Mexico's Primera Division.
Atop the Clausura standings following wins lopsided (5-0 over Morelia) and tight (2-1 over Gallos Blancos) is Atlas, which won only three games en route to an 18th-place finish (among 18 clubs) in the fall Apertura.
At the bottom, in 18th: Apertura champion Monterrey.
Atlas is 2-0-0 after Alfredo Moreno, at the top of the box, redirected Edgar Pacheco's 82nd-minute blast Saturday to beat Gallos Blancos, 2-1.
"I think keeping our feet on the ground is something that has to work every day ...," Galindo told Mexican sports daily Esto. "These two games have been satisfying, but we must continue. There are many details to improve, and we can't rest."
Also 2-0-0 is San Luis, which routed Puebla, 3-0, behind two Wilmer Aguirre goals. Atlas plays at Necaxa on Friday, and San Luis is home Saturday against Guadalajara.
Monterrey, outclassed by San Luis in its opener (and missing manager Victor Manuel Vucetich, suspended three games after his ejection in that opener), was overrun by Estudiantes Tecos. Mauro Cejas scored twice and Ramon Morales set up two in Tecos' 3-2 victory. Sergio Santana scored both Monterrey goals, his first since Aug. 14.
Atlas, the worst team in the fall, opened the second half of the Mexican Primera Division season with a stunning romp that underscores coach Benjamin Galindo's savvy eye for talent.
The Guadalajara-based club, which made several major additions to its roster during the winter break, opened the spring Clausura on Saturday with a 5-0 domination of visiting Morelia.
Gerardo Espinoza matched his Apertura goals total, scoring twice, to lead the Zorros. Former Chicago Fire defender Wilman Conde scored in his Mexican League debut, and 19-year-old Christian Diaz (in his first top-tier game in more than a year) and Daniel Osorno (with his first of the season) also tallied.
“I congratulated the guys in the locker room because [there was] not a single player who did not have a good performance. It speaks well of the commitment that exists with the team,” Galindo told reporters afterward.
“It's a good win which gives us confidence, but that's all. What we have to do is keep working with the same commitment that we had during the preseason.”
Atlas went through three coaches in a 3-10-4 fall campaign, but Galindo, a former Mexican national-teamer, went shopping in four countries to strengthen the club. Conde, Brazilian midfielder Lucio Flavio (from Botafogo) and midfielder Lucas Ayala (from UANL Tigres) contributed to the win Saturday.
BIG BOYS BEATEN: America got robbed. Monterrey got jobbed.
America, a sure title contender, saw two perfectly good goals erased on mistaken offside calls in a 2-0 home loss to Pachuca, which got goals midway through each half by Yulian Anchico and then Edgar Benitez.
Monterrey, which last month won the Apertura title, was outclassed at home by San Luis, also 2-0 -- with the Gladiadores' first goal, by Osmar Mares in the 71st minute, clearly offside. Juan Carlos Medina's sweet chip in stoppage, with the Rayados down a man, doubled the advantage.