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MEXICO: Big finishes for Morelia, Tijuana, Monterrey

9/13/2011

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.

Tigres, which employs (but doesn't play) local hero Jonathan Bornstein (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS and UCLA/Chivas USA), routed struggling Pachuca, 5-0, as Hector Mancilla netted a hat trick. The club from suburban Monterrey is the Primera's lone unbeaten side, at 4-0-4, sits just one point behind first-place Guadalajara (5-1-2) and has posted three successive shutouts -- and five in eight games.

Brazilian coach Ricardo "El Tuca" Ferretti is a defensive specialist: Tigres conceded just nine goals and posted 10 shutouts in 17 regular-season matches last spring. In the previous Clausura, Pumas surrendered 10 goals and shut out 11 of 17 foes under Ferretti.

Pumas (3-3-2), which dismantled its roster after winning the title last May, is winless in its last seven games, all competitions, after beating San Luis, Morelia and Monterrey to start the campaign. The latest loss, a 4-2 decision to Gallos Blancos de Queretaro (with Carlos Bueno scoring a hat trick) was devastating.

The Cats fell from fifth to eighth in the table amid an injury crisis exasperated by red cards. Fernando Espinoza's 50th-minute dismissal Saturday was the fifth of the campaign.

“With the whole team, we had a perfect start,” goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios told Spanish press service EFE. “Now top players are injured or ejected and we've had a lack of reinforcements.”

2. CHANGE AT ATLAS

Guadalajara's Atlas is the worst side in the Primera Division, with just five points from a 1-5-2 mark, one behind promoted Tijuana, its primary competition -- at the moment, it seems -- for relegation next spring to the Liga de Ascenso.

The Zorros' winless streak hit five games when it couldn't hold onto a lead Saturday at home against San Luis, and the 1-1 tie ended Ruben Omar Romano's second tenure in charge of the club.

Who will succeed him is unclear. The job was offered to Juan Carlos Chavez, a former Atlas midfielder who represented Mexico at the 1994 World Cup and now coach's El Tri's under-20 side, but he said no, telling radio program "Super Gol de Frecuencia Deportiva" that the club is like a “shipwreck.”

“Atlas is in a very difficult situation economically and in the percentage table [to determine relegation],” he said. “Truthfully, I don't think it is the best time for me.”

3. CHIAPAS' CHARGE

The hottest side in the Primera Division might be Jaguares de Chiapas, which won, 2-0, at Estudiantes Tecos as Luis Gabriel Rey scored twice for the second straight game.

Jaguares (4-2-2) is unbeaten since starting the season with losses to superpowers Monterrey and Guadalajara. It has climbed to fourth in the Apertura standings after finishing last in the Clausura with a 3-12-2 record.

The club, founded in 2002, has won no trophies, and its current run won't cause too much concern among Chivas, Tigres and Cruz Azul -- the league's top three teams and the best bets to win the title -- but the bigger victory is in the fight to avoid relegation.

Jaguares has won 14 points, pushing it further from danger: It's got 11 points on Estudiantes Tecos, which is ahead of only Tijuana on the percentage table, and the Xolos' advantage is that only this fall/spring season will count. Every point Tijuana wins counts more because, by next May, it will have played just 34 matches. Relegation is determined by results over three seasons, and everybody else will have played 102 games.

  • QUICK KICKS

America's crisis worsened with a 1-0 loss at home against Atlante, and the 16th-place Aguilas (2-3-2) head into Wednesday's match against San Luis off successive shutout defeats. “We don't know what we play,” star striker Matias Vuoso told Mexican media. “That's the saddest part: A team like us should know how our opponents play and be able to come up with an answer.” ... Santos on Monday confirmed the hiring of former Mexican national-teamer Benjamin Galindo as technical director, and he is expected to join the club in Denver for Tuesday night's CONCACAF Champions League match against Major League Soccer champion Colorado Rapids. ... Sacramento-born Miguel Angel Ponce, first-place Guadalajara's first-choice left back, was hospitalized in Chile after suffering a concussion during the Mexican under-22 team's second game last week against Chile's U-25s. ... DaMarcus Beasley assisted Puebla's first goal against Monterrey. ... Morelia, which is home Tuesday night against the Galaxy in a Champions League clash, pushed its game against Gallos Blancos back from Friday to Sunday. ... There's a new leader in Liga de Ascenso. Toros Neza (4-0-2) moved two points ahead of La Piedad (4-2-0) and Leon (3-0-3) with a 2-0 win in Juarez over slipping Indios, with Carlos Cariño and Victor Guajardo scoring second-half goals. ... La Piedad, which had held the top spot for four weeks, couldn't overcome Ricardo Rocha's second-half strike in a 1-0 loss at Altamira. ... Roberto Saucedo and Diego Olsina scored two goals each as Correcaminos won, 4-3, at Celaya. Guillermo Clemens tallied twice for the losers.

  • THE NUMBERS

PRIMERA DIVISION

Last week's results (home teams listed first)

Jornada 8

Friday

Estudiantes Tecos 0, Jaguares de Chiapas 2 (Rey 59, 61)

Saturday

Cruz Azul 0, Morelia 1 (J. Rojas 92+)

Gallos Blancos de Queretaro 4 (C. Bueno 38, pen. 44, 56), Pumas UNAM 0

Santos Laguna 1 (R. Figueroa 51), Guadalajara 1 (A. Medina 73)

UANL Tigres 5 (H. Mancilla 18, 36, 78, L. Lobos 24, og S. Castillo 69), Pachuca 0

Atlas 1 (M. Romero 36), San Luis 1 (M. Arroyo 58)

Sunday

Puebla 3 (I. Romo 68, 79, R. Juarez 73), Monterrey 3 (Suazo pen. 11, og R. Juarez 58, L. Perez pen. 94+)

Toluca 1 (I. Alonso 66), Tijuana 1 (J. Sand 92+)

America 0, Atlante 1 (O. Martinez 48)

Standings: 1. Guadalajara 17 points; 2. UANL Tigres 16; 3. Cruz Azul 14; 4. Jaguares 14; 5. Monterrey 13; 6. Gallos Blancos 11; 7. Toluca 11; 8. Pumas UNAM 11; 9. San Luis 10; 10. Morelia 10; 11. Puebla 10; 12. Pachuca 10; 13. Estudiantes Tecos 9; 14. Atlante 9; 15. Santos Laguna 8; 18. America 8; 17. Tijuana 6; 18. Atlas 5

Relegation percentage: 1. Tijuana (8 games/6 points) 0.7500; 2. Estudiantes Tecos (76/80) 1.0526; 3. Atlas (76/83) 1.0921; 4. Gallos Blancos (76/85) 1.1184; 5. Jaguares and Atlante (76/91) 1.1974; 7. Puebla (76/92) 1.2105; 8. San Luis (75/92) 1.2267. Atop the list: 1. Cruz Azul and Monterrey (76/137) 1.8026; 3. Morelia (75/120) 1.6000; 4. Toluca (76/119) 1.5658

This week's games (all times Pacific)

Jornada 4

Wednesday

San Luis at America, 6:30 p.m.

Jornada 8

Saturday

Cruz Azul at Monterrey, 3 p.m.

America at Jaguares, 3 p.m.

Puebla at Guadalajara, 5 p.m.

Atlas at Pachuca, 5 p.m.

Santos at San Luis, 7 p.m.

UANL Tigres at Atlante, 7 p.m.

Sunday

Toluca at Pumas UNAM, 10 a.m.

Estudiantes Tecos at Club Tijuana, noon

Gallos Blancos at Morelia, 4 p.m.

Schedule subject to change

Goals leaders

1. Carlos Bueno (Gallos Blancos) 6

Hector Mancilla (UANL Tigres) 6

Luis Gabriel Rey (Jaguares) 6

4. Christian Benitez (America) 5

Dayro Moreno (Tijuana) 5

Luis Perez (Monterrey) 5

7. Ivan Alonso (Toluca) 4

Oribe Peralta (Santos) 4

9. Franco Arizala (Jaguares) 3

Michael Arroyo (San Luis) 3

Jaime Ayovi (Pachuca) 3

Christian Bermudez (Atlante) 3

Nestor Calderon (Toluca) 3

Luis Garcia (Puebla) 3

Giancarlo Maldonado (Atlante) 3

Humberto Suazo (Monterrey) 3

Emanuel Villa (Cruz Azul) 3

LIGA DE ASCENSO

Last week's results (home teams listed first)

Jornada 6

Friday

Altamira 1 (R. Rocha 70), La Piedad 0

Necaxa 1 (og E. Mendez 40), Lobos BUAP 1 (D. Ceballos 78)

Saturday

Cruz Azul Hidalgo 1 (Martini 51), Veracruz 1 (A. Acosta 12)

Merida 0, Pumas Morelos 0

Dorados de Sinaloa 2 (P. Torres 40, 74), Irapuato 1 (C. Pinto 54)

Indios de Ciudad Juarez 0, Toros Neza 2 (Cariño 47, V. Guajardo 75)

Leon 1 (A. Corona 34), Leones Negros 1 (F. Silva 88)

Celaya 3 (Ono 36, Clemens 79, 85), Correcaminos 4 (R. Saucedo 49, 56, Olsina 53, 66)

Standings: 1. Toros Neza 14; 2. La Piedad 12; 3. Leon 12; 4. Pumas Morelos 11; 5. Altamira 10; 6. Irapuato 9; 7. Dorados de Sinaloa 9; 8. Correcaminos 8; 9. Necaxa 8; 10. Leones Negros 7; 11. Lobos BUAP 6; 12. Cruz Azul Hidalgo 5; 13. Celaya 5; 14. Veracruz 5; 15. Indios de Ciudad Juarez 4; 16. Merida 3

This week's games (all times Pacific)

Jornada 7

Friday

Toros Neza at Correcaminos, 6:30 p.m.

Necaxa at Leones Negros, 6:45 p.m.

Saturday

Leon at Pumas Morelos, 2 p.m.

Merida at Irapuato, 5 p.m.

Altamira at Veracruz, 5 p.m.

Cruz Azul Hidalgo at Celaya, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday

Indios at Lobos, 10 a.m.

Dorados at La Piedad, 10 a.m.

Schedule subject to change

CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

This week's games (all times Pacific)

Group Stage, Round 3

Tuesday

A: Galaxy at Morelia, 5 p.m.

B: Santos Laguna at Colorado Rapids, 7 p.m.

Wednesday

C: Toronto FC at Pumas UNAM, 5 p.m.

D: Monterrey at Comunicaciones (Guatemala), 7 p.m.

Standings

A: 1. Galaxy 6 points; 2. Alajuelense (Costa Rica) 3; 3. Morelia 3; 4. Motagua 0

B: 1. Colorado Rapids 4; 2. Isidro Metapan 1; Santos 1; Real España (Honduras) 1

C: 1. FC Dallas 6; 2. Toronto FC 3; 3. Tauro 1; 4. Pumas UNAM 1

D: 1. Seattle Sounders 6; 2. Monterrey 3; 3. Comunicaciones (Guatemala) 3; 4. Herediano (Costa Rica) 0