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01/31/2014
 

Last season’s Cup Champions, Morelia hosted last season’s League Champions Leon to kick off Week 5 action of the LIGA Bancomer MX. Both teams played out an entertaining 0-0 draw at the Estadio Morelos and will have to settle for a point apiece.


At the end of the night it will be the visiting Leon who will feel as if they dropped two points, while the hosts will have the slight satisfaction of earning a point. For a little over 20 minutes Morelia played with a man down due to the 69th minute ejection of Jorge Zarate.


The reigning league champions Leon started the match off with their usual trademark early pressure on their opponent. By the 10th minute of play they had already constructed several dangerous opportunities; like in the 4th minute when Sebastian Maz received a through ball and sent in the cross to the second post where Mauro Boselli was just short on his sliding effort to push the ball into the goal, or in the 7th minute when Morelia goalkeeper Carlos Rodriguez was forced into a good save to keep the score level.


After withstanding the opening 10 minutes of pressure the home side started to settle in to the game and in the 15th minute had their first clear chance on goal when Chilean striker Hector Mancilla dribbled into the box, cut through Leon defender Jonny Magallon and shot the ball on goal. Leon goalkeeper William Yarbrough had to come up with the save.


The Monarcas goalkeeper Rodriguez kept on frustrating the Leon attack as the half carried on with big saves in the 20th and 36th minute on shots from Maz and Carlos “Gulit” Peña respectfully. He also denied Peña on another shot right before halftime and started to take on a protagonist role.


For the second half Leon kept the pressure on Morelia and the chances kept coming, but the home side was able to orchestrate a few chances of their own and the game took a nice back and forth rhythm.


In the 49th minute Colombian forward Duvier Riascos dribbled past a couple of Leon defenders and decided to have a go from outside of the box, but his shot was rushed and came off too weak and wide. One minute later the Leon midfielder Peña came close to scoring once again, but his header went right above the crossbar.


In the 56th minute Morelia’s Christian Valdez had a wide open shot after receiving a pass in the middle of the box; but he sent his shot over the crossbar.


The enjoyable back and forth rhythm all came to an end when in the 69th minute the center referee took his red card out of his pocket and showed it to Jorge Zarate for a rash challenge in midfield. Morelia had to send the entire team deep into their own field to defend against the onrush of the Leon attack.  


For the final 20 minutes Leon kept sending wave after wave of attacks, but the lack of finishing in their front men ended up costing the visitors two points on the night.


Next up for Morelia is a trip to Colombia to face Independiente Santa Fe in the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday night and then return to Mexico where they’ll travel to Guadalajara to face Atlas next Saturday night. As for Leon they will host Pumas UNAM next Saturday night.


 
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01/22/2014
 
This Friday marks the fourth week of competition in the Clausura 2014 tournament of Liga MX. And, while all the attention is being thrown at referees and their love for Club America, a few thousand kilometers to the north, just a stone throw's away from the border fence with the United States, an interesting match will be played between Tijuana's Xolos and Morelia's Monarcas. 

The game is scheduled for Friday January 24 at 7:30pm local time (10:30pm EST) from the Estadio Caliente in Tijuana, Baja California. The match can be seen live on Azteca America and ESPN Deportes in the USA. 

Xolos arrived in Mexico's first division in 2011, just four years after their birth as a professional team. Since their promotion three years ago a lot of amazing things have happened for Tijuana. Managers and players have come and gone, Estadio Caliente is now finally starting to look like it actually houses a top level team, Xolos even went on to win the 2012 Apertura tournament, not to mention that just this summer they were playing the quarterfinals of the Libertadores Cup. But while all those amazing things were brewing, Tijuana couldn't manage to do one thing: win a match against Morelia.

Five opportunities have gone by and Xolos has only managed to scrape two draws in their rivalry against Monarcas. The last time the two teams met was in August at Estadio Morelos where Hector Mancilla scored a double before Fidel Martinez put Tijuana's only goal on the board. In fact, two of the three times they have lost to Morelia have been at Estadio Caliente.

After last week's second half meltdown where Xolos handed on a silver platter their first loss of the season to Pachuca, the border team now sees itself in need to guard its ground against their worst enemy, and while Tijuana has acknowledged their shortcomings when it comes to Morelia, ironically enough, it was after they lost to them in April of 2013 that they started their their current unbeaten streak at home totaling 18 matches, 11 of them league, 5 Copa Libertadores, and 2 CONCACAF Champions League. 
 
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