03/11/2014
 

RELEGATION ROUND-UP: WEEK 10


Relegation dogfights can bring out the best and the worst of a team. So often in football we see the two sides of the coin – a heroic charge to safety by one side balanced by a total implosion from another. In the Liga MX none of the three sides fighting relegation look like crumbling. As the pressure rises the quality of their performances keeps improving, as for the second weekend in succession Veracruz, Atlas and Atlante all turned in fearless performances and avoided defeat.

 

AS IT STOOD

 

Going into the weekend Atlante were still last in the relegation table, having briefly lifted themselves off the bottom last Friday evening. Michael Arroyo was their hero of Round Nine, scoring a stoppage time free-kick to give the Cancun side a 2-1 away win against Morelia. Atlas had responded to the pressure, sealing an unlikely 3-2 victory against Santos Laguna, before Liber Quinones had completed the drama when he grabbed a late equalizer to earn Veracruz a point at home to Club Tijuana.

 

Relegation Table – Thursday 6th March:

 

POSITION

TEAM

A-11

C-12

A-12

C-13

A-13

C-14

POINTS

GAMES

COEFFICIENT

15

Puebla

22

19

13

19

19

10

102

94

1.0851

16

Atlas

12

20

12

32

12

9

97

94

1.0319

17

Veracruz

0

0

0

0

20

6

26

26

1.0000

18

Atlante

19

16

20

13

12

12

92

94

0.9787

 

 

ROUND TEN ACTION

 

Veracruz started Round Ten’s action when they visited Club Leon on Friday night. The visitors faced a tough task – their hosts had been undefeated in their previous three Liga MX games and had started to find the form that won them the title last winter, while Veracruz had failed to pick up all three points since their Round Two victory against Atlante.

 

Despite their recent poor form Los Tiburones Rojos earned a spectacular 1-0 to end their dismal run of results and radically increase their chances of staying in the division. 


A poor game came alive in the second half. Matias Britos had already missed a 63rd minute penalty before Leiton Jimenez saw red, forcing Veracruz to play the final twenty minutes with only ten men. It was Mexican midfielder Luis Sanchez who scored the remarkable 92nd minute winner, smashing the ball home from an impossible angle and giving the away side an invaluable three points.

 

Saturday evening saw Atlas host Chiapas in Guadalajara. Chiapas have not been performing well in 2014, and the home side would have felt confident of getting something out of the fixture. Atlas took an early lead through Arturo González, and when Paraguayan forward José Ortigoza doubled the advantage just after halftime the three points looked assured. Chiapas refused to lie down, however, and a ten minute brace from Carlos Ochoa saw them pull back to 2-2.

 

Both sides had chances to win the game in the final twenty minutes but the score remained level. Although the point is a valuable one for Los Rojinegros they will disappointed to have conceded the two late goals and not come away with all three points.

 

Atlante were the final side of the three to play, hosting the rapidly collapsing Queretaro in Cancun. If fans thought Michael Arroyo’s Round Nine performance was impressive, this weekend eclipsed all expectations. The Ecuadorian international provided what was arguably the individual performance of the season, scoring all four goals in a thrilling 4-2 victory for the home side. The forward has now scored five times in his last two games and sees himself move to just one goal behind Martin Bravo and Enner Valencia in the leading scorers chart.

 

A tepid first half ended with Atlante leading 1-0, but after William Fernando da Silva drew Queretaro level in the 54th minute the game exploded into action. Michael Arroyo scored three times in fifteen minutes to put Atlante 4-1 ahead and all but guarantee the three points, and although Da Silva got his and Queretaro’s second with ten minutes remaining it was nothing but a mere consolation goal.

 

AS IT STANDS

 

Relegation Table – Monday 10th March:

 

POSITION

TEAM

A-11

C-12

A-12

C-13

A-13

C-14

POINTS

GAMES

COEFFICIENT

15

Veracruz

0

0

0

0

20

9

29

27

1.0741

16

Puebla

22

19

13

19

19

10

102

95

1.0737

17

Atlas

12

20

12

32

12

10

98

95

1.0316

18

Atlante

19

16

20

13

12

15

95

95

1.0000

 

 

Next weekend sees two of the relegation-threatened sides face each other, as Atlas travel to Veracruz for what could be a fate-deciding encounter. Both teams face tough games in Rounds Twelve and Thirteen, with Los Rojinegros playing Chivas then Cruz Azul and Los Tiburones Rojos facing America then Pachuca – meaning a Round Eleven defeat to their rival could be disastrous.

 

The relegation table can be deceiving. Although Veracruz have moved ahead of Puebla, the volatile nature of the coefficient for newly promoted sides still means they are far more at risk of demotion. A defeat next weekend to Atlas would see their coefficient drop back to 1.0357, whereas a defeat for Puebla against Tigres UANL would only see their coefficient drop to 1.0625.

 

Despite being in last place Atlante are the most in-form of the three sides, having picked up three wins and a draw from their last four games. Next up for them is a difficult trip to Mexico City to face the equally in-form Pumas UNAM. Away from the relegation fight Atlante have moved into sixth in the general table, while Atlas stay fourteenth and Veracruz stay last.

 
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03/04/2014
 

LIGA MX RELEGATION ROUND-UP: WEEK 9

 

This weekend’s round of fixtures marked the midway point in the Clausura 2014. With just nine games remaining until one side faces demotion to the Ascenso MX, we at Soccerly are taking the chance to introduce a new weekly column. ‘The Relegation Round-Up’ will be published every Tuesday and take a look back at the week’s biggest stories from the bottom of the league.

 

THE STORY SO FAR

 

This year’s relegation battle looks like becoming one of the closest in recent memory. Whilst Puebla appear safe, any one of Atlante, Atlas or Veracruz could yet find themselves in the Ascenso come August.

 

A tight battle looked unlikely just two months ago. While Atlas accrued a remarkable 32 points in last year’s Clausura, Atlante had a dismal 2013 and found themselves eight points adrift of "Los Zorros" and Veracruz going into the new year, with a significantly worse points-per-game coefficient than both their rivals.

 

A Round Two defeat to relegation rivals Veracruz appeared to seal their fate. Manager Ruben Israel was relieved of his duties, and most thought his replacement Pablo Marini would merely spend the following six months preparing the team for a swift return to the top flight in 2015. However, a 1-0 win over Atlas in the Argentinian’s first game in charge gave the Cancun-based side a new-found self-belief, starting a run that has seen them lose just twice in their last seven outings.

 

Veracruz had a creditable first six months back in Liga MX, ending the 2013 Apertura in 12th place with twenty points. Unfortunately for them, the aforementioned win over Atlante in early 2014 marked a high point – Los Tiburones Rojos have failed to win a single match since and are firmly rooted to the bottom of the form guide.

 

If it weren’t for their 32 points in the 2013 Clausura Atlas would probably already be playing in the Ascenso MX - the other four complete seasons that are considered on the relegation table have seen them amass just 56 points combined. Nonetheless, after failing to win any of their first seven games in 2014, back-to-back wins now means they still have a good chance of avoiding the drop.

 

Finally, it’s worth remembering that the relegation fight will not necessarily be decided on the football field. Last week’s news about Queretaro’s financial difficulties may yet see an eleventh hour reprieve for all three sides involved in the battle, with questions now being asked about Los Gallos Blancos’ continued participation in the tournament.

 

ROUND NINE ACTION

 

Round Nine saw one of the most dramatic weekends in the fight so far, as all three of the battling sides came away from difficult matches with something to show for their efforts.

 

Atlante kicked-off the weekend’s action with a trip to Morelia. After falling behind inside ten minutes thanks to Aldo Leao’s first goal of the season, few spectators would have predicted anything less than a routine home victory.

 

However, the away side worked hard were the better team for the majority of the game. After finally getting an equalizer in the 70th minute through Roberto Gutiérrez, they snatched a stoppage time winner through a well-taken Michael Arroyo free-kick. The remarkable win saw them move off the foot of the relegation table for the first time since summer 2013, though Veracruz would have to opportunity to send them back there on Saturday.

 

Friday’s early result in Morelia heaped the pressure onto Atlas in the late game, as "Los Rojinegros" faced the unenviable task of a trip to Torreón to play last season’s beaten semi-finalists Santos Laguna. The visitors fell behind thanks to an early Carlos Darwin Quintero goal, but two strikes either side of the half-hour mark by Rodrigo Millar and Maikon Souza Leite saw the away side take an unexpected lead into half-time.

 

The second half saw Santos push hard for an equalizer, yet without their talisman Oribe Peralta in the starting XI they looked short of ideas in the final third. Atlas wrapped up the win in the 85th minute through Rodrigo Millar’s second of the game, though there was still time for some late nerves when a 90th minute goal from Santos’ U-20s starlet Jose Abella reduced the deficit back to one. Ultimately, Atlas hung on for an historic 3-2 victory and their second victory in succession.

 

After unlikely wins for their two rivals on Friday, Veracruz headed into Saturday evening’s game at home to Club Tijuana in the final position in the relegation table, knowing that they needed at least a point to send Atlante back to the bottom.

 

Yet again the side battling relegation fell behind to an early goal. This time it was Xolos’ leading scorer Cristian Pellerano who put the visitors ahead. To their credit, Veracruz remained positive and continued to attack, no doubt buoyed by the knowledge that their opponents have failed to win an away game in over a year. As the game entered its final ten minutes it was Liber Quinones who made himself a hero, turning in Ángel Reyna’s corner from a tight angle to tie the game at 1-1.

 
AS IT STANDS

 

Following the weekend’s fixtures the relegation table remains tighter than ever.

 

Relegation Table – 4th March:

POSITION

TEAM

A-11

C-12

A-12

C-13

A-13

C-14

POINTS

GAMES

COEFFICIENT

15

Puebla

22

19

13

19

19

10

102

94

1.0851

16

Atlas

12

20

12

32

12

9

97

94

1.0319

17

Veracruz

0

0

0

0

20

6

26

26

1.0000

18

Atlante

19

16

20

13

12

12

92

94

0.9787

 

Atlante play the troubled Queretaro in Cancun in Round Ten – a win would see their coefficient jump to 1.0000 and would almost certainly lift them off the foot of the table, especially considering Veracruz travel to the resurgent Club Leon. Atlas also have an easier looking tie, playing Chiapas FC in Guadalajara. Following their recent upturn in form they will be confident of earning at least a point.

 

While Atlante remain last in the relegation table, their excellent 2014 form has lifted them to eighth place in the general table. If they can continue their impressive rate of points scoring to avoid the drop they may yet be unlikely candidates for a place in the Liguilla come May. Atlas’ win moves them to fourteenth overall and Veracruz remain last, two points adrift of Tigres UANL.

 
1
   
03/03/2014
 
Queretaro President Adolfo Rios, shown above, has to answer questions regarding Queretaro's finances that might prove to spice up a relegation battle that does not need any more drama.  
 
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02/27/2014
 
With one more match remaining in the group stage of the Copa MX, Chivas of Guadalajara are practically eliminated, with little chance of reaching the quarterfinals after their 1-2 loss at home on Wednesday night to second division Dorados of Sinaloa.

With a heavy Tijuana Xolos and Xolos U-20 roster, Dorados went into the Omnilife Stadium in Guadalajara and walked away with a 1-2 win that sealed the Group 6 top spot, as well as a place in the quarterfinals. Chivas must now beat this same Dorados squad in Sinaloa in the final match day of the group stage in order to have a chance at one of the two best second place tickets. 

Both Dorados of Sinaloa goals came from Tijuana Xolos players who have been sent to Dorados to accumulate playing time in the Cup Competition. Since the Xolos are participating in the CONCACAF Champions League they do not participate in the domestic Cup Competition; therefore they are allowed to send their players to play for their second division affiliate. 

San Diego born and Xolos youth product Alejandro Guido scored the first goal of the match in the first half to give the visitor the lead. Chivas tied the game early in the second half thanks to an Abraham Coronado penalty.

The Guadalajara team would search for a winning goal almost the entire second half, but it was on loan Xolos striker Emmanuel Cerda who found the winner for the visitors. Cerda received a through ball from another Tijuana youth product Bruno Piceno and didn't hesitate to bury the ball in the net. 

Other Xolos players on the Dorados roster for this match were young American forward Paul Arriola, central defender Oliver Ortiz, and the nephew of Xolos veteran Fernando Arce; Edgar Villegas. 

Other Week 5 Copa MX results: 

Cruz Azul Hidalgo 0-0 Altamira
Atletico San Luis 0-0 Correcaminos
Lobos BUAP 1-0 Alebrijes 
Delfines del Carmen 0-4 Merida FC
Atlante 1-1 Pumas UNAM 
Atlas 3-2 Queretaro 
Celaya 4-1 Necaxa
Veracruz 3-0 Chiapas FC 
Leones Negros 0-3 Estudiantes Tecos 
Monterrey 2-3 Pachuca 
Tigres UANL 8-0 Puebla 

Also see:  
 
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02/23/2014
 

It was a tough week in Mexico for the American exports as only a few of them were able to help their teams to get a positive result. Others had to settle for a few minutes in a substitute role while some didn't even make the 18-man roster.  Here is a round up of the American exports who play in Mexico after yet another week of Liga MX action.

Queretaro 1-3 Cruz Azul

 

Despite still not making his debut with the first team, Michael Farfan continues to see some action with Cruz Azul’s U20 side. This week the former Philadelphia Union player amassed 90 minutes in his team’s 2-1 win against Veracruz.

 

Xolos 0-3 Chiapas FC

 

It was a terrible night for the American armada in the Tijuana squad, who suffered a shocking 3-0 loss at home against Chiapas FC.

 

The only American in the starting lineup was weekly starter Edgar Castillo, who began the match in an unfamiliar left-wing back role as Xolos coach Cesar Farias decided to go with a five man defensive line that collapsed in the first half. Castillo, who played the entire 90 minutes, struggled with the Chiapas attackers while having an anonymous performance offensively.

 

Joe Corona was brought in at the 45th minute for the start of the second half as an attacking midfielder, attempting to feed the Xolos strikers with through balls that ultimately came short of the end product.

 

Paul Arriola was the second American to be thrown into the battle in the 64th minute in a central midfield role, but struggled throughout the match as he was taken away from his usual position as winger where he takes advantage of his speed by racing down the line.

 

Finally, Herculez Gomez, who has been the target of criticism by Tijuana fans in recent weeks, was subbed in at the 77th minute in a move to try and salvage what was left of the match.

 

Greg Garza continues to be an unused substitute for Tijuana, while new signing Amando Moreno was left out of the 18-man squad.

 

Meanwhile, in the U20 match between Xolos and Chiapas, Gabriel Farfan played the entire 90 minutes of the 1-1 draw between both sides. Farfan has yet to play a single minute with the first team.

 

 Tigres 1-0 Veracruz

 

Jose Francisco Torres came into the match in the 73rd minute to help protect Tigres' minimal lead against Veracruz. The American continues to have a sporadic role with the first team, being mostly used as a regular substitute to close out his team’s matches.

 

Atlante 0-0 Puebla

 

Both DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco were in the starting lineup for Puebla’s visit against Atlante.

 

Orozco, who played the entire 90 minutes of the match, was solid in his right center-back role, neutralizing any attempt from the opposing Atlante players that never really had a comfortable shot on goal. Orozco also ended up being shown a yellow card in the 86th minute for time wasting.


Meanwhile, Beasley played his usual left-wing back role where despite having a solid performance in the back-line, his offensive contributions were practically nonexistent before being subbed out in the 78th minute.


As for Jonathan Bornstein, the Atlante defender surprisingly came in as a sub in the 80th minute as Atlante desperately looked for a late winner.





 
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02/17/2014
 
Not a good week overall for the American exports in Liga MX. Tijuana continues to lose on the road, Puebla suffered another defeat with a last minute goal while Atlante managed to earn three points in their hopes of surviving relegation. 

Santos 3-2 Xolos

Two Tijuana players, Edgar Castillo and Herculez Gomez, returned to Torreon to face their former Santos teammates. 

Castillo was the only American to start the match and play the entire 90 minutes for Xolos. Playing in his usual left-back position, Castillo was able to help out on attack, but shared the blame in Santos' second goal of the match by losing sight of Colombian Darwin Quintero, who sneaked behind him and ended up serving the ball to Mauro Cejas whovput the score 2-0 for the home side. 

Joe Corona was the second American export to hop into the match by coming on as a sub in the 60th minute. With the score 3-2 in favor of Santos. Corona had a chance to tie the match for Tijuana when he controlled the ball inside the penalty box, shook off a defender and got his shot away however, Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez continued to be a factor in the match stopping Corona's attempt. 

Finally, Herculez Gomez was able to get on the action by coming in at the 64th minute, but failed to actually factor into the match. Gomez did have an opportunity in the final stages but was denied by an excellent tackle from Osvaldo Alanis to prevent the former Santos-man to get his shot away. 

Just like last week against Monterrey, both Greg Garza, on the bench, and Paul Arriola, who wasn't called up, did not receive any minutes of playtime. 

Cruz Azul 1-0 Puebla 

While Michael Orozco continues to solidify his place in the Puebla starting line-up as a regular, DaMarcus Beasley was unable to start the match from the get-go. 

Orozco, along with Puebla's defensive line, had been able to keep Cruz Azul quiet for almost the entire match....until Marco Fabian produced a moment of brilliance by scoring perhaps the best goal of the week in the final minute of the match. 

Meanwhile, Beasley was brought in for the second half of the match to play on his usual left-wing position. Beasley played a vital part in the build up for the team's best opportunity on goal and also had the chance to put Puebla ahead before Fabian's goal, but a goal-line clearance prevented the American from tapping in the go ahead score for Puebla. 

Pachuca 0-1 Atlante

Atlante defender Jonathan Bornstein was brought in at the 73rd minute to protect his team's minimal lead in what ended up being three valuable points in the relegation race.  

Chiapas 0-0 Tigres

Jose Torres was brought off the bench in the 78th minute in a boringly discrete match. Both sides kept the goals stashed away for the entire 90 minutes, which means Tigres remains at the bottom of the league for another week. 

Meanwhile, Gabriel Farfan is yet to make his Liga MX debut, but did start with the Chiapas U-20 side as he continues to adapt to Mexican football. 
 
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