Americans aim for playoff success in Mexican liguilla

GomezSL (Getty Images)

The Mexican clausura liguilla kicks off Wednesday night, and this year's edition has quite the strong American tie to it.

Each of the four quarterfinal matchups contains at least one team with an American presence, headlined by top-seeded Santos Laguna and in-form striker Herculez Gomez. High-powered Santos are on a quest to make sure they do not end their season empty-handed after dropping the CONCACAF Champions League final to Monterrey and losing the Apertura liguilla final to Tigres UANL. 

That is just one of the storylines entering the top-flight playoffs in Mexico. Here's a closer look at the quarterfinal matchups and the American ties to each one:

SANTOS LAGUNA vs. JAGUARES

Americans involved: Herculez Gomez (Santos), Adrian Ruelas (Jaguares)

First Leg: Thursday, 8 p.m., Azteca America

Gomez had a standout season for Santos, which finished in first in the regular season. Gomez scored five goals in league play in addition to his six in CONCACAF Champions League play, and for Santos, the liguilla presents a chance to finish the season on a high note after losing the CCL final in heartbreaking fashion to Monterrey.

Ruelas, a former U.S. U-20 forward, is on loan to Jaguares from Santos Laguna, but has rarely played for the club, making just one appearance this season.

MONTERREY vs. TIJUANA

Americans involved: Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza (Tijuana)

First Leg: Wednesday, 11:30 p.m., Azteca America

Each member of the Tijuana Trio has become a regular on the matchday roster for the club that drew the two-time defending CONCACAF Champions League winners in the opening round. Los Rayados' multi-faceted attack will surely put Edgar Castillo, who has locked down his place in the starting lineup, to the test. Should Castillo hold his own, he could merit yet another look from Jurgen Klinsmann, whose options at left back are growing with Eric Lichaj, Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson all showing their ability to perform at the position.

AMERICA vs. PACHUCA 

Americans involved: Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca)

First Leg: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m., Telefutura

Torres quietly put together a solid season for Pachuca, and a strong postseason showing could fortify his place on Klinsmann's roster for the U.S. training camp he'll hold in a couple of weeks ahead of the five upcoming national team matches. While his passing and attacking qualities are vital to Pachuca's movement, Torres' biggest contribution may come on the defensive end, where he'll have to deal with Mexican attacker Christian Bermudez and a team that posted the third-most goals in the league behind Santos Laguna and Monterrey.

MORELIA vs. TIGRES UANL

Americans involved: Jonathan Bornstein, Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres)

First Leg: Thursday, 10 p.m., Univision Deportes

OK, so Bornstein has barely played for Tigres since joining the club, and his only appearances this season came in Copa Libertadores play. For Ocegueda, a Mexican-American U-20 left back, seeing the field or the matchday roster is also a rarity. Even so, their club was neck-and-neck with Santos until being on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline to the top seed and could be the lower-seeded side that makes a run at the domestic crown, which would be their second of the season after capturing the Apertura title.

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Who do you see winning the liguilla? Do you have more of an interest considering which U.S. players are involved? Which U.S. player do you think has the most to gain by a strong postseason showing?

Share your thoughts below.

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18 Responses to Americans aim for playoff success in Mexican liguilla

  1. Ben says:

    The new massive pop-up video ads are not OK, Ives. I’m a long-time reader, but may have to drop SBI entirely from my list if this continues.

  2. Michael F. says:

    Can someone explain the mexican season to me? I’m not following the Aperatura and the clausura liguilla, etc.

    Thanks.

  3. Mig22 says:

    Check Mexican Soccer in Wikipedia for a full explanation.

    Winter Season = Apertura (opening)
    Spring Season = Clausura (closing)

    Playoffs – La Liguilla (little league?)

    Looks like 8 teams make the playoffs. Check the Wiki for more.

    Cheers

  4. Mig22 says:

    Pop-up blocker not catching them? I’m only getting a very occasional one.

  5. NE Matt says:

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Top summary pretty much sums it up

  6. Darwin says:

    18 teams in the league, each team plays each other once, 17 games. This is the Apertura, the beginning league (starts in July).

    The top 8 teams go on to the Liguilla, (quarterfinals, semifinals, final) where each round is a home and an away game. Winners advance on aggregate.

    Then there is a break for the month of December.

    Then the 18 teams play each other again, playing 17 games. This is the Clausura, beginning in January. Top 8 teams go on to the Liguilla.

    So there are two regular season winners and two liguilla winners per year (4 champs!).

    After Apertura, Liguilla 1, Clausura, Liguilla 2, average points per game is calculated across all competitions, and the team with the fewest points per game average is relegated to the second division.

  7. Darwin says:

    18 teams in the league, each team plays each other once, 17 games. This is the Apertura, the beginning league (starts in July).

    The top 8 teams go on to the Liguilla, (quarterfinals, semifinals, final) where each round is a home and an away game. Winners advance on aggregate.

    Then there is a break for the month of December.

    Then the 18 teams play each other again, playing 17 games. This is the Clausura, beginning in January. Top 8 teams go on to the Liguilla.

    So there are two regular season winners and two liguilla winners per year (4 champs!).

    After Apertura, Liguilla 1, Clausura, Liguilla 2, average points per game is calculated across all competitions, and the team with the fewest points per game average is relegated to the second division.

  8. dan says:

    Much better to have a few ads than to have to pay for using the site. It’s one of the best in American soccer, if not THE best, so I have no issue at all with a few ads, considering that this is all free.

  9. Dimidri says:

    Basically right, relegation is a bit different though-
    Currently, the relegated team is determined by computing the points-per-game-played ratio for each team, considering all the games played by the team during the last two seasons (four tournaments). The team with the lowest ratio is relegated. For teams recently promoted, only the games played since their promotion are considered (two or four tournaments).

  10. Kevin_Amold says:

    Thorough. Thanks.

  11. Michael F. says:

    Thanks, Mig22. I should have thought of that. Appreciate it!

  12. Michael F. says:

    Wow, thanks guys. Any idea why they don’t just have one longer season like the rest of the world? I know…Wikipedia! lol.

  13. BSU SC says:

    I love watching the Mexican League but I’ve never been a big fan of the format. I’ve always thought that they should

    1. Combine the Apertura and Clausura into one title (regular season champion)

    2. Have one Liguilla tournament (playoff champion).

    3. If the same team wins both, they’re the champions of Mexico. If 2 different teams win the regular season (Apertura/Clausura) and the playoff (Liguilla), then have a super cup game that determines the true champion of Mexico.

    Just an idea. I would actually like to see MLS do something similar.

  14. weaksauce says:

    You can put all the americans you want on the mexican teams and I still WONT watch the FMF

  15. Chuck says:

    $$$$$$$

    Two playoffs per year make more buck than one.

  16. Brendan says:

    That’s your problem bud. You are one insignificant reader. Stop using internet explorer and actually get a pop-up blocker for your browser.

  17. Brendan says:

    Thanks for the news. You will be sorely missed. All the teams down here in Mexico are crying that you aren’t watching them. What could we possibly do to get you to consider?!

  18. Rob says:

    Hmmm….i’ve never thought of the regular season superlider as champs. I’m pretty sure there are only two champions per year, the Apertura and Clausura. Very rare for a team to win both…I think that’s only happened twice since the short seasons were introduced.