By MIKE GRAMAJO
As the 2013 Clausura comes to its final week before the Liguilla, Monterrey look to build from their recent CONCACAF Champions League three-peat and clinch the last playoff spot in the Mexican table.
Los Rayados earned their first road victory of the season last Saturday, beating Tigres 1-0 in the Clasico Regionmontano, which kept their playoffs hopes alive. Monterrey only need a draw against Cruz Azul to ensure a place in the playoffs, as eighth-place Queretaro are already condemned to relegation, disqualifying them from the Mexican postseason.
Club Tijuana’s magical domestic run has fallen back to earth, as their form since March has ended any chance of them qualifying for the playoffs. Xolos, while still alive in the Copa Libertadores, have lost six of their last eight matches, and sit in 11th place in the Liga MX table.
Here’s a closer look at some of this weekend’s Liga MX matches:
AMERICA LOOK TO TOP TIGRES
The race for top of the table comes down to the final match day, when first place Club America host second-place UANL at the Azteca Stadium on Saturday. Though both teams are tied in points, America hold a three-goal differential over UANL, which puts Los Aguilas at the top of the table.
Playing at Pachuca last Saturday, America used a seven minute second half hat-trick by Christian Benitez to help propel them over Los Tuzos, 4-2. In the last match between Tigres and America, the two drew, 1-1, in Nueva Leon.
UANL enter the postseason in fine form, going unbeaten in their last 13 games, though they are 2-2-1 in their last five. America are currently unbeaten in eight matches, with top scorer Benitez scoring 12 goals in 14 appearances.
SANTOS LAGUNA FACES MORELIA IN TOP-FIVE CLASH
Fourth-place Santos Laguna hope to get over their shocking loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League last Wednesday when they host fifth-place Monarcas Morelia on Saturday.
Both sides need a win to give themselves an advantage in the upcoming playoffs, likely giving viewers a wide open match. A Santos win coupled with either an Atlas, Tigres, or America loss can send Los Guerreros as high as second place in the standings. A win for Monarcas would send them into fourth place above Santos.
When the two teams met in the Apertura season, Monarcas defeated Santos, 2-0, with two goals from forward Miguel Sabah, who is now on Chivas de Guadalajara.
Here’s the full list of matches for Week 17, complete with TV schedule:
LIGA MX SCHEDULE (Clausura Week 17)
8:30 pm – Azteca America, ESPN Deportes – Chiapas vs. Pachuca
10:30 pm – Univision Deportes – Tijuana vs. Chivas Guadalajara
6pm – Univision - Club America vs. UANL Tigres
8pm – UniMas – Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul
8pm – Univision Deportes – Santos vs Morelia
10pm – Univision Deportes – Atlas vs. Leon
10pm – Univision Deportes 2 – Queretaro vs. Puebla
1pm – Univision – Toluca vs. San Luis
7pm – Univision Deportes – Atlante vs. UNAM Pumas