Lobos climb after smackdown of Xolos who tumble

Lobos BUAP’s upset victory at Tijuana roiled the waters in the middle of our rankings.

The top three spots in the Viva Liga MX Power Rankings remained unchanged as No. 3 Monterrey became the third team to clinch a playoff berth, eking by Veracruz at home.

No. 4 Cruz Azul switched spots with América, while Tijuana’s stumble against Lobos BUAP could prove to be quite costly and the Xolos tumbled two spots here this week.

The Lobos – this week’s biggest risers – still have an outside shot at the postseason and coach Francisco Palencia has them believing they deserve to be in the Liguilla.

After 15 games, here are our Power Rankings:

1. León (-)

The Esermaldas easily dispatched Atlas, winning their 12th consecutive game. The streak matches the record set in 1934-35 by Necaxa during Mexico’s amateur era.

2. Tigres (-)

The Tigres twice came back from 2-goal deficits to tie Morelia, but dropping points probably cost them a shot at the top seed. However, leading scorer André-Pierre Gignac was back on the pitch after 6 weeks in dry dock … and he looked good.

3. Monterrey (-)

Playing with scrubs ahead of Tuesday’s first leg match of the Concacaf Champions League Final against the Tigres, the Rayados scraped by last place Veracruz and clinched a spot in the Liguilla.

4. Cruz Azul (+1)

The Cementeros held off 10-man UNAM to move back into the top 4. The Blue Machine, with an 8-game unbeaten streak, appears to be getting hot at the right time.

5. América (-1)

The Aguilas ruined their chances of finishing in the top 4 with the loss to Toluca, but their bigger concern remains the lack of scoring from their forwards.

6. Pachuca (-)

The Tuzos almost got their first road win of the season, but they couldn’t find the winner against 10-man Necaxa. Their road woes could be their Achilles’ heel in the playoffs.

7. Necaxa (-)

The Rayos will rue the loss of points against Pachuca, especially after 3 goals were (properly) annulled for offside. A difficult road trip to Monterrey is up next.

8. Toluca (+1)

Coach Ricardo La Volpe has the Diablos chasing a playoff spot and they looked quite impressive on the counter against América. Toluca fired off 19 shots against the tough Aguilas defense.

9. Puebla (+1)

The Camoteros are holding onto a playoff spot with two games remaining, but those two games are at home against the Tigres and at Tijuana.

10. Tijuana (-2)

The Xolos stumbled badly, losing to the visiting Lobos BUAP. Even so, they have their playoff destiny in their own hands. Wins at Morelia and against Puebla will earn them the No. 8 seed.

Lobos stun Xolos

Tijuana players trudge off the field at Estadio Caliente after losing to the Lobos Friday night.  (Photo by Gonzalo Gonzalez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

11. Santos (-)

The Guerreros were explosive in the first half against Querétaro under new coach Guillermo Almada. Through mathematically alive, they are just playing out the string.

12. Lobos BUAP (+3)

The upstart team from Puebla is still in the playoff hunt after its workmanlike win at Tijuana. Getting into the Liguilla requires wins over Cruz Azul and Toluca, plus some help. Not likely.

13. Morelia (+1)

The Monarcas are taking baby steps under new coach Javier Torrente and the draw at the Tigres should give them a boost heading into the summer.

14. UNAM (-2)

The Pumas showed grit after going a man down to Cruz Azul and nearly tied the match only to see a goal waved off. Perhaps the only question left is whether or not coach Bruno Marioni will be brought back next season.

15. Atlas (-2)

The Zorros fought hard, but were not match for León. Games against Pachuca and Monterrey remain and those will require a similar effort to avoid routs.

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16. Querétaro (-)

The Gallos Blancos are no longer a pushover and coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich has them playing smart soccer.

17. Guadalajara (-)

The crisis continues. The Chivas were booed off the field by home fans at halftime and at the end of the game after losing to Puebla.

18. Veracruz (-)

The Tiburones could become the first team to finish a season with 0 points after FIFA deducted all 4 points as a financial penalty. The front office drama will continue into the offseason.