Pachuca is on the brink; León looking for revenge

Pachuca is one of four winless teams in the Liga MX and playoff hopes are fading quickly. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Pachuca is one of four winless teams in the Liga MX and playoff hopes are fading quickly. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The Tuzos face a do-or-die situation against Puebla, while León faces the team that stopped its historic win streak last season.

There isn’t really a marquee match-up on the Matchday 5 schedule. No derbies or rivalry games. Instead, there are several make-or-break games whose outcomes could force teams to consider coaching changes (we’re looking at you, Pachuca and Toluca).

One such contest is the Puebla-Pachuca match on Friday. Pachuca made a brief playoff appearance last season and added a few pieces over the summer (striker Jonathan Copete, winger Romario Ibarra), while also turning down offers for midfield star Víctor Guzmán (owner Jesús Martínez declared that “Pocho” needed another year of seasoning before he was ready for Europe).

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Through four weeks, the Tuzos are a mess and one wonders if they are close to imploding. Playmaker Edwin Cardona has a history of being a locker room agitator whose moodiness impacts his performance. Cardona has looked disinterested at times this season and, last week, he was ejected for throwing a punch at Querétaro’s Alonso Escoboza.

If that weren’t enough, the Tuzos recently acquired Rubens Sambueza from León, a rambunctious player with a quick temper whose lack of discipline often overshadows his unquestionable talent. This certainly doesn’t seem like an environment in which Pachuca’s young players can thrive.

With only 1 point through four matches, the Tuzos are at risk of seeing their playoff hopes fade early. Coach Martín Palermo will have to formulate a line-up that can take advantage of Puebla’s defensive shortcomings and eliminate all off-field distractions. If he fails to get a win against the Camoteros, he is definitely a candidate for a pink slip.

Esmeraldas eager for payback

The best match of the weekend is the Chivas-León contest. Last year, the Chivas were suffering through a horrendous season when they hosted the Esmeraldas who walked onto the Estadio Akron pitch on Matchday 16 with a league-record 12-game win streak. Guadalajara stunned León with a 2-1 upset, though it didn’t stop the Esmeraldas from continuing their march into the playoffs where they reached the Final before losing to the Tigres.

Pachuca on brink - Week 5
Guadalajara stunned León last season, ending their own 8-game winless streak and stopping the Esmeraldas’ league-record 12-game win streak. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images) /

This time around, the Chivas have the better record though their performance has not been all that convincing. Four of Guadalajara’s six goals have come from the penalty spot and coach Tomás Boy is still tinkering with his starting unit and tactical formations. The star of the Chivas’ season thus far has been prodigal son Antonio Rodríguez who has been brilliant in goal.

As for León, Nacho Ambriz’s men have come out of the gates quite slowly. The team had a bye last week, so will be well-rested but they have no momentum to speak of. The Esmeraldas were the best team in the Liga MX last season, leading the league in scoring and defense, but have not shown the same spark that saw them score 41 times in 17 games, while forging a +27 goal differential.

I suspect León will be determined to turn their season around and rediscover their offensive rhythm. Look for wingers Angel Mena and Joel Campbell to stretch the Chivas defense while rangy striker (and former Chiva) José Juan Macías lurks in the middle of the box. León goalie Rodolfo Cota (another former Chiva) will be eager to get the best of his old mates on Saturday.

Below is this weekend’s schedule. In parentheses are the team’s point total, its goal differential and its spot in the standings. Last week’s results are listed with the home team first.


Pachuca (1 point, -4, 16th) at Puebla (1 point, -5, 17th)

Cruz Azul (4 points, -1, 10th) at Atlas (9 points, +2, 5th)


Tigres (9 points, +3, 4th) at Atlético San Luis (3 points, -4, 15th)

Guadalajara (7 points, +2, 6th) at León (4 points, +1, 12th)

Morelia (3 points, -3, 13th) at América (10 points, +5, 3rd)

Toluca (1 point, -5, 18th) at Monterrey (6 points, -1, 9th)


Veracruz (1 point, -8, 19th) at UNAM (6 points, +2, 8th)

Santos (12 points, +10, 1st) at Necaxa (4 points, +3, 11th)

Querétaro (10 points, +6, 2nd) at Juárez (3 points, -4, 14th)

Bye: Tijuana (7 points, +1, 7th)

Matchday 4 results

Morelia 0, Monterrey 1

Veracruz 1, Atlas 2

Tijuana 1, Pumas 0

Querétaro 2, Pachuca 1

Cruz Azul 2, Juárez 0

Tigres 3, Necaxa 1

Guadalajara 3, Atlético San Luis 0

Toluca 0, América 1

Santos 4, Puebla 1

(Bye: León)