Week 7: Santos holds firm; Rayados step up

Leon defender Andres Mosquera and Santos winger Brian Lozano give chase during the Week 7 León-Santos match. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Leon defender Andres Mosquera and Santos winger Brian Lozano give chase during the Week 7 León-Santos match. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

A thrilling 2-2 draw in León was enough to convince us that Santos and the Esmeraldas are the top two teams in the league.

The Liga MX squeezed in a midweek matchday ahead of the upcoming FIFA date and not too many teams rose to the occasion (5 draws, 3 wins for home teams and just one road win). As a result, there was little change at the top of the rankings with Santos and León remaining the cream of the crop.

Santos made clear that their fast start to the season was no fluke, playing fast-rising León to a tie on the road, while the Gallos Blancos bounced back from their first loss of the season with a convincing win (even if it was against sad-sack Veracruz).

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Much of the league is clumped together in the middle of the pack, promising little except a determination to be playoff fodder for this season’s elite teams. Monterrey is one team that raised its hand, suggesting its readiness to climb out of the pack and challenge for a top playoff seed.

We’ll see a quick turnaround as Matchday 8 begins tonight and then a two-week break as national teams take the stage around the globe for a couple of friendlies.

Without further ado, here are this week’s Viva Liga MX Power Rankings. The figures in parentheses indicates the change in the team’s ranking from the previous list.

1. Santos (–)

The Guerreros played tough-nosed defense against one of the league’s best offenses and fought León to a draw on the road. This team is a serious title contender.

Santos top, Leon second
Fernando Navarro and the León defense worked hard to keep tabs on Santos winger Brian Lozano but the Guerreros managed to score twice to earn a tie. (Photo by VICTOR CRUZ/AFP/Getty Images) /

2. León (+1)

The Esmeraldas probably think they should have beaten Santos at home, but the Guerreros defense was smothering. The León offense is purring, but the defense is not up to par and coach Ignacio Ambriz might continue to tinker with his back four.

3. América (-1)

The Aguilas are a hospital ward right now so the FIFA break is coming at the right time, especially since some of their stars will skip their national team training camps to nurse injuries. Still, América is the lone undefeated team in Liga MX.

4. Querétaro (+2)

The Gallos Blancos bounced back quickly from a tough loss to León, but it was only against Veracruz, so we can’t give them too much credit. Still, Querétaro returned to the top of the heap, ahead of Santos on goal differential.

5. Tigres (-1)

This always seems to happen … the Tigres hit a mid-season lull in which they do just enough to avoid losing. This time, Jesús Dueñas came to the rescue, scoring in minute 90+4 to snatch a point from host Atlas.

6. Monterrey (+2)

The Rayados were a bit wasteful against UNAM, but showed flashes of the explosiveness on offense that we’d been waiting for. Goalie Marcelo Barovero was magnificent between the pipes, twice stopping sure goals with reflex saves.

Santos top, Leon second
Romario Ibarra, second from left, celebrates after scoring the equalizer for 10-man Pachuca in minute 89 against América. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images) /

7. Pachuca (–)

The Tuzos showed tremendous grit after seeing striker Franco Jara sent off in minute 5, holding powerful América in check most of the match before earning a draw with a late goal from a splendid fast break.

8. Necaxa (-3)

The Rayos let home points slip through their fingers, slowing the momentum they had going after two impressive wins (over Santos and the Chivas). Necaxa just couldn’t solve Toluca’s disciplined defensive formation.

Santos top, Leon second
Atlas goalie Camilo Vargas reacts at the final whistle shortly after the Tigres scored to earn a last-gasp tie. (Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

9. Atlas (+2)

The Zorros played well against the Tigres but will be heartbroken by the late goal that earned the visitors a tie. They need to learn how to win games like that.

10. Tijuana (+4)

The Xolos showed some fight after a numbing loss at Toluca over the weekend. Against Cruz Azul, Tijuana played with a chip on their shoulder, earning a win that could spark a turnaround.

11. Guadalajara (–)

The Chivas had a bye knowing that time is running out to turn their season around. Cruz Azul is next and the Cementeros are eminently beatable.

12. Cruz Azul (-3)

This team looks more and more like a pretender, not a serious contender. A reckless foul in midfield produced a red card and the Cementeros spent the rest of the game yapping at the Xolos instead of protecting their lead.

13. Toluca (–)

Coach Ricardo La Volpe saved his job with a 2-0 win over Tijuana over the weekend and the Diablos continued their climb with a nice road draw at Necaxa.

Santos top, Leon second
The Pumas held their own against Monterrey, but striker Rogelio Funes Mori – here fighting past UNAM defender Pablo Jáquez – still found the net. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

14. UNAM (-4)

The Pumas look to be in trouble and last season’s 15th-place finish no longer seems like an outlier. Coach Michel González is desperate for offense and he is running out of options.

15. Puebla (+2)

The Camoteros are 1-1-0 since showing José Luis Sánchez Solá the door. Maybe Thursday’s comeback win over visiting Juárez will spark a revival but we should not expect a playoff bid.

16. Morelia (–)

Since firing Javier Torrente, the Monarcas have not lost and though they played a dull 1-1 draw with Atlético San Luis, points on the road are valuable.

17. Atlético San Luis (-3)

The Tuneros have won only one home game out of four, a recipe for disaster. Alfonso Sosa is having trouble squeezing offense out of his club (5 goals in 6 games) and you can’t win if you can’t score.

18. Juárez (–)

The Bravos likely are grateful that their first-ever experience in Liga MX includes Veracruz because the Tiburones will likely prevent the border team from suffering relegation.

19. Veracruz (–)

The Tiburones are a train wreck and now they have now conductor as coach Enrique Meza resigned after the team set a new world record for futility – 33 consecutive games without a win stretching back more than a year.