Power Rankings: Necaxa must prove it belongs at top

Necaxa striker Mauro Quiroga of Necaxa races back to the midfield circle with the ball after scoring against Morelia on Matchday 13. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Necaxa striker Mauro Quiroga of Necaxa races back to the midfield circle with the ball after scoring against Morelia on Matchday 13. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Matchday 14 is upon us after a turbulent FIFA break, so let’s get you the Power Rankings before the games kick off.

Typically, by the time we get this deep into any season, there is not much dramatic movement and most teams settle into a range spanning maybe 4 or 5 spots. The Apertura 2019 has been anything but predictable. Several big teams have faltered badly (Monterrey, Cruz Azul) and a few teams put together big streaks that saw them climb rapidly (Necaxa, Morelia, Pachuca). Upsets and slumps have also caused a few teams to yo-yo up and down our rankings.

I expect the stretch run could bring things more into focus, but the final “focus” could be a blurry image because 14 teams still have legitimate shots at claiming one of the eight playoff spots. It could be a very entertaining melee right up until the final whistle.

Without further ado, here is the Viva Liga MX Power Rankings heading into Matchday 14. The figure in parentheses indicates the team’s movement with regard to the previous ranking.

1. Necaxa (+2)

Still a surprise to see this Necaxa team competing for a top seed in the Liguilla. The Rayos can make a statement of intent on Saturday when América comes marching into Estadio Victoria. A win for Necaxa could finally convince doubters that these Rayos are genuine title contenders.

Necaxa tops rankings
André-Pierre Gignac poses after scoring against Santos in the Tigres’ 4-0 win on Matchday 13. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

2. Tigres (+4)

Is this the real Tigres? Finally? Tuca Ferreti’s boys crushed league-leading Santos, knocking off their

perch a week after a joyful win in the Clásico Regio. Their schedule down the stretch is not too difficult so they could build up momentum as they try to defend their title.

3. Santos (-2)

The high-scoring Guerreros have been a constant at the top of the table and the top of our Power Rankings. Their last two times out, they have been blanked, losing 2-0 at UNAM then 4-0 at the Tigres. Coach Guillermo Almada will have to incite a reaction.

Necaxa tops rankings
Jean Meneses can’t believe he and his León mates could not defeat lowly Veracruz, settling for a drab 1-1 draw. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

4. León (–)

The Esmeraldas have been maddening to predict this season. A slow start followed by hints of last season’s explosiveness. Then a loss at Puebla and a poor draw at home against Veracruz. They are still a playoff team, but they are only 2-4-0 at home. Not good.

5. Pachuca (–)

The Tuzos have been on an impressive 5-2-1 streak only slowed down by their bye on Matchday 13. They return to action after three weeks with a home match against FC Juárez.

5. América (-3)

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The Aguilas will have to play their next three games without coach Miguel Herrera after his meltdown following the Cruz Azul loss earned him a suspension. América can erase the bad tast of their loss in the Junior Classic by going into Necaxa and stealing a win.

7. Querétaro (+1)

The Gallos Blancos fell into mini-slump that saw them fall out of the top 3 in the Liga MX table. Their win over the Rayados last time out could help them regain their equilibrium and coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich remains a master tactician.

8. UNAM (-1)

The Pumas are in the mix again thanks to the league’s stingiest defense. They will be tested on Sunday by reigning scoring champs León and Team Mexico sensation J.J. Macías.

9. Atlas (+1)

The Zorros have been lurking on the edges of the playoff seedings for a few months now. Their home struggles have not helped (3-1-3 at Estadio Jalisco).

Necaxa tops rankings
Cruz Azul defender Pablo Aguilar screams in exultation after scoring his team’s second goal in the Cementeros’ 5-2 rout of América. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

10. Cruz Azul (+7)

Are the Cementeros back? Will they continue to live up to their reputation going forward? The Tigres and León loom big on their upcoming schedule.

11. Morelia (-2)

The Monarcas suffered a tough loss at home to No. 1 Necaxa, giving up 3 second-half goals. The setback hurt them in the Liga MX table more than it did here, but a win at Cruz Azul will reverse their fortunes.

12. Atlético de San Luis (+2)

The Tuneros have been up-and-down since Gustavo took the head coaching job. A home date with Querétaro will be a good test of their playoff aspirations.

13. Puebla (-1)

Are the Camoteros actually staging a stretch run or was it just a momentary surge? Puebla won at the Tigres and defeated León, then played a dreary draw at Toluca. The Camoteros need better consistency.

Necaxa tops rankings
Tijuana players walk off the field after visiting Atlas scored the equalizer 7 minutes into added time. (Photo by Gonzalo Gonzalez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

14. Tijuana (-1)

The Xolos need to make a late-season push to make the playoffs again, but they turned in a dud at home on Matchday 13, settling for a draw against Atlas.

15. Monterrey (-4)

The Rayados are a mess and Antonio Mohamed has been summoned to turn thigs around. Monterrey hosts the Chivas on Sunday in the “Liga MX Disappointment Bowl.”

16. FC Juárez (-1)

The Bravos gave up the winning goal in added time at home against the Tuneros, a tough blow that sunk them deeper into the relegation zone.

17. Toluca (+1)

Toluca has a bye this week which means coach Ricardo La Volpe need not fear for his job. Still, Diablos fans have not been happy with what they’ve seen.

18. Guadalajara (-2)

The Chivas saw the Pumas swipe points from them with a last-minute goal their last time out. New coach Luis Fernando Tena should have a better feel for his roster by now, but that just means he knows its shortcomings. Meanwhile, front office turbulence has popped up.

19. Veracruz (–)

The Tiburones’ lost season continues as players are expected to boycott their Matchday 14 game against the Tigres due to lack of payment from owner Fidel Kuri.