Necaxa, Santos share 1st as Liga MX hits stretch run

Mauro Quiroga of Necaxa celebrates after scoring against Atlas Quiroga scored a second an now leads the league with 11 goals. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Mauro Quiroga of Necaxa celebrates after scoring against Atlas Quiroga scored a second an now leads the league with 11 goals. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images) /
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The Rayos leapfrogged the Guerreros and returned to the top of the league table but they have played an extra game.

As the preseason favorites continue to settle for mediocrity (we’re looking at you, Tigres) or battle to impose their will (stand up, América) or recalculate their strategy (take a bow, Monterrey), Necaxa and Santos have been staging a memorable battle for prominence.

The two teams have been trading places for the past month or so, with Necaxa climbing back on top after its 2-0 win at Atlas on Friday night just hours after Santos settled for a 2-2 tie at Morelia. Santos has the opportunity to reclaim first on Tuesday since Necaxa will be serving their bye. However, the Guerreros won’t have it easy since it will be third-place Querétaro coming to Torreón. The Gallos Blancos might have their own ideas about who deserves the top seed. Querétaro is the league’s second-best road team (4-2-1), but Santos is the No. 1 home team in Liga MX (6-1-0).

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The Liga MX is down to four matchdays and only Veracruz is mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. Atlas and Tijuana currently sit 7th and 8th, respectively, but six teams are within 4 points. With the Liga MX schedule doubled up this week, this could be do-or-die time for several middle-of-the-table teams.

Without further ado, here are our Power Rankings after Matchday 15. As usual, the figure in parentheses indicates the team’s movement compared to the previous ranking.

1. Necaxa (+1)

The Rayos go into their bye week in first place, and with a relatively easy schedule down the stretch they should claim a top seed for the playoffs.

1. Santos (–)

The Guerreros survived a deluge in Morelia and an opportunistic Monarcas attack to come away with a rather impressive point. They can’t let up, however. Querétaro is next, followed by a date in Estadio Azteca against América.

3. León (–)

A workmanlike victory over Atlético San Luis revealed how important Luis “El Chapo” Montes is to this team. But if he is fit come playoff time, the Esmeraldas will be fine.

4. Querétaro (+2)

The scoreboard suggests an easy win over the Pumas, but goalie Gil Alcalá made three tremendous saves and the Gallos Blancos defense looked vulnerable at times.

5. América (–)

Striker Nico Castillo returned from a broken foot and scored seconds after coming on as a sub. But the real star was Henry Martín who assisted on both Aguilas goals. Still, the 2-0 win over lowly Puebla was not very reassuring for América fans.

Necaxa, Santos share top spot
As Cruz Azul’s Pablo Aguilar tries to head the ball away, André-Pierre Gignac flicks it up just in time. The Frenchman then spun, and fired home from close range. (Photo by JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP via Getty Images) /

6. Tigres (-2)

A brilliant individual effort by André-Pierre Gignac rescued a point against Cruz Azul, but if the champs think they can just turn it on come playoff time, they are sadly mistaken. This team needs to wake up soon.

6. Morelia (+1)

The Monarcas went toe-to-toe with Santos and acquitted themselves quite well. Road games at León (Nov. 3) and at Querétaro (Nov. 23) will determined their postseason fate, but they are a playoff-caliber team. Their 1-0-4 start put them behind the 8 ball.

8. Atlas (–)

The Zorros lost their fourth home game of the season, but remain in the playoff hunt. Winnable games against UNAM, San Luis and Monterrey remain.