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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Santos, Necaxa share top spot
New Monterrey coach Antonio Mohamed is known to lean on the divine while sitting on the bench. Here, he placed his rosary on his chair before walking to the touch line to relay instructions to his team. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Underachieving Rayados head up bottom half of rankings

9. Monterrey (+3)

Hopefully, the Rayados used their bye to absorb the tactical schemes of new coach Antonio Mohamed. As it is, they moved up three spots without playing a game and are 4 points out of a playoff spot with four games remaining. However, there are five teams between them and eighth place.

10. Tijuana (+4)

The Xolos are actually in playoff position but they moved up by beating Veracruz. Hardly cause for excitement considering their inconsistent form. Lack of discipline has also plagued them, but coach Oscar Pareja will address that down the stretch.

11. UNAM (-1)

The Pumas got a spanking from Querétaro (3-0) but they actually showed life on offense, denied three goals by sparkling goaltending. After falling behind, they were bitten twice by well-conceived Gallos Blancos counters.

12. Pachuca (-3)

The Tuzos were the league’s hottest team heading into their Matchday 13 bye. That was followed by the FIFA break and Pachuca has not been the same team, shut out by FC Juárez and Toluca. They must rediscover their mojo soon or repeat their Apertura 2018 fadeout.

Necaxa, Santos share first place
Cruz Azul squandered a late lead for the fourth time this season and playoff hopes are fading fast. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images) /

13. Cruz Azul (-2)

The Cementeros squandered multiple opportunities to put away the Tigres on the road, then conceded a brilliant goal in added time. This one stings, but they mist recover quickly because León pays a visit on Thursday.

14. FC Juárez (-1)

The Bravos played the entire second half with 10 men because Darío Lezcano lost his temper and cursed the referee. They fought gamely, but the Chivas found the winner in injury time. A tough loss.

Santos, Necaxa share top spot
Toluca’s Alfredo Talavera was the Man of the Match, making eight saves including one on a penalty kick. (Photo by Angel Castillo/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

15. Toluca (+1)

Thanks to two second-half goals and a classy performance in goal from captain Alfredo Talavera, the Diablos stay alive in the playoff chase. Improbable, yes. But not impossible.

16. Atlético de San Luis (-1)

The Tuneros are a disaster. A stadium riot last weekend followed by revelations that their coach took kickbacks several years ago with another team. On Tuesday, they’ll host América in an empty stadium with an interim coach.

17. Guadalajara (+1)

The Chivas benefited from a rabbit-eared referee (a Juárez player was kicked out for swearing) and came away with their fourth win of the season and their first victory away from home in nine months. A home win vs. Tijuana on Wednesday could make for an interesting stretch run.

18. Puebla (-1)

Last month’s string of upsets appears to have been a blip as the Camoteros looked severely limited against América. Tuesday’s match at Veracruz will be the least attractive game of the season.

19. Veracruz (–)

The Tiburones are a mess and the team’s financial situation is only depressing the players’ performance. It’s hard to play when you are wondering how you are going to pay your bills.