No. 1 Santos all but nails down top playoff seed

Santos defeated América at Estadio Azteca for the first time in eight games, virtually sewing up the top seed for the playoffs. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Santos defeated América at Estadio Azteca for the first time in eight games, virtually sewing up the top seed for the playoffs. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
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The Guerreros have led the Liga MX table 11 times this season, never dropping below third place on the other six occasions.

After a midweek matchday, the Viva Liga MX Power Rankings reflect the results of two games – those from Matchday 16 and 17. Even so, there was not a whole lot of movement from previous positions with the exception of Pachuca and Cruz Azul rising four spots and Atlas tumbling five spots. League-leading Santos tops our list again, making it 9 out of 11 on the season.

Santos was the only team that won both games for this ranking period and they have virtually sewn up the No. 1 seed as a result as they enjoy a 5-point lead with only 6 points remaining. On the other end of the spectrum, Atlas and Toluca were the only clubs to lose both games.

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The double matchday ended with three teams joining cellar-dwelling Veracruz on the sidelines for the playoffs as Toluca, Juárez and Puebla were officially eliminated from postseason play.

Though only one Liguilla invitation has been sent out (Santos has clinched a playoff berth), the reality is only two spots are up for grabs and nine teams are still in the race for the 7th and 8th seeds.

As always, the figure in parentheses after the team name indicates the change in that club’s ranking from the previous ranking.

1. Santos (–)

The Guerreros had gone 0-1-6 in their previous 7 games at Estadio Azteca against América before brushing aside the Aguilas on Saturday. They are the class of the Liga MX.

2. Necaxa (-1)

The Rayos only played once after serving a bye on Matchday 16 and they came out flat, losing at home to Pachuca. Still, they are just 1 point from returning to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

3. Querétaro (+1)

The Gallos Blancos lost at top-ranked Santos 1-0 then held the defending champion Tigres to a scoreless draw over the weekend. If they can rediscover their offense, this team could make a deep playoff run.

Santos tops Rankings
Guido Pizarro and the defending champion Tigres have not clinched a playoff spot despite fashioning a league-high 5-game unbeaten streak. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

4. Tigres (+2)

Tuca Ferretti’s squad has the longest current unbeaten streak heading down the stretch, but the 3-4-0 run has not featured a great deal of consistency. The Tigres need to find some inspiration because without a spark their postseason could prove to be brief.

5. América (–)

The Aguilas had an 8-game unbeaten streak at home before losing to Santos and they’ll be hurt by having to serve a bye on the final weekend. That could allow a team or two to leapfrog them for a better seeding.

6. León (-3)

The Esmeraldas were the clear top seed in the Liga MX last season, but this time around they seem to be doing just enough to get by. The team must learn how to play without injured captain Luis Montes who might not return at all this season.

7. Morelia (-1)

The Monarcas lost only once in October and control their own destiny down the stretch after beating up FC Juárez then battling León to a draw. A home win over lowly Puebla Friday night could be enough to get back to the Liguilla for the first time in a year.

8. Pachuca (+4)

The Tuzos have been trouble for oddsmakers all season, losing games in which they are favored. Then they go out an bust up their 3-game losing streak by winning at Necaxa. So bet against them this weekend (a visit to the Tigres) at your own peril.