1) Snoozefest in Bridgeview.
In the pool of recent Mexico national team performances, this game is not one that will be remembered for a long time. Moments of excitement were strictly rationed, with the only worthwhile moment of the first half being a saved Giovani dos Santos shot.
The second half was a little better, largely in part to Hirving Lozano. Though Panama put in plenty of effort in defending, Lozano managed to break through in the 59th minute, combining with Oribe Peralta before Giovani dos Santos picked out the Club America striker for the eventual winner.
That would be the high point of the match as Mexico would hold on to an uninspiring victory.
1) Xolos de Tijuana already look Liguilla bound
One of the biggest dilemmas that Miguel Herrera faces in the last five weeks of the regular season is how to manage a team that is virtually already qualified to the Liguilla. On Friday, Xolos de Tijuana stayed perfect at the Estadio Caliente by beating Atlas 1-0. The win put them at 27 points and opened a four point gap at the top of the league table.
After 12 weeks, Xolos de Tijuana have showed that they have the raw materials to build something interesting in the Liguilla. There is a school of thought that Miguel Herrera should keep playing every game now without making many major changes to his starting lineup. It is never too early to start thinking about home-field advantage, and with the likes of Club America, Tigres, and Toluca all remaining in Tijuana’s schedule, Miguel Herrera might have no choice but to do just that. For now, Xolos de Tijuana are rolling, and the question now is will Xolos play their Liguilla games on Saturday or Sunday?
1) Mexico and Honduras disappoint.
Perhaps, at this stage of qualifying, the most important thing for both teams was not to lose. For obvious reasons, Honduras needed a draw to seal a place in the hexagonal. Mexico, on the other hand, had much different reasons. A second consecutive “Aztecazo” to Honduras would likely have meant more pressure on an already embattled Juan Carlos Osorio.
You don’t have to do much towards explaining the stalemate that unfolded at the Azteca. The first half was uneventful and perhaps that should have been no surprise given Honduras’ style of play. The second half brought much of the same as Los Catrachos set up shop with a 5-4-1 formation.
There will be a regret or two for Mexico, Hirving Lozano appeared to have Mexico’s best chance when he sent a shot just wide from point-blank range. But at the end, this was an evening in which a goal never looked likely. The fans in attendance were the ones that ended up suffering.
1) Xolos leads the pack for another week.
A quick look at the league table heading into the international break and it’s easy to argue who the best team in Liga MX has been after seven weeks. Xolos de Tijuana have been a thrilling outfit this season, and after slamming Pumas UNAM 1-0 at the Estadio Caliente, Miguel Herrera’s side looks like a team ready to light up the rest of the Apertura.
Sure, it is early stages in the season, but you have to acknowledge Tijuana has built an interesting looking team. Herrera has changed his methodology a bit this season, and more than a team that likes to elaborate play from the back, Xolos have bought a crop of talented Argentine players who know how to play a more pressing game. One of those players is 22-year-old midfielder Guido Rodriguez, who might be Tijuana’s best player after seven games. Rodriguez has been brilliant in the recovery of the ball, and has turned into an integral part of Miguel Herrera’s planning.
This is already shaping up to be one of the more exciting Liga MX seasons for Xolos in recent memory. It might be too early to know what we are going to get 2-3 months from now, but Tijuana are one of the early season favorites to wrap-up a Liguilla spot come November.
1) Same old Cruz Azul.
Four weeks into the new season, Cruz Azul are winless following a 2-1 defeat to Xolos de Tijuana on Saturday. At various points of early last season, Tomas Boy and Cruz Azul showed glimpses of a team capable of reaching the Liguilla. Things were looking up for Tomas Boy, and then, in usual Cruz Azul fashion, they gave teams like Chivas and Morelia the chance of overtaking them in the league table. Things quickly went sour, and in the last day of the season, the Cementeros narrowly missed out on a playoff spot with a defeat to Tigres.
The excuse back then was that injuries had picked up late in the season. Also, given Boy’s knack of getting into controversy, there were no shortage of accusations of drama inside the locker room. This season, however, Tomas Boy has no excuses. The one small consolation for him is his team aren’t actually playing bad. They just aren’t winning games. It may be just a question of time, but the last thing Cruz Azul need is their winless run to become a regular thing.