Liga MX recap: Chivas hope free tickets keep fans on board, Pumas trounced by America

Inching closer to the halfway point of the 2022 Apertura regular season, Liga MX‘s most recent weekend was highlighted by Chivas continuing their winless streak with a draw in the Clasico Tapatio, Club America claiming a one-sided win in a rivalry game of their own against Pumas and Dani Alves, and Toluca claiming three points in dramatic, yet controversial, fashion.

In case you missed anything from Week 8, here are three talking points and some additional observations.

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Free tickets?! Chivas want to stop dubious skid

How do you resolve the crisis of an eight-game winless streak? Chivas‘ answer: Fans get in free to the next game.

Huddled around the microphones of the post-game news conference, Chivas’ roster looked somber following a 1-1 Clasico Tapatio draw against defending champions Atlas that extended El Rabaño Sagrado’s winless run. After players expressed frustration and embarrassment, Chivas midfielder Fernando Beltran asked supporters not to “abandon” the team that is second-to-last in the table, later adding that “we want to tell our fans that the next [home] game is free.”

If it seems like Chivas are desperate for ideas, the same could be said for what has been happening on the field — especially in the attack. In comparison to Atlas who only needed eight shots to score in the match, Chivas launched a total of 24 shots on Saturday. This discrepancy is nothing new. Although Chivas’ xG (expected goals) tally is at an impressive 13.21 in the Apertura, they’ve scored a league-worst total of just five times all season.

Chivas’ next game is at Necaxa on Aug. 19, meaning the fixture at Estadio Akron against Monterrey on Aug. 23 will be free for fans.

By then it might be too little too late for manager Ricardo Cadena, who is on the hot seat. If Chivas don’t win against Necaxa, they would tie their worst start to a season in the last 25 years.

Dani Alves, Pumas trounced in ‘Clasico Capitalino’

The cries for the firing of Club America manager Fernando Ortiz have suddenly died down this month. Once near the bottom of the table with Chivas, Las Aguilas have gained steam with two consecutive victories. Their latest win, a 3-0 thrashing of crosstown rivals Pumas in the Clasico Capitalino on Saturday, was a statement result for the team that has now moved back into a playoff spot at ninth place.

Carried by standout performances from Alejandro Zendejas, Henry Martin, Diego Valdes, Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodriguez and others, it looked as if Club America were finally reaching the lofty expectations that supporters have wanted from the roster.

“It was a victory that was needed, not because of urgency, but for the players,” said Ortiz after highlighting his squad.

Looking at Pumas, things haven’t exactly gone to plan for the team that spent plenty on reinforcements, including Brazil international Dani Alves. Pumas have just one win in seven games and are currently sitting outside of the playoff zone. Alves, at 39 years of age, might not be an immediate quick fix either and will need some time to adjust to Liga MX and the elevation of Mexico City.

Toluca on top with wild win over Cruz Azul

Where to begin with the chaos of Cruz Azul vs. Toluca? At 2-1 in Toluca’s favor after halftime, Cruz Azul made it 2-2 in the 81st minute after a goal from Mexican 18-year-old Rodrigo Huescas, but with plenty of complaints from Toluca who believed there was a foul in the build-up.

Then, right before the end of regulation time, it was Cruz Azul’s turn to argue after goalkeeper Sebastian Jurado accidentally landed on the leg of Toluca’s Haret Ortega. A check from VAR confirmed a controversial penalty for Toluca, leading to a questionable red for Jurado as well. After some forceful complaints, Cruz Azul manager Diego Aguirre was shown a red, along with three immediate yellows for his players. With Cruz Azul defender Juan Escobar now in net after a lengthy delay and needing to try on three different goalkeeper jerseys, Toluca’s Camilo Sanvezzo stepped up to the spot and scored to make it 3-2 by the 98th minute.

The disarray didn’t end there. Toluca nearly scored an own-goal one minute after taking the lead, VAR denied a possible (and deserved?) penalty for Cruz Azul in the 103rd minute, and then in the 107th minute, Cruz Azul missed two clear opportunities to equalize.

“What can I say? Three very important points,” said a drained Toluca manager Ignacio Ambriz after the turbulent 3-2 win. “It was a very crazy match in the final minutes, without much soccer.”

As for Cruz Azul, a good summary of their evening was perhaps best represented by their all-caps tweet near the end of the game …

Additional observations

-Elsewhere in Week 8 results: A 94th minute equalizer from Jose Enrique Angulo helped Queretaro secure a 1-1 draw with San Luis, Monterrey held onto a top two spot thanks to a 2-1 win over Necaxa, American striker Jozy Altidore scored in a 3-3 comeback for Puebla against Club Tijuana, Leon stumbled to a 3-0 loss at home versus Mazatlan, and finally, 10-man Tigres defeated Santos Laguna 2-0.

-Due to cartel violence emerging in Juarez, Liga MX postponed last Saturday’s match between FC Juarez and Pachuca. No alternative date for the game has yet to be set.

– Liga MX lost 2-1 in last Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game, marking the second year in a row that Mexico’s top flight failed to win the interleague exhibition. In a conversation at the match with ESPN’s Taylor Twellman, MLS commissioner Don Garber noted the “focused strategic partnership with Liga MX,” but also hinted that the league from south of the border might not be involved in next year’s All-Star Game, stating: “I’m not sure we need that.”

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