Goals, goals, and well, even more goals. If it felt like you couldn’t keep track of all the scoring in Liga MX’s Week 11 of the 2022 Apertura season, you’re not alone. The weekend featured an immense total of 34 goals, which is now the matchday record high for the season with an average of 3.77 per game last week.
With four goals apiece, Pachuca, Leon and Santos Laguna all benefited the most from recent defensive frailties. In-form Liga MX giants Chivas and Club America, both claiming three scoring opportunities of their own, also added to the league’s towering pile of shots that found the back of the net.
Of course, there’s more to highlight than just scoring. Struggling Mexico City club Cruz Azul claimed three much-needed points, Monterrey held onto first place, Puebla extended their peculiar streak of draws, and for one young striker, a yellow card awaited them after they decided to bring some lucha libre moves onto the pitch.
In case you missed anything, here are three talking points and additional observations from Jornada 11 of the Liga MX season.
Liga MX officially returns to its high-scoring, high-flying ways
Even after seeing unexpected teams like Cruz Azul and Atlas defy the odds and lift league championships in 2021, it felt like something was missing from Liga MX last year. Whether it was due to COVID-19, players returning to fitness or simply a change in the league format that added four extra playoff spots, Mexico’s top flight often featured matches and performances that left much to be desired.
Statistics back this up. While the 2021 Apertura had the fewest goals per game ratio (2.19) since the beginning of Liga MX’s short season structure in 1996, the 2021 Clausura was third in line (2.39) when it came to fewest goals per game.
In recent weeks, that once-nagging narrative has been cast aside completely. Electrifying multi-goal matches have become key talking points in the last month or so, eventually leading up to Week 11 that featured 3.77 goals per game.
It isn’t the most defining characteristic, but there’s no denying that breathtaking goal fests are part of what made Liga MX such a fascinating spectacle in a pre-COVID era. Die-hards and casual fans alike became enamored with the league’s very attack-friendly approach to the sport.
To the satisfaction of those supporters and new fans, those goals are now back.
Powerhouses Chivas and Club America are Liga MX’s most in-form clubs
Only two teams — both who happen to be the most popular and successful in Mexico — have three wins in a row, and one goal or fewer conceded in that run: Chivas and Club America.
Chivas, guided by stellar performances from Alexis Vega, Fernando Beltran and Sergio Flores last Saturday, pushed their winning streak to three after a 3-1 victory over Pumas. Manager Ricardo Cadena, formerly stuck in an eight-game stretch without a win earlier this month, seems to have finally found a reliable base in his XI that initially had a rotating list of options. Vega and Beltran have both been crucial in this resurgence that has helped keep Cadena’s once tenuous position, as has forward Angel Zaldivar who has scored three times in August.
Over at Club America, Las Aguilas are now legitimate title-contenders with six consecutive victories. Last Friday, they had little trouble away at Mazatlan, scoring all of their chances by the 49th minute of a 3-1 result in their favor. Their key figure? That’s easily league-leading scorer Henry Martin. With seven goals and four assists in his last seven appearances, no player in Liga MX has been more effective or commanding than the 29-year-old striker.
Sadly, a muscle injury will leave him out of an upcoming friendly for the Mexican national team against Paraguay this Wednesday, but the good news is that he is expected to only be out for 10 days.
Cruz Azul begin to turn a turbulent time around
It’s never a good sign when your fans protest your headquarters, provide your worst attendance numbers at a home game this season, and then literally turn their backs on you — all within the same week.
Following a startling and historic 7-0 loss to crosstown rivals Club America in the previous Week 10, Cruz Azul seemed to be living in a state of shock. Last Monday, fans confronted players, one throwing an egg on the car of midfielder Uriel Antuna, an obvious metaphor noted, in protest of the team’s performance. Manager Diego Aguirre was unsurprisingly fired the day after this loss, and in his place, Raul “Potro” Gutierrez, a former Club America player, had the undesirable task of cleaning up the mess of a team that had two victories through 10 games.
Gutierrez was soon able to do so with a nervy 2-1 win against Queretaro last Saturday that had a couple of roadblocks along the way. In the stands, the supporters of Los Cementeros responded with the worst turnout of the season through just 11,545 at the Estadio Azteca. Groups of fans organized a five-minute period to stop cheering in the first half, and in protest of the 7-0 loss, they turned their backs on Cruz Azul in the 70th minute.
And yet in the 78th minute of what was a scrappy 1-1 stalemate, Cruz Azul found a way to seal a 2-1 win thanks to a goal from Christian Tabo, clinching their third victory of the Apertura.
Gutierrez, three points in hand, addressed the protests from supporters after the win.
“Those things, well, it says plenty about what this fanbase wants,” said Gutierrez. “We’re with them too.”
– Elsewhere in Week 11: Puebla earned their sixth draw in a row with a 2-2 result at home against FC Juarez, Tigres vs. Necaxa ended at 0-0, Pachuca defeated Toluca 4-1, Leon scored four of their own against back-to-back Liga MX champions Atlas in a 4-2 win, Santos Laguna also scored four in a 4-1 victory over San Luis, and Monterrey closed out the weekend with a 3-0 away win over Club Tijuana.
– 22-year-old Pachuca forward Illian Hernandez scored twice in his first Liga MX start with the club on Sunday, but what’s perhaps more noteworthy is the player earning a yellow after doing an acrobatic (yet dangerous?) lucha libre-themed celebration with his teammate.
– Last week, the Mexican national team announced their all-Liga MX roster that will take part in a friendly against Paraguay at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday. Over the weekend, Henry Martin and Tigres’ Sebastian Cordova were officially announced as unavailable due to injuries, with Chivas’ Zaldivar stepping in.
– Finally, we’ll close things out with former Monterrey goal scorer Aldo De Nigris tweeting on Saturday that his son, also named Aldo De Nigris, had just scored a goal for Monterrey’s youth academy. The legend continues.