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 By Eric Gomez

Liga MX Power Rankings: Cruz Azul stays top, Toluca jumps into top five

MEXICO CITY -- The race at the top of Liga MX is tightening after four weeks of play. Club America soundly defeated Monterrey at the Azteca and took its place in the league table. Cruz Azul and Pumas were unable to continue their perfect starts, drawing against Tijuana and Pachuca respectively.

Moving into Week 5, seven teams are in striking distance for a potential first-place spot at the end of the weekend. Here are the Power Rankings after the most recent week of play:

1. CRUZ AZUL

Record: 3W-1D-0L
Week 4 ranking: 1

One controversial call meant Cruz Azul had to come from behind, on the road, against one of the more defensively stout teams in Liga MX. However, Gerardo Flores came through to rescue a point against Xolos at the Caliente and maintain La Maquina's top spot in the table and the Power Rankings.

2. CLUB AMERICA

Record: 3W-0D-1L
Week 4 ranking: 4

Aided by a deserved red card early in the first half, Miguel Herrera's squad persevered through the rain and a dreadful Estadio Azteca pitch to clamp down on a tough Monterrey squad. Roger Martinez scored one of the best goals of the tournament, while Bruno Valdez and Andres Ibarguen added on. After a rough opening loss, the Eagles are flying high in the Apertura 2018.

3. PUMAS UNAM

Record: 3W-1D-0L
Week 4 ranking: 2

A punchless, sad game in Mexico City ended Pumas' run of three straight wins to open the season. Worse yet, the result came against one of the league's underperforming teams in Pachuca. Very little reason to panic for the long haul, but this is a game they should've won easily.

4. TOLUCA

Record: 2W-1D-1L
Week 4 ranking: 9

In a weekend where red cards set the tone for three of the nine games played, none weighed more heavily on a match than the one given to Guido Pizarro in the 23rd minute of Tigres vs. Toluca. Andre-Pierre Gignac had opened scoring minutes before, and Toluca turned the numerical advantage into an eventual 2-1 comeback win.

5. UANL TIGRES

Record: 2W-0D-2L
Week 4 ranking: 5

Derailed by that same red card to Pizarro, Tigres tirelessly attempted to maintain the game's tone and rhythm in attack despite missing a vital piece in the middle of the pitch in Pizarro. Despite playing with 10 men for 70 minutes, they held possession and the brunt of passing against Toluca.

6. MONTERREY

Record: 3W-0D-1L
Week 4 ranking: 3

Stefan Medina committed two bonehead tackles in the first half and rightfully saw himself sent off before the halftime whistle. After that, Monterrey committed to the counter-attack while attempting to defend America's powerful strike force -- it didn't work.

7. SANTOS LAGUNA

Record: 3W-0D-1L
Week 4 ranking: 7

Two teams in turmoil faced off in Guadalajara on Sunday, but it was visiting Santos Laguna who came back on a Chivas team that initially looked ready to turn the tide on its miserable season. A great win for debut coach Salvador Reyes against the team his father starred for half a century ago.

8. MORELIA

Record: 2W-1D-1L
Week 4 ranking: 11

Monarcas essentially played smash and grab against Necaxa at home. The visitors outshot them by 19-11, held possession for 62 percent and passed 481 times to Morelia's 298. However, Diego Valdes and Gabriel Achilier converted, while Necaxa's Brian Fernandez was the only one on target for Los Rayos.

9. CLUB TIJUANA

Record: 1W-2D-1L
Week 4 ranking: 10

Xolos were unable to take advantage of the momentum generated after their controversial goal put them ahead against Cruz Azul at the Estadio Caliente. Still, a draw against the league leaders is never bad news for a team still looking to jell after many incoming transfers.

10. NECAXA

Record: 2W-0D-2L
Week 4 ranking: 6

Although their style of play is undoubtedly attractive and viewer friendly, Necaxa's problems in front of goal make them equal parts thrilling and frustrating. If no one steps up this season, expect Los Rayos to target a striker this winter to elevate their fantastic buildup play.

11. QUERETARO

Record: 1W-1D-2L
Week 4 ranking: 8

A disastrous performance against a team it should have easily competed against. Leon dominated the pace of play from the get-go, putting an astounding 23 shots against a beleaguered Queretaro defense. Andres Mosquera, Yairo Moreno, Maximiliano Cerato and Luis Montes all broke through the home team's defense.

12. LEON

Record: 1W-1D-2L
Week 4 ranking: 15

Their first win of the season comes at a crucial time in which teams are already considering a switch at the managerial position if results aren't there. Leon's drubbing of Queretaro could represent the confidence switch needed to contend for a playoff spot later on.

13. VERACRUZ

Record: 1W-1D-2L
Week 4 ranking: 16

In Puebla on Friday, Memo Vazquez's team looked down in the dumps after the home team opened up the scoring in the second half. Late on, Cristian Menendez, who had missed sitters earlier in the game, turned it on at the right time and scored twice in two minutes to steal a win.

14. LOBOS BUAP

Record: 1W-1D-2L
Week 4 ranking: 14

A valuable point at home against a rival it will likely have to fend off to stay afloat in Liga MX. The most interesting part of this game? The wolf chant used over the loudspeakers was played a harrowing 108 times according to our colleagues at ESPN Mexico.

15. PUEBLA

Record: 1W-0D-3L
Week 4 ranking: 12

We're officially calling time on the notion that last season's Cinderella run was the start of a consistent trend for Puebla. In a few weeks' time, it will likely be searching for a new coach to save a season quickly going downhill.

16. CHIVAS

Record: 0W-1D-3L
Week 4 ranking: 13

Time is running out for Jose Cardozo at Chivas, despite the poetic and inspirational tweets delivered by the team's CEO and the owner's son after a crushing 2-1 defeat at home against the reigning champions.

17. PACHUCA

Record: 0W-1D-3L
Week 4 ranking: 18

Let's put it this way: few expected them to walk away with a draw at Pumas' stadium on Sunday. So there's that. Still, this team is far and away the most disappointing this season, considering their level of talent.

18. ATLAS

Record: 0W-2D-2L
Week 4 ranking: 17

Four games, no goals scored. In a nutshell, that sums up Atlas' sad start to the Apertura 2018.

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