Liga MX: Monterrey shows title-worthy talent in snapping Club America's winning streak
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- It felt appropriate that just as the latest season of Mexico's bingeworthy series Club de Cuervos was released, Liga MX had its most colorful weekend for a while.
For those that haven't seen it, Club de Cuervos is a humorous take on the Mexican game played out through a fictional club, but the content often cuts so close to the bone that you don't know whether to laugh or cry.
It's sometimes difficult to work out whether the series is imitating real life, or if it is actually the other way around.
For example, the fourth week of games in the Liga MX's 2019 Clausura involved the following storylines, which would all seem to fit nicely into a soap opera:
- Cruz Azul coach Pedro Caixinha saying he doesn't "give a s---" what the press say
- Costa Rican Joel Campbell's signing for Leon being announced by singers Emmanuel and Mijares midway through a concert
- An injured possum entering the pitch in Veracruz to garner international headlines
- One of the worst refereeing performances in recent memory and some very confusing uses of VAR
- Club America losing for the first time in 23 games
- Pumas firing coach David Patino and bringing in Bruno Marioni
- Cruz Azul's Portuguese-Canadian midfielder Stephen Eustaquio tearing his ACL 20 minutes into his debut
Oh, and Chivas' unbeaten start to the season was ended by Santos Laguna thanks to ex-Guadalajara player Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez, leaving Monterrey top of the league.
Where to start? Thankfully, there was some great matches in-between all the madness:
Game of the week
It was always going to be Monterrey hosting Club America in a match that could easily be the Clausura final in May. And the 3-2 win for Rayados was certainly not short of talking points, with both sides finishing with nine players and the game including a host of controversial decisions.
But rather than going over each one -- it would take a long essay -- it's worth focusing on this being an important win for Monterrey coach Diego Alonso. The Uruguayan hasn't been totally settled in his position, but ending America's 23-game run in a match in which Monterrey was down a man for 43 minutes highlighted his organizational hand.
You could tell just how much it meant as he celebrated on the final whistle.
Once again, it was a case of Monterrey being comfortable out of possession. The home side looked more dangerous than its opponent, despite having a player less for so long.
For America coach Miguel Herrera, the loss won't be a cause to panic, but with Diego Lainez (to Real Betis in Spain) and Cecilio Dominguez (to Independiente in Argentina) having left the club, Cristian Insaurralde possibly on his way out and Jeremy Menez and Oribe Peralta on the injury list, the team needs reinforcements. Alejandro "Kaku" Romero clearly wants to move from MLS side Red Bulls, while Liverpool's Lazar Markovic has also been linked, but the club only has until Thursday to sign players and needs to get a move on.
While not as high-profile, there was a good win 1-0 away win on Sunday for Tigres away against a Toluca side beginning to incorporate new signings Jonathan Maidana, Felipe Pardo, Federico Mancuello and Emanuel Gigliotti, although this Tigres team is still a distance from really clicking into gear.
Coaches' corral of the week
There won't be any time for Patino to correct things at Pumas. The 1-0 loss on Saturday to Pachuca ended his reign in charge and left the Mexico City side down in the 16th place without a win all season.
In Patino's defense, 16 wins, 16 losses and 18 ties in 50 Liga MX games isn't the worst record and incoming Marioni -- who has never previously coached in Liga MX -- has a difficult job to turn the team's fortunes around.
The problems at Pumas seem to run deeper and even sporting director Leandro Augusto admitted ahead of the season that "we don't have the budget of certain other teams."
What Pumas need is an influx of money to be able to compete with "certain other teams" -- i.e., Monterrey, Tigres, Club America and Cruz Azul -- and Los Universitarios should consider formalizing an agreement with a corporation like fellow university club Tigres UANL did with cement company CEMEX when it was having serious problems.
For Pachuca's debutant coach Martin Palermo, this was an important win at home, even if there wasn't much between the sides.
Cruz Azul's 1-0 victory over Club Tijuana saw Colombian coach Oscar Pareja sent from the bench and Caixinha lose his cool with the press. On the field, things weren't much prettier in front of only 10,311 fans in Estadio Azteca, with Elias Hernandez netting the only goal from the penalty spot.
Liga MX 'Best XI' of the week
Goal of the week
After the talk in the week about Monterrey's Rogelio Funes Mori possibly one day playing for Mexico -- spoiler alert: the Argentine is very unlikely to be eligible -- it was apt that the striker demonstrated exactly how good he is.
For Monterrey's third goal, he turned the defense inside out with some delicate juggling skills and finished with aplomb.
Ya tenemos lista nuestra selección de los mejores goles de la #Jornada4 #Clausura2019 de la #LIGABancomerMX— LIGA Bancomer MX (@LIGABancomerMX) January 28, 2019
¿Cuál es tu favorito? Facundo Barcelo, Rogelio Funes Mori, Ángel Mena, Luis Quiñones, Clifford Aboagye, José Juan Vázquez o José Macías. pic.twitter.com/LtUZ1s9OgU
Otra superlativa of the week
Are things looking up for Club Leon? It certainly seems that way.
The preseason was dominated by the saga surrounding striker Mauro Boselli, but the 4-0 win against struggling Queretaro on Sunday was a healthy sign that this could be a team with legitimate playoff aspirations.
While La Fiera may only be in 12th position, it was completely dominant in the 1-0 loss in week 3 to Tijuana and drew the first two games of the season at home to Tigres and on the road against Monterrey.
Also, Leon is second in expected goals per game (2.38) so far this season -- behind only Toluca (2.40) -- and Tico Campbell is still to be added to the attack.