Liga MX Power Rankings: Necaxa go top, Chivas drop after Veracruz draw
MEXICO CITY -- After only a handful of games, panic mode has set in for teams off to a slow start. Three teams have already ousted their managers, and a couple more could be on their way out. Next week, when we are just over a third of the way through the regular season, we could potentially have seen just about a third of all teams replace their bosses.
With a tournament as forgiving as Liga MX, the argument for shaking up your team after a slow start can go both ways.
To most, it is wise to make a change if things are going wrong, because a marked improvement over a limited period can make the difference in a short tournament. To those in the minority, a coach should be given time to adapt, allowing the team to gauge his ability level over a whole semester. After all, teams that change managers in the middle of the season rarely end up winning the title.
Did Pachuca, Pumas and Puebla make a hasty choice by firing their managers? This week, we'll look at every team's chances of making the playoffs, using FiveThirtyEight's Liga MX prediction model.
1. NECAXA (Week 5 result: 4-1 win over Puebla)
Chance of making playoffs: 59 percent. Despite Los Rayos' amazing start, the prediction model expects them to tail off a bit as the season rolls on. That will be a hard sell if players like Brian Fernandez continue to perform the way they have so far. Fernandez's brace against Puebla last weekend spelled the end of Enrique Meza's time in charge of La Franja.
2. CLUB AMERICA (Week 5 result: 2-0 win over Queretaro)
Chance of making playoffs: 94 percent. Miguel Herrera has 100 wins as Club America's boss over two spells. This season, he's kept his team afloat through various injuries, suspensions and the sale of players like Cecilio Dominguez and Diego Lainez. Reinforcements are on the way, with the defending champs signing a pair of Nicos: former Benfica striker Castillo, as well as playmaker Benedetti, who comes from Colombia's Deportivo Cali.
3. MONTERREY (Week 5 result: 1-1 draw with Pumas)
Chance of making playoffs: 95 percent. Along with Club America and rivals Tigres UANL, Monterrey is one of just three teams the model is giving a 20 percent or more chance of winning the league outright. Despite a draw on Sunday against Pumas, it's easy to see that the signing of Miguel Layun will give them a big boost moving forward. The El Tri wingback is just the latest in a line of eye-catching newcomers to Diego Alonso's squad.
4. ATLAS (Week 5 result: 2-1 win over Morelia)
Chance of making playoffs: 49 percent. Much like Necaxa, the prediction model is not giving too much weight to Atlas' fast start. A win on Friday against Morelia, however, perfectly encapsulates what is exciting about this team: speedy, stylish attacks that can come from extended periods of buildup play or quick counterattacking.
5. LEON (Week 5 result: 2-0 win over Cruz Azul)
Chance of making playoffs: 65 percent. Credit Leon for not dropping off even after perhaps the most high-profile exit of the offseason from Mauro Boselli. The team has galvanized under coach Ignacio Ambriz's style, pulling off an improbable, dominant 2-0 win against Cruz Azul on Saturday to move them into the top half of the league table.
6. TIGRES UANL (Week 5 result: 2-1 win over Santos)
Chance of making playoffs: 93 percent. Contrary to their usual fare at this point in the season, Tigres' start has been quick and effective, with Tuca Ferretti's team racking up three wins in their first five matches. On Saturday, the Monterrey side grinded out a 2-1 win over Santos with some impressive attacking play.
7. CHIVAS (Week 5 result: 0-0 draw with Veracruz)
Chance of making playoffs: 62 percent. After an embarrassing 0-0 draw against bottom-dwelling Veracruz on "Monday Night Futbol," Chivas' chances at the postseason took an understandable tumble. Despite the drop, the fans calling for manager Jose Cardozo's demise might want to cool it a bit -- Guadalajara is still on track to make the playoffs for the first time since Matias Almeyda's reign.
8. CLUB TIJUANA (Week 5 result: 2-0 win over Toluca)
Chance of making playoffs: 30 percent. Los Xolos upended Toluca during an uncharacteristically rainy home game on Saturday night. Perhaps due to the weather or the uninspiring play of late, Tijuana's crowd was smaller than usual: only 10,329 fans made the trip to the Estadio Caliente. More performances like the one in Week 5 will surely drive them back in.
9. PACHUCA (Week 5 result: 1-1 draw with Lobos)
Chance of making playoffs: 53 percent. Martin Palermo was brought in to replace the unpopular Pako Ayestaran after just three weeks this season. So far, the former Boca Juniors legend has yet to lose, but a 1-1 draw against Lobos BUAP is nothing to crow about. Despite the most recent result, Los Tuzos still have a more than decent shot at making the playoffs with their new boss at the helm.
10. TOLUCA (Week 5 result: 2-0 loss to Tijuana)
Chance of making playoffs: 46 percent. Hernan Cristante's team has gone from making the final in the Clausura 2018, to barely making the postseason in the Apertura 2018, to a slow start in the Clausura 2019. After a tough loss in Tijuana, there's a growing number of fans calling for the Argentine manager to be removed.
11. CRUZ AZUL (Week 5 result: 2-0 loss to Leon)
Chance of making playoffs: 50 percent. The team that looked like a lock to win the title just seven weeks ago is now a toss-up to make the Clausura postseason. The loss of Ivan Marcone to Boca Juniors and subsequent season-ending injury to replacement Stephen Eustaquio have been hard to handle, but this team still looks shaken after their disappointing loss in the Apertura 2018 finals.
12. SANTOS LAGUNA (Week 5 result: 2-1 loss to Tigres)
Chance of making playoffs: 48 percent. Similarly, Santos Laguna has dropped off significantly after a stellar 2018 in which they won the Clausura title that year. What's changed? Well, the team has not been able to truly compensate for the exits of key players who helped deliver said title. Manager Salvador Reyes Jr. will surely be on the hot seat should the team's form fail to improve in the short term.
13. LOBOS BUAP (Week 5 result: 1-1 draw with Pachuca)
Chance of making playoffs: 15 percent. This isn't the most important prediction for Lobos fans. After five weeks, the model gives them a 2 percent chance at relegation. That in itself gives manager Francisco Palencia a sense of relief as the season rolls on, considering Veracruz is in a free fall toward the Ascenso.
14. PUMAS UNAM (Week 5 result: 1-1 draw with Monterrey)
Chance of making playoffs: 15 percent. David Patino was two games away from making the Liga MX final last season. Now, he's out of a job. In comes Bruno Marioni, the striker synonymous with the bicampeonato, the back-to-back titles the team grabbed in 2004. Replicating that success will be a much tougher task considering how thin the team's roster looks.
15. MORELIA (Week 5 result: 2-1 loss to Atlas)
Chance of making playoffs: 10 percent. Last season, an admittedly patient ownership group made it a point to favor continuity during a press conference that indicated manager Roberto Hernandez's job was safe. Morelia somewhat rallied after the vote of confidence, but they've once again gotten off to a slow start in the Clausura 2019. It's unlikely Hernandez's job will once again be safe if things continue to go this way.
16. VERACRUZ (Week 5 result: 0-0 draw with Chivas)
Chance of making playoffs: 1 percent. With just two points in tow after five weeks, Robert Siboldi has gone from presiding over a league champion in 2018 (Santos Laguna) to leading a team that will likely play in the second division next summer. Whether Veracruz makes a move to replace him or not is the least of their concerns -- this team is one of the least talented sides Mexican soccer has seen in years.
17. PUEBLA (Week 5 result: 4-1 loss to Necaxa)
Chance of making playoffs: 12 percent. Enrique Meza was fired after Puebla managed just five points in the same number of games. Former ESPN analyst Jose Luis Sanchez (best known as "Chelis") is set to take over. At one point, Sanchez presided over the team's deepest playoff run in the 21st century. He'll need to conjure up a lot of that same magic to save his team's season this time around.
18. QUERETARO (Week 5 result: 2-0 loss to America)
Chance of making playoffs: 2 percent. It seems downright unfair to blame manager Rafael Puente Jr. for his team's performance through the first part of the season. As this column has noted before, Queretaro's roster was gutted in the offseason, with key players like Tiago Volpi and Hiram Mier sold off during the winter break. Nonetheless, it seems unlikely Puente survives the season unless he starts to win.