On the Brink: Week 3-4

Jornada 3 in Liga MX action saw several teams put their mark on the early season. Santos Laguna, who had struggled in their first two matches, put up four on regional rival Monterrey. Chiapas got a nice win over Atlas, albeit red card assisted. Pumas got their first win in a hard-fought battle with Toluca.

The same could not be said for any of our four relegation contenders. While none of these teams truly failed this week, none truly succeeded either. This week was one gigantic push. All four relegation troubled teams managed a draw. They didn't hurt themselves, but they didn't really help themselves either.

On the more positive side, Veracruz's draw with Cruz Azul could be looked at favorably. Cruz Azul is a tough opponent, and Veracruz continue their unbeaten form. While it would be fair to say that Cruz Azul had the better of the play, Veracruz looked unlikely to concede and had the best scoring chance of the match. One real point and one moral victory point gained. Puebla's draw was also not too shabby. Playing America in the Azteca is normally not a successful situation for Puebla. Keeping America's prodigious attack off the score sheet in commendable. One real point and two moral victory points gained**.

The head-to-head match between Leones Negros and Chivas ended in a standstill that likely left both fan bases feeling a bit disappointed. I said last week that a draw wouldn't be terrible in this match for these two teams. I believe that remains true, but it's really all about the circumstances. Leones Negros kept the lead until the late Omar Bravo equalizer. Being so close to three points before having them slip away hurts. While thankful for the late salvage of the point. Chivas fans are not leaving this match feeling great about their team or its manager. This weak display shows that no signs of the momentum of last week's win have carried over.  

Hence, we are left with a relegation table that looks about the same as it did prior to the weekend's action ...

TABLA DE DESCENSO *

15. Veracruz - 54 games played - 58 points - 1.0741 ppg

16. Leones Negros - 20 games played - 21 points - 1.0500 ppg

17. Chivas - 88 games played - 92 points - 1.0455 ppg

18. Puebla - 88 games played - 89 points - 1.0114 ppg

Week four won't be making things any easier. Three of our four teams will be facing Liguilla teams from last season with the fourth opponent being Cruz Azul, who could be expected to also be one this time around. There will be no easy points this week. Although, it's probably safe to say there are no easy points any week for this crew.

Puebla will be happy to return home for a match with Cruz Azul. Unfortunately, Cruz Azul has won the last five meetings in this contest and will be expected to take the three points. It's worth noting that Puebla stunted the America attack last week and Cruz Azul has yet to allow a goal this season. I'm guessing this won't be a high scoring affair, which does give Puebla a decent shot at a scoreless draw or stealing a 1-0 win.

Veracruz will be in the tough situation of traveling to Monterrey to face Rayados in the Tec. Monterrey's recent form has done nothing to inspire fear. However, this will be the first team that Veracruz will face that may just be even more desperate for a win. Veracruz may have a tough time stifling the scoring threats of this extremely motivated Monterrey side.

Leones Negros travel to Toluca for what is sure to be an intriguing fixture. The aforementioned Omar Bravo goal is the only goal Leones Negros have allowed from open play in its first three matches. Toluca kept a clean sheet in two of its first three matches. Goals may be at a premium in this match as well. Pumas were able to find space in the Toluca defense using pace; that is one thing Leones Negros can utilize. I give the visitors a decent chance at stealing a victory, but I'd say a low-scoring draw is the most likely result here.

Chivas heads back to the other side of town to host Pachuca on Sunday. Pachuca is coming off its first win of the season and will be seeing the return of its U-20 star Hirving Lozano. Still, this is a good opportunity for Chivas to come out with a win. Pachuca is still sorting itself out a bit. Chivas need to capitalize here by winning and distancing themselves from Puebla. I give them a decent chance to do just that.

________________________________________________________________________________
* Relegation in Liga MX is determined based on the lowest points per game for the past three years or six seasons including the present. Veracruz and Leones Negros are recently promoted and haven't been in the league for three years. Hence, they have played fewer matches and their points per game number fluctuates more than that of Puebla or Chivas.

** Moral victory points will be tallied and the team with the highest total at the end of the season will be awarded with a pizza party at the location of their choice. The stakes could not be any bigger.

*** Artwork is used under a Creative Commons license from Tim Norris

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