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Liga MX roundup: Jesus Corona hands Cruz Azul untraditional win with last-second penalty save (video)

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Liga MX’s last set of games for the foreseeable future took place on Sunday, with Atlas, Santos and Cruz Azul taking home three points. There’s no timeline on Mexico’s top-flight’s suspension due to the coronavirus, but its last impression was one worth witnessing. Here’s a closer look into some of Sunday’s closed-door action.

Club America 0-1 Cruz Azul

It’s nearly impossible to think of a time in which Cruz Azul didn’t get the short end of the stick against America, specifically with Jesus Corona in goal. There’s a reason why there’s a verb based around La Maquina’s miseries (most of which have come at inopportune times with Corona between the sticks): cruzazulear. For a second, it seemed like history was going to repeat itself on Sunday in front of an uninhabited Estadio Azteca.

Then, Corona delivered this:

In a night in which Guillermo Ochoa made case after case that he was the better goalkeeper between the two, 39-year-old Corona delivered one of his best acts against the rivals, blocking Emanuel Aguilera’s shot from the spot seconds before time expired.
The first half was all blue, as La Maquina heavily emphasized going forward, resulting in a handful of chances at goal that were denied by Ochoa. Santiago Gimenez, less than a minute into the game, saw his driving cross travel inches from America’s goal.
America, inspired by Ochoa’s heroics, recouped their shape in the second half, dominating possession and the tempo of the game. Even so, the league’s leading scorer, Jonathan Rodriguez, was able to find room inside the box and deliver a trademark strike past America’s No. 6, increasing his goal count to nine.
Cruz Azul were the superior team, and the scoreboard was finally showing it.
But in a way, Corona’s save gave Roberto Siboldi’s side – once again leaders of the league with 22 points – perhaps their biggest win of the season, and proved that things don’t always go bad for Cruz Azul.
Elsewhere in Liga MX
Toluca 2-3 Atlas
Santos Laguna 2-1 Necaxa

FOLLOW LIVE: Liga MX tripleheader as league considers next steps

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A trio of closed-door matches in Liga MX kicks off at 2 p.m. ET when Toluca hosts Club Atlas, and it may be the last match day of the clausura for some time.

[ FOLLOW: Liga MX scoreboard ]

The visitors sit second-bottom and would close to within a point of 15th-place Toluca with a win at Nemesio Díez Stadium.

AS is reporting that Liga MX may suspend the season at the end of the Clasico Joven on Sunday, though there are also considerations of moving Matchday 11 up to midweek.

Liga MX ordered all matches behind closed doors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Later on, Necaxa can jump from 14th place into 10th with a win over hosts Santos Laguna.

The day finishes with an incredibly tasty match-up between Club America and Cruz Azul.

America can pass its visitors for second place with all three points, while Cruz Azul can leapfrog Club Leon for first place with a victory.

Sunday’s Liga MX schedule

Toluca v. Club Atlas — 2 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna v. Necaxa — 8 p.m. ET
Club America v. Cruz Azul — 10:15 p.m. ET

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

CONCACAF Champions League preview
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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

Menez experiment ends at Club America

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After one and a half seasons at Mexican giant Club America, the Jeremy Menez experiment has come to an expected conclusion.

Both Club America and Menez on his social media account confirmed the announce, mutually agreeing to terminate the Frenchman’s contract. In a post on his Instagram account in both Spanish and French, Menez didn’t seem to hold any hard feeling over the way his situation worked out, thanking the fans, the clubs and his teammates in Mexico City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It’s unclear whether Menez will remain in Mexico, the Americas, or return to Europe, though the timing of his move allows him to move to a European club just before the transfer deadline.

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Anuncio mi salida del club después de 2 temporadas muy gratificantes para mí. Quería agradecer a los fanáticos por la increíble bienvenida que me dieron. Me gustaría agradecer al club por su dedicación y habilidades y a todos mis compañeros con los que jugué. Nunca te olvidaré Vamos America somos aguillas 🦅🦅🦅🦅 ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Je vous annonce mon départ du club après 2 saisons très enrichissantes pour moi. Je tenais à remercier les supporters de l’accueil incroyable que vous m avez fait. Je te tiens à remercier les gens du club pour leur dévouement et leurs compétences ainsi que tous mes partenaires avec lesquels j ai joué. Je vous oublierai jamais. Vamos America somos aguillas 🦅🦅🦅🦅❤️❤️❤️❤️ #mnz

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Menez arrived at Club America with much fanfare in January 2018, with Club America hoping he could be a carbon copy of fellow Frenchman Andre-Pierre Gignac at Tigres. Gignac has gone on to lead Tigres to four Liga MX titles and three Campeones Cup trophies, along with becoming Tigres’ all-time leading scorer.

Menez, on the other hand, had a decent start at America in the 2018 Clausura tournament, but was completely out of the picture last season. He had multiple injuries and operations on his left leg, and manager Miguel “El Piojo” Herrera had some veiled criticism for Menez, stating that Menez wasn’t training hard enough when healthy and wasn’t bringing the right attitude to training.

After playing just 3 times over the course of last season for the first team, Menez had surprisingly been re-incorporated, both for America’s preseason friendly matches in the U.S. as well as their Leagues Cup participation.

However, since coming off the bench in the 2019 Apertura opener on July 21, Menez has been with the reserves and it seemed he had no chance of winning over Herrera moving forward.

It still remains to be seen whether European stars towards the end of their prime can succeed coming to Mexico like they can coming to MLS. Vincent Janssen, who is still just 25-years-old, moved to Monterrey in late July and is finally seeing the pitch off the bench. Janssen scored his first league goal last Saturday in Monterrey’s 2-1 defeat to Santos Laguna.

First Leagues Cup will be an all-Liga MX affair

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Given Major League Soccer’s record against Liga MX sides when both teams are bringing their best players to the party, it’s no surprise that the former has been left out of the Leagues Cup Final.

Instead, Cruz Azul and Tigres UANL will meet on Sept. 18 for the first ever crown in the history of the competition pitting teams from Mexico, Canada, and the United States top flights.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Choosing not to play Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Carlos Pavon amongst others, the LA Galaxy fell 2-1 to Cruz Azul in Carson, California, getting an Emil Cuello goal but allowing the below delightful winner from Orbelin Pineda just after halftime.

The Galaxy were in the midst of a nasty four-match fortnight, and opted for this match — a tournament semifinal against a league which has bossed its league — to rest their men. Not a choice we love, but a fair choice given the Galaxy’s mere 4-point advantage on 7th place in the West.

Tigres needed penalties to get past Club America in an absolutely bonkers semifinal.

The match was level at 2 after regulation, with two own goals, a penalty, and a 90th minute red card doled out to Tigres’ Roger Martinez.

The second Tigres own goal, which came before the club outlasted America 5-3 in penalties, came deep in stoppage.