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Liga MX roundup: Puebla, Tigres, León walk out winners

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Liga MX action continued this weekend with a handful of entertaining games, which were played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic. There was plenty of movement made, with León shooting to the top of the table following a convincing win against Pumas. Here’s a closer look into some of Saturday’s action.

Atlético San Luis 0-1 Puebla

Juan Reynoso’s Puebla continue on a path that is headed towards liguilla (playoffs), earning a crucial three points against San Luis on the back of goalkeeper’s Nicolas Vikonis’ penalty save. 

The win is Puebla’s third in their last four league games, placing them only a goal away from eighth-place Monarcas Morelia, who played on Friday with fans at Estadio Morelos. It’s still too early to assume that Puebla will clinch a liguilla spot, especially with six of their next seven opponents currently above the red line. But with a strong backline and semi-effective attack, they’re managing to squeeze out wins. That formula can, potentially, keep them on the path to the big party. 

Tigres 3-2 Juárez

After an unusual slow start under Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti, all things point to Tigres being back in its natural habitat. With goals from Luis Quiñones, Andre Pierre-Gignac and Eduardo Vargas, Tigres edged a valiant Juárez 3-2 in an empty Estadio Universitario.

A bout with plenty of goals, Gignac’s sequence with the head official a handful of minutes into the second half stole the show. The Frenchman was shown a straight red card for a foul on a Juarez player. Shortly after, the official – with the assistance of VAR – decided to void the red card and showed Gignac a yellow. Less than two minutes later, Tigres’ all-time leading scorer gave his team the lead.

Chile international Eduardo Vargas added a third in 76th minute, giving Tigres a game-winning goal.

León 3-1 Pumas

For now, with 21 points after 10 games, León are leaders of Liga MX. La Fiera are bouncing back in strong fashion following a low-blow Concacaf Champions League exit in the hands of LAFC and league loss to Chivas with back-to-back wins.

Staple and key players Fernando Navarro, Angel Mena and Ismael Sosa all scored in a high-tempo win against Pumas, who after starting off the season as the league’s best, are winless in their last four.

Towards the final 10 minutes of the game, former Real Salt Lake winger Sebastian Saucedo was handed his first red card as a Pumas player – a perfect illustration of the type of night it was for Míchel’s men.

FOLLOW LIVE: Chivas v. Monterrey headlines Liga MX’s Saturday action

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Liga MX’s action continues this weekend behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Chivas v. Rayados headlining Saturday’s quartet of fixtures.

[ FOLLOW: Liga MX scoreboard ]

Chivas, who sit fifth in the table and are four points removed from leaders Cruz Azul, enter the bout on a three-game winning streak. 20-year-old starlet striker J.J. Macias has recorded four goals in the last seven games, giving Chivas much-needed boost after a slow start to the season.

Rayados, on the other hand, sit dead last with zero wins to their name. The Concacaf champions, despite dealing with a severe championship hangover, are just days removed from punching a ticket to the Copa MX final.

Action, however, kicks off at Estadio Alfonso Lastras, as middle-table sides San Luis and Puebla clash. Saturday’s opener is followed by Juarez’s visit to El Volcan and Pumas’ visit to Leon.

Saturday’s Liga MX schedule

Atletico San Luis v. Puebla — 7:00 p.m. ET
Tigres UANL v. Juarez — 9:00 p.m. ET
Leon v. Pumas UNAM — 9:00 p.m. ET
Guadalajara v. Monterrey — 11:00 p.m. ET

Columbus Crew set to break transfer record for Liga MX playmaker

Lucas Zelarayan Tigres UANL Columbus Crew
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Another Liga MX star is set to join Major League Soccer, according to reports.

Lucas Zelarayan, 27, could join Columbus Crew on a transfer record deal in the next few days, giving Caleb Porter a new playmaking midfielder.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Patrick Murphy of Massive Report says the deal will hit $8 million.

The Argentine has been with Tigres since 2015, recording 23 goals with 14 assists in 139 matches. He was the 19th ranked performer in the league this season, according to SofaScore.

Zelarayan would join Vancouver’s Lucas Cavallini, who moved from Puebla, and Sporting KC’s acquisition of Alan Pulido from Chivas as club record purchases.

Columbus general manager Tim Bezbatchenko previously added midfielder Darlington Nagbe and defenders Vito Wormgoor and Axel Sjoberg this offseason in a bid to help Porter turns the Crew into a playoff side.

Yotun leads Cruz Azul to inaugural Leagues Cup in Las Vegas

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A neutral venue didn’t stop the Leagues Cup Final from rocking on Wednesday evening, as 20,132 fans filed into Sam Boyd Stadium to see Cruz Azul outlast Tigres in the showpiece of the competition.

[ MORE: Martinez scores special solo goal ]

The tournament, staged as a match-up between MLS and Liga MX, saw Mexican entrants as three of its four semifinalists. MLS teams largely chose second choice sides and focused on league play rather than taking a chance to make history.

It was a former MLS player who made the difference in the match. Ex-Orlando City striker Yoshimar Yotun scored a penalty in the 73rd minute before assisting Jonathan Rodriguez with a slick through ball two minutes later.

Next season will see the Leagues Cup move to 16 teams, with the eight MLS entrants the best-finishing teams who fail to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.

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.