There was a lot that happened during this past run of mid-week games, and narrowing it down to just three seems a bit unfair. Santos playing a nervy game against a very good Querétaro side to regain the Superlíder from an idle Necaxa didn’t make the cut, nor did América beating Atlético San Luis in an empty stadium. These were both very remarkable events, but in my opinion these three were the most important storylines.
1.) Veracruz finally won a game. The streak is dead, as Veracruz won a game on their 42nd try by defeating Puebla 1-0 and I can’t but help feel a little happy for Veracruz. To be clear the entire situation at Veracruz has been a league-wide embarrassment, from paying a fine to avoid relegation to the players on most teams in Liga MX, Ascenso MX, and Liga MX Femenil not playing for three minutes in solidarity with the team who hadn’t been paid for months in some cases. But looking back at the streak, it’s hard to determine how much of it was simply bad luck and how much of it was truly deserved. Missed penalty kicks, conceding late goals, injuries, and other fluky incidents all conspired with poor play and bad management to make this historic streak a reality.
I’m happy for the players, who all deserve a team that treats its players better. I’m happy for the fans, who didn’t ask for a hapless team or a feckless owner. I’m happy for young goalkeeper Sebastián Jurado, who finally won a game as a professional. Let’s hope this is the harbinger of changes at Veracruz, although without a new owner it’s doubtful that will happen.
2.) Atlas’ loss was devastating. Atlas have been a feel-good story this season. Having sat in the dregs of the league for a while they were bought by Orlegi Sports over the offseason, brought in some good players, and were finally playing soccer that the long-suffering fans could be proud of. That came (at least temporarily) to a screeching halt with a 5-1 loss to Pumas. Four different Pumas players scored, Atlas scored an autogol, and the catalyst of it all was Anderson Santamaría being sent off. President Pedro Portilla addressed the media on Thursday and promised his side “is committed to move past this moment.”
It shouldn’t be all doom and gloom for La Fiel though. They’re still in the mix for a Liguilla spot, and has games against Atlético San Luis and Monterrey coming up. The debacle against Pumas is the first real sobering test that they have faced this season, and if they can in fact move past the moment they’ll be stronger for it. While they’ve already gone further than most preseason predictions had projected, we’ll really get to find out what Atlas is made of having faced the significant adversity of these last few weeks.
3.) Chivas misses the Liguilla. Again. For the fifth consecutive season, Chivas will be watching the Liguilla instead of being active participants in it. A 1-0 loss at home to Tijuana was what cemented the fact, but this was set in motion long before.
The good news for Chivas fans is that the hiring of Ricardo Peláez as Director of Football should help provide direction for a club that has looked lost more often than not since the departure of Matías Almeyda. The challenge will be daunting however. If Veracruz goes down after the Clausura, they will be on the bottom of the Tabla de Cociente by quite a bit and will need to rattle off a fantastic full year and hope that whatever team is promoted is awful if they’re going to avoid being relegated for the first time in club history.