The relegation battle is heating up, a coach has already been sacked, and two teams are on the upswing as the Clausura gets off and running.It was a busy weekend in the Liga MX, with the league table now taking shape after four matches of the Clausura season.
Already coaches have been fired, the relegation battle is suddenly very much alive and there are a few surprise packages.
Here are four storylines that stuck out:
Before the season started, Atlante was nine points adrift at the foot of the relegation table, but the gap between Los Potros and Atlas is now down to four.
Atlante’s new signings have started brightly, with Narciso Mina and Michael Arroyo both scoring important goals. The team is currently in eighth position and if it plays as it did last weekend in its 1-0 win over Atlas, it may well be in the playoff race.
On the other hand, Atlas is struggling and hasn’t won so far in 2014. The 2-1 loss to Club America on Saturday showed the team has fight, but there was a debilitating lack of cohesion going forward and Matias Vuoso was isolated.
New signing Jose Maria Ortigoza – a Paraguayan striker - will need to fit in quickly and provide the spark that Isaac Brizuela and Omar Bravo once did at Los Rojinegros. It not, TV Azteca’s recent acquisition of the club could look rather foolish in a few months time.
Xolos grinding out results
It hasn’t been very easy to watch Club Tijuana games this season. There have been obvious growing pains caused by new coach Cesar Farias stamping his mark on the team, and morphing it away from the squad that did so well in the Copa Libertadores under Antonio Mohamed in 2013.
But while it may not have been pretty, Xolos lie in fifth position in the league after two 1-0 home wins and there is a solidity starting to show through.
Fernando Arce is playing on the right of midfield and Fidel Martinez down the center in a narrow midfield setup that isn’t seen much in the Mexican game.
The worry for opposition teams is that Tijuana is in a playoff spot without particularly impressing. If Xolos do start clicking upfront and can improve their away form, they’ll be genuine contenders.
Bustos out at Morelia
Apparently because club directors didn’t like the team’s playing style, Carlos Bustos was ousted as Morelia's coach on Sunday, just two days ahead of the Michoacan club’s Copa Libertadores playoff tie against Colombia’s Santa Fe.
It is clearly not an ideal situation for Morelia, which boasts one of the most talented squads in the Liga MX with players like Jefferson Montero, Egidio Arevalo, Aldo Leao, Duvier Riascos and Hector Mancilla. Not seeing those players in the Copa Libertadores group stage would be a shame.
Every time there is a managerial vacancy in the Liga MX these days, the names of Victor Manuel Vucetich and Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre come up, and the possibility of a Copa Libertadores run could be attractive, even though Morelia isn’t one of the bigger clubs in Mexico.
Pachuca on the ascent
Los Tuzos reached seven finals between 1999 and 2009, but have been in a little bit of a rut in recent years.
This season, there are clear signs the club – backed by Carlos Slim – is on the up.
Young Mexicans Miguel Herrera, Rodolfo Pizarro and Jurgen Damm are impressing alongside the exciting the Ecuadorian forward partnership of Enner Valencia and Alex Colon. On the bench, Enrique Meza has won the league with Pachuca once before and is very experienced.
It may be early days, but Pachuca is once again looking like a team well worth keeping an eye on.