MEXICO: America wins in Carlos Reinoso's return

America fired its coach and won. Monterrey expressed confidence in its quality and lost. Guadalajara just drifts aimlessly along.

Three Mexican Primera Division clubs dealing with crisis in different ways, and two of them, at least, are expected to contend for the Clausura title, no matter their slow starts.

America, which dumped Manuel Lapuente after opening the “spring” season 0-2-1, won as Carlos Reinoso started his third stint as head coach with a 2-0 win over previously perfect Atlas as Matias Vuoso and Angel Reyna scored second-half goals.

It might have finished differently: Atlas could have pulled even moments after Vuoso's strike, but Hebert Alferez tripped over the ball facing a virtually open net from close-range. And Reyna's goal was the product of the worst possible clearance attempt, by Darvin Chavez.

“I think we're on the right track, and we deserved the win because we never gave up on it,” Reinoso told media. “I'm going to be very demanding, and America must be a team that always goes out to dictate play on any field and against any rival.”

Monterrey (1-3-0) is 17th overall -- only pointless Necaxa is worse -- after falling, 3-2, at Pumas UNAM, the Rayados' sixth loss in their past eight regular-season games. And that after dropping just one of the previous 31 en route to two league titles and a best regular-season record.

“We realize that victories are always urgent, especially with a team that is normally used to winning and to playing good football,” Monterrey assistant coach Carlos Barra told reporters. “We need to reach the level of previous tournaments.”

Both clubs have the talent to turn their seasons around. Guadalajara (0-1-3), which sank to 16th overall with a 1-0 defeat to crosstown rival Estudiantes Tecos, is one of two winless clubs (Necaxa's the other) and has shown no knack for winning games. They've finished ahead just twice in their past 16 matches, dating to early September.

GOING DOWN: Necaxa's quick return to the second-tier Liga de Ascenso appears fait accompli after falling at Gallos Blancos, the Rayos' fourth 1-0 defeat in as many games. The club fired manager Daniel Brailovsky afterward and brought in Sergio Bueno, who has been in charge at Santos, Jaguares, Atlas and Morelia, among others.

“I am a man of challenges,” Bueno told Mexican wire service Notimex. “I like the complexity” of Necaxa's challenge.

The Rayos are the only team without a point and need a miracle to climb from the basement in the relegation standings. Or something like a miracle.

If Gallos Blancos -- the second-worst team in the fight to stay in the Primera Division -- continues at its current rate (1.273 points per game), Atlas would need 23 points in their final 13 games to escape relegation. Going 7-4-2 would work. So would 6-2-5. Or 5-0-8.

TEAM TO BEAT: It's still early, but keep an eye on Pumas UNAM, who is 2-0-2 (one of three unbeaten teams, all one point behind Atlas) after beating Monterrey, 3-2. Juan Carlos Cacho, of course, scored -- his fifth goal of the campaign, matching his Apertura total.

Pumas has forged its record against the toughest first-four schedule in the league: 1-1 at Toluca (also 2-0-2), 2-0 over Santos (2-1-1), 3-3 at Cruz Azul (2-1-1) and now Monterrey (1-3-0, but it's Monterrey!).

GOAL OF THE WEEK: A wealth of contenders this week, but let's spotlight five -- plus an own goal of the week:

  • Carlos Esquivel's superb curling shot in off the left post to give Toluca a 1-0 win at UANL Tigres.

  • Javier Cortes' volley to secure Pumas UNAM's 3-2 triumph over Monterrey.

  • Former Chivas USA forward Eduardo Lillingston's turn-and-volley in stoppage to life Estudiantes Tecos past Guadalajara.

  • Carlos Darwin Quintero's smash to the upper-left corner in Santos Laguna's 2-1 triumph at Jaguares.

  • Adrian Aldrete's bending 40-yard blast for Morelia in a 3-3 draw with San Luis.

  • And, with the own goal, Monterrey's Enrique Perez, who adroitly (and rather prettily) volleyed into his net from the edge of the box with an odd touch as he retreated while marking an opposing attacker.

ETC.: Cacho suffered a left-calf injury Monday night while training with Mexico's national team in Mexico City. … Jaguares debuted nicely in Copa Libertadores: Jorge Rodriguez set up a goal and converted a PK in a 2-0 win at Alianza Lima. (The home leg is Tuesday.) Rodriguez also set up the goal in the 2-1 loss Saturday to Santos. … Cruz Azul scored three second-half goals (one a real beaut by Alejandro Castro) to drill host Pachuca, 4-0. … Atlante has two wins already, topping Puebla, 2-0, on Yasser Corona's unfortunate own goal and Christian Bermudez's late rebound. … Wilmer Aguirre scored twice for San Luis against Morelia, his second two-goal game in the past three games.

AMERICANS ABROAD: San Diego's Joe Corona gave Club Tijuana a 15th-minute lead in Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Leones Negros, a makeup of a week one clash. Corona, who also started in Sunday's game (see below), has been in the Xoloitzcuintles' lineup in all three games. …

Sacramento's Miguel Angel Ponce is out with what has been reported in Mexico as a muscle tear in his left leg, an injury sustained in the Week 3 game with San Luis. … Texan Marco Vidal has transferred from Pachuca to second-tier Leon. He made his second start for his new team Sunday at Club Tijuana. ...

Former Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez was on the field for Pachuca's second-half debacle. … Puebla's Edgar Castillo, from Las Cruces, N.M., and Atlante's Sonny Guadarrama, from Austin, Texas, came off the bench when their clubs battled in Cancun.

LIGA DE ASCENSO: Club Tijuana surrendered just two goals in 11 home games en route to the Apertura title. The Xolos conceded more in their Clausura home opener Sunday. Tijuana (0-1-2) twice led by two goals but settled for a 3-3 draw with third-place Leon (2-0-2), which got the decisive goal from Pablo Bonells in the 73rd minute. Raul Enriquez tallied twice for the Xoloitzcuintles and Blas Perez twice for Leon. …

Correcaminos (3-0-1) lost its perfect record in a 2-2 draw with Cruz Azul Hidalgo (2-0-2) -- Antonio Gonzalez's 85th-minute goal was decisive -- but remains two points ahead of the pack. … Second-place Irapuato (2-0-2) also drew, 2-2 with Albinegros de Orizaba as Ariel Gonzalez scored his league-best fifth Clausura goal. ... Marco Padilla, for the second straight week, scored an early goal in a 2-0 Dorados de Sinaloa victory, this one over Indios de Ciudad Juarez (1-2-0).

OTHER NEWS: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has become a hero at Manchester United for his timely goalscoring, mostly. He netted his ninth and 10th goals of the season last week, the equalizer off the bench in a win over Blackpool and the strike that beat Southampton in the fourth round of England's F.A. Cup. … Tottenham loaned 21-year-old forward Giovani Dos Santos to Racing Santander in Spain and archrival Arsenal loaned 21-year-old forward Carlos Vela to fellow English Premier League club West Bromwich Albion, both deals until the end of the season. … Atlas will face the New York Red Stars on March 8 in Glendale, Ariz.


Last week's games (home teams listed first)


Estudiantes Tecos 1 (Lillingston 93+), Guadalajara 0


Jaguares 1 (O. Flores 72), Santos Laguna 2 (C. Benitez 37, C. Quintero 48)

Gallos Blancos 1 (E. Cortes 59), Necaxa 0

UANL Tigres 0, Toluca 1 (Esquivel 53)

Pachuca 0, Cruz Azul 4 (Droguett 40, J. Dominguez 61, A. Castro 74, Villaluz 87)

Atlas 0, America 2 (Vuoso 71, A. Reyna 84)

Atlante 2 (og Y. Corona 39, C. Bermudez 88), Puebla 0


Pumas UNAM 3 (Cacho 26, M. Bravo 40, J. Cortes 54), Monterrey 2 (Suazo pen. 28, O. Martinez 88)

Morelia 3 (J. Lozano 14, A. Aldrete 64, Sabah 72), San Luis 3 (W. Aguirre pen. 32, 49, og. E. Perez 70)


Group 1: UANL Tigres 7 points, Santos Laguna 7, Estudiantes Tecos 6, Guadalajara 3, Monterrey 3, Necaxa 0

Group 2: Atlas 9, San Luis 8, Toluca 8, Atlante 6, Pachuca 5, America 4

Group 3: Pumas UNAM 8, Cruz Azul 7, Morelia 5, Jaguares de Chiapas 4, Gallos Blancos de Queretaro 4, Puebla 4

Overall (top 8): 1. Atlas 9 points (+5 goal difference), 2. San Luis 8 (+5), 3. Pumas UNAM 8 (+3), 4. Toluca 8 (+3), 5. Cruz Azul 7 (+4); 6. UANL Tigres 7 (+1), 7. Santos Laguna 7 (-), 8. Atlante 6 (+3). Playoffs: If season ended now, the top eight would qualify.

Relegation percentage: 1. Necaxa (21 games/16 points) 0.7619; 2. Gallos Blancos (55/62) 1.1273; 3. Atlante (89/105) 1.1798; 4. Jaguares (89/106) 1.1910, 5. Atlas (89/107) 1.2022

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Morelia at Necaxa, 6:10 p.m.


Pachuca at Monterrey, 3 p.m.

Jaguares at Cruz Azul, 3 p.m.

Atlante at Guadalajara, 5 p.m.

UANL Tigres at Santos, 5 p.m.

Estudiantes Tecos at San Luis, 6:45 p.m.


Pumas UNAM at Puebla, 10 a.m.

Atlas at Toluca, 10 a.m.

Gallos Blancos at America, 2 p.m.

Schedule subject to change


Last week's games (home teams listed first)


Copa Libertadores: Alianza Lima (Peru) 0, Jaguares 2 (A. Pedroza 41, J. Rodriguez pen. 45)

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Copa Libertadores: Jaguares at Alianza Lima (Peru), 5:15 p.m.


Last week's games (home teams listed first)


Leones Negros 1 (M. Zepeda 39), Club Tijuana 1 (J. Corona 15)


Pumas Morelos 4 (J. Ramirez 4, Servin 5, Izazola 12, A. Luna 44), Lobos BUAP 1 (Sara 70)

Irapuato 2 (J. Lopez 52, A. Gonzalez 68), Albinegros 2 (A. Orozco 4, E. Hernandez pen. 57)

Indios 0, Dorados 2 (M. Padilla 26, R. Prieto 27)


Leones Negros 1 (Regis 44), Altamira 1 (Castillejos 55)

Cruz Azul Hidalgo 2 (J. Garcia 60, G. Velasco 71), Correcaminos 2 (og J. Bustamante 57, A. Gonzalez 85)

Atlante Neza 0, Alacranes 1 (E. Garcia 37)

Club Tijuana 3 (R. Ruiz 30, R. Enriquez 39, 50), Leon 3 (B. Perez 46, 56, Bonells 73)

La Piedad 1 (Infante 21), Merida 1 (P. Torres 29)

Idle: Veracruz

Standings: 1. UAT Correcaminos 10 points; 2. Irapuato 8; 3. Cruz Azul Hidalgo and Leon 8; 5. Altamira 7; 6. Dorados de Sinaloa 7; 7. Pumas Morelos 6; 8. Albinegros de Orizaba 5; 9. Merida 3; 10. Atlante Neza 3; 11. Indios de Ciudad Juarez 3; 12. Alacranes de Durango 3; 13. U de G Leones Negros 2; 14. Club Tijuana 2; 15. Veracruz 1; 16. La Piedad 1; 17. Lobos BUAP 0

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Pumas Morelos at Correcaminos, 6:30 p.m.


Irapuato at Lobos BUAP, 10 a.m.

Atlante Neza at Albinegros, 4 p.m.

La Piedad at Alacranes, 5 p.m.

Indios at Merida, 5:05 p.m.

Club Tijuana at Dorados, 6 p.m.

Leones Negros at Leon, 6 p.m.


Veracruz at Cruz Azul Hidalgo, 10 a.m.

Idle: Altamira

Schedule subject to change