MEXICO: Whither Michael Orozco? Who knows

Michael Orozco Fiscal's status remains uncertain after his odd departure from Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, with the defender from Orange apparently back with San Luis.

The Mexican club hasn't placed Orozco on the roster on its website, but Union coach Peter Nowak said in a news conference last week that Orozco had returned to Mexico.

It was a strange announcement by the second-year MLS club's coach. Orozco (Magnolia HS in Anaheim) arrived in Philadelphia on loan last season, started 29 of 30 games, was No. 2 on the team in minutes played, and was instrumental in tightening the Union backline after moving to the middle for the final eight matches.

Orozco was in camp with the Union and played in preseason matches during the team's camp in Orlando, Fla., and assistant coach John Hackworth had reported that the club was on the verge of a new agreement to keep him with the team in 2011.

The MLS' roster-compliance date arrived, and Orozco was gone. No word, no nothing, until Nowak -- a former Polish national-teamer, Chicago Fire icon, title-winning D.C. United coach and 2008 Olympic team manager -- finally admitted the defender had left the team.

“Why do we need to announce it? End of story, he's back in Mexico,” Nowak said. “Simply, his loan was up, and it seemed like this stuff was already done. There is no need to explain anything about Michael Orozco Fiscal.”

Orozco, who last year began using Fiscal as part of his name (in the Latin fashion) to honor his mother, hadn't been part of the team since Jan. 1, but he also hasn't been with San Luis, which is sixth overall in the Primera Division Clausura standings with a 3-2-5 mark and at the bottom of its Copa Libertadores group at 0-2-1. No indication he will be any time soon.

BIG SCORE, BIG GAME: Morelia's electric form took it roaring past host Toluca, 6-1, in one of the more stunning scorelines of the season, boosting the Monarcas to second overall (and in Group 3) with their fourth successive victory and extending their unbeaten streak to eight games since that 5-0 loss to Atlas in the Clausura opener.

Rafael Marquez Lugo netted a second-half hat trick for Morelia (5-1-3), which has a showdown this week at home against Pumas UNAM (6-0-3), the overall leader. Marquez Lugo is the top Clausura scorer with six goals.

Two more matches worth noting, derbies pitting Mexico City giants Cruz Azul and America at Estadio Azteca, and Guadalajara and Atlas at Estadio Jalisco.

AMERICA ON TOP: America (5-4-1) is back in charge of Group 2 after Angel Reyna scored two goals -- with a bending 89th-minute winner off the right post -- and set up the third in a 3-2 triumph at Santos Laguna. Atlas (4-4-1), which was on top last week, fell to Puebla, 2-0, on two Edgar Lugo goals, and San Luis is No. 2 despite failing to score for the fourth straight week in a 0-0 draw with Jaguares.

COPA TIME: Cruz Azul and Monterrey will meet in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal after finishing off league rivals last week. The Cementeros got two goals and an assist from Emanuel Villa in a 3-1 second-leg triumph over Santos Laguna to finish a 5-1 aggregate win.

Monterrey scored a second 1-0 decision over Toluca, with Neri Cardozo coming off the bench to clinch with an 88th-minute strike.

The Rayados will be home for the March 16 leg, Cruz Azul for the April 6 finale. The winner will face Real Salt Lake or Costa Rican power Saprissa.

In Copa Libertadores, America (2-1-0) edged Brazil's Fluminense, 1-0, on Daniel Marquez's second-half goal to solidify its hold on second place, behind Argentinos Juniors, midway through the Group 3 schedule. San Luis (0-2-1) is at the bottom of Group 1 after a 1-1 draw at home against Colombian champ Once Caldas.

ETC.: Pablo Marini is out, former Guadalajara boss Efrain Flores is in as head coach of Pachuca (2-4-3) following a 1-0 loss, on Mauro Cejas' second-half penalty kick, to Estudiantes Tecos. The Tuzos have scored three goals in their last eight games, winning just once. … Martin Bravo scored twice, the first after a sensational run, to lead overall leader Pumas UNAM (6-0-3) past slumping Atlante, 2-0. The Mexico City club has won three in a row and is 5-0-1 in its last six games. … Monterrey (4-4-1) vaulted into the top eight, with Luis Perez scoring a goal and feeding Dario Carreño for another in a 2-0 victory over Gallos Blancos, which missed two first-half penalty kicks. … Necaxa and Cruz Azul played 90 minutes of scoreless soccer -- one of three 0-0 draws Saturday. The surging Rayos (3-4-2) are unbeaten in five games since Sergio Bueno took the reins. Cruz Azul (4-2-3) had been 11-0-0 at home during the fall/spring campaign against everyone except Pumas (which is 1-0-1 at Estadio Azul).

AMERICANS ABROAD: Former Chivas USA captain Jonathan Bornstein, from Los Alamitos, didn't get to play against big Chivas. He was left watching UANL Tigres from the sideline again -- that's three straight games he's not been in Ricardo Ferretti's lineup, nor brought on as a substitute -- in a 0-0 draw that knocked Guadalajara from the playoff zone. … Calexico's Isaac Acuña went 90 up front in Gallos Blancos' loss and Jose Francisco Torres in Pachuca's defeat; former Galaxy star Herculez Gomez came off the bench in the second half for Pachuca. … Also subbing in: Edgar Castillo, in the 90th minute, for Puebla and San Diego's Joe Corona early in the second half for Club Tijuana in the Liga de Ascenso.

LIGA DE ASCENSO: Club Tijuana (3-1-5) is steadily climbing the table, up to fifth this week after a 2-1 victory, on Javier Gandolfi's 54th-minute goal, over Correcaminos (5-3-2), who dropped from No. 1 to No. 3. The Xolos have won three of their last four games in the second-tier Liga; Correcaminos has won just one of its last five. … Leon (5-0-4) took the top spot by beating Merida, 1-0, on Gregorio Torres' 66th-minute goal. … Eder Pacheco's fourth goal of the campaign carried Veracruz (4-2-2) past Dorados, 2-1, and to sixth overall. … Jair Garcia netted his seventh goal in Cruz Azul Hidalgo's 1-1 draw at Indios (he has half his team's Clausura total); Roberto Saucedo scored his in Correcaminos' loss.


Last week's games (home teams listed first)


Estudiantes Tecos 1 (Cejas pen. 69), Pachuca 0


Monterrey 2 (Carreño 49, L. Perez 75), Gallos Blancos 0

Cruz Azul 0, Necaxa 0

Guadalajara 0, UANL Tigres 0

Santos Laguna 2 (C. Benitez 30, Peralta 65), America 3 (A. Reyna 53, 89, V. Sanchez 62)

San Luis 0, Jaguares 0

Atlante 0, Pumas UNAM 2 (M. Bravo 23, 28)


Puebla 2 (E. Lugo 2, 66), Atlas 0

Toluca 1 (Zinha 23), Morelia 6 (J. Rojas 20, Sabah 39, Marquez Lugo 46, 60, 72, A. Ramirez 65)


Group 1: UANL Tigres 18 points, Monterrey 13, Guadalajara 11, Necaxa 11, Santos Laguna 10, Estudiantes Tecos 9

Group 2: America 16, San Luis 14, Atlas 13, Toluca 12, Atlante 10, Pachuca 9

Group 3: Pumas UNAM 21, Morelia 18, Cruz Azul 15, Puebla 10, Jaguares de Chiapas 8, Gallos Blancos de Queretaro 8

Overall (top 8): 1. Pumas UNAM 21 points (+11 goal difference); 2. Morelia 18 (+8); 3. UANL Tigres 18 (+8); 4. America 16 (+4); 5. Cruz Azul 15 (+5); 6. San Luis 14 (+2); 7. Monterrey 13 (+3); 8. Atlas 13 (+2). Playoffs: If season ended now, top eight would qualify

Relegation percentage: 1. Necaxa (26 games/27 points) 1.0385; 2. Gallos Blancos (60/66) 1.1100; 3. Atlante (94/109) 1.1596; 4. Jaguares (94/110) 1.1702; 5. Atlas (94/111) 1.1809

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Monterrey at Necaxa, 6:10 p.m.


Estudiantes Tecos at Jaguares, 3 p.m.

Puebla at Gallos Blancos, 3 p.m.

San Luis at UANL Tigres, 5 p.m.

Atlante at Pachuca, 5 p.m.

Guadalajara at Atlas, 6:45 p.m.


Santos at Toluca, 10 a.m.

Pumas UNAM at Morelia, 10 a.m.

Cruz Azul at America, 4 p.m.

Schedule subject to change

Leading scorers

1. Rafael Marquez Lugo (Morelia) 6

2. Wilmer Aguirre (San Luis) 5

Juan Carlos Cacho (Pumas UNAM) 5

Mauro Cejas (Estudiantes Tecos) 5

Hector Mancilla (UANL Tigres) 5

Angel Reyna (America) 5

Humberto Suazo (Monterrey) 5

Matias Vuoso (America) 5

9. Christian Bermudez (Atlante) 4

Martin Bravo (Pumas UNAM) 4

Carlos Bueno (Gallos Blancos) 4

Miguel Sabah (Morelia) 4

Emanuel Villa (Cruz Azul) 4


Last week's games (home teams listed first)


CONCACAF Champions League: Santos Laguna 1 (C. Benitez 71), Cruz Azul 3 (E. Villa 37, 53, C. Gimenez 50); Cruz Azul advances to semifinals on 5-1 aggregate


Copa Libertadores: America 1 (D. Marquez 70), Fluminense (Brazil) 0

CONCACAF Champions League: Monterrey 1 (N. Cardozo 88), Toluca 0; Monterrey advances to semifinals on 2-0 aggregate

Copa Libertadores: San Luis 1 (M. Arroyo 18), Once Caldas (Colombia) 1 (W. Renteria 3)

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Copa Libertadores: Emelec (Ecuador) at Jaguares, 6:45 p.m.

Friendly: Atlas vs. New York Red Bulls (MLS) at Glendale, Ariz., 7 p.m.


Last week's games (home teams listed first)


Altamira 2 (E. Gonzalez 16, J. Rodriguez 87), Alacranes de Durango 1 (H. Lozano 76)

Veracruz 2 (Maz 33, Eder Pacheco 63), Dorados de Sinaloa 1 (Guemez 17)

Leones Negros 3 (A. Estrada 7, Folle 15, D. Esqueda 74), Lobos BUAP 3 (Sara 5, M. Castillo 24, 27)


Indios de Ciudad Juarez 1 (O. Rojas 12), Cruz Azul Hidalgo 1 (J. Garcia 22)

Leon 1 (G. Torres 66), Merida 0


Atlante Neza 0, Irapuato 1 (E. Gonzalez 61)

Club Tijuana 2 (G. Mora 23, Gandolfi 54), UAT Correcaminos 1 (R. Saucedo 52)

La Piedad 0, Pumas Morelos 1 (og Infante 30)

Idle: Albinegros de Orizaba

Standings: 1. Leon 19 points; 2. Irapuato 18; 3. UAT Correcaminos 17; 4. Atlante Neza 16; 5. Club Tijuana 14; 6. Veracruz 14; 7. Cruz Azul Hidalgo 14; 8. Albinegros de Orizaba 13; 9. Altamira 13; 10. Pumas Morelos 12; 11. U de G Leones Negros 10; 12. Dorados de Sinaloa 10; 13. Indios de Ciudad Juarez 10; 14. La Piedad 9; 15. Merida 7; 16. Alacranes de Durango 7; 17. Lobos BUAP 5

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Veracruz at Lobos BUAP, 10 a.m.


Leones Negros at Correcaminos, 6:30 p.m.


Indios at Pumas Morelos, 2 p.m.

Altamira at Albinegros, 4 p.m.

La Piedad at Irapuato, 5 p.m.

Leon at Alacranes, 5 p.m.

Dorados at Merida, 5:05 p.m.


Veracruz at Atlante Neza, 10 a.m.

Club Tijuana at Cruz Azul Hidalgo, 10 a.m.

Idle: Lobos BUAP

Schedule subject to change

Leading scorers

1. Ariel Gonzalez (Irapuato) 9

2. Blas Perez (Leon) 7

3. Jair Garcia (Cruz Azul Hidalgo) 7

Roberto Saucedo (Correcaminos) 7

5. Juan Manuel Sara (Lobos BUAP) 6

6. Eder Pacheco (Veracruz) 4

Eduardo Herrera (Pumas Morelos) 4

8. Pablo Bonells (Leon) 3

Raul Enriquez (Club Tijuana) 3

Alvaro Estrada (Leones Negros) 3

Edgar Garcia (Alacranes) 3

Antonio Gonzalez (Correcaminos) 3

Edgar Gonzalez (Altamira) 3

Jose Luis Lopez (Irapuato) 3

Luis Nieves (Leon) 3

Roberto Nurse (Cruz Azul Hidalgo) 3

Mario Padilla (Dorados) 3

Mauricio Romero (Veracruz) 3

Pablo Torres (Merida) 3



Friendly: Club Tijuana 2 (Pulido 39, L. Orozco pen. 81), L.A. Galaxy 2 (Gonzalez 41, Donovan 75); Tijuana wins on penalties, 4-3