CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Monday, November 7, 2011
Michael Orozco was the sole victor in the American contingent as the Apertura concluded in a cluster, with only four points separating the top eight teams after 17 games played.
San Luis 5-1 Toluca
Michael Orozco started and went the distance for San Luis in their drubbing of Toluca. The game pitted the two lowest scoring teams in the Primera Division, in a season finale that was anticipated to be wrought with missed opportunities.
It was clear that San Luis had other things in mind however, when they took the lead in the 4th minute with a Jose Gonzalez goal. The play opened up on the left flank with a ball played to the feet of in the left side of the penalty box. The defense barely had time to react as Alfredo Moreno redirected the ball with one touch back to Ignacio Torres who fired a shot from 20 yards out. Alfredo Talavera had what looked to be an easy save, but the ball popped out and into the path of Gonzalez who fired it home from four yards out.
With the stadium rocking, San Luis struck again in the 12 minute, as Moreno struck an impressive sliding volley into the goal from eight yards out. The play began with Ismael Blanco controlling the ball in the offensive third, heading towards the right corner flag. He picked his head up, identified Moreno running at the far post, and fired an accurate ball into his path. Moreno slid in unopposed and struck it with authority past Talavera.
The next three quarters of an hour would pass without a goal, but Blanco himself struck in the 60th minute off of a 30 yard free kick from the right flank. Jehu Chiapas served the ball into the right place, and Blanco slipped away from the Toluca defense and got into the path of the ball to gently deflect it past Talavera.
Four minutes later, Moreno would grab his second goal as he converted a penalty kick. Talavera, leaning in the wrong direction, was frozen as Moreno shot to the upper left of the goal.
Ivan Alonso would pull one back for Toluca in the 83rd minute, as he collected a pass across the goalbox from Isaac Brizuela and finished into an open net.
San Luis would complete the landslide in the 90th minute following a three man passing display between Wilmer Aguirre, David Salazar, and Blanco. Aguirre started it with a run up the left side into the offensive third. He passed across the middle to Blanco who took it into the right side of the 18 and stopped, controlling the ball and looking for support.
Turning around, he played a drop pass to Salazar, who went full speed down the right side of the box, beating the pedestrian defensive tandem of Manuel Torre and Edgar Duenas, who barely moved in protest of his intrusion. Salazar's pass found Aguirre streaking in from the left side, and he leaped past Jose Cruzalta to send the ball past Talavera, capping San Luis' magnificent day.
The win moved San Luis up to 10th place to finish the winter season. They finished as the fourth best defensive team, allowing 20 goals in 17 matches.
Queretaro 3-0 Estudiantes Tecos
Herculez Gomez started and played 63 minutes for Tecos as they visited 9th place Queretaro. Tecos had the better offensive output going into the game, but were neutralized by the home team for the course of the game.
The first hour went by without a a goal from either team, before Queretaro broke loose in the 62nd minute, as Emilio Lopez crossed the ball in from the left side of the box. The ball was met with an acrobatic diving header from Carlos Bueno. Christian Martinez came up with a fine save but the ball bounced out to Adolfo Bautista who struck the rebound home from 16 yards out, leaving no chance for Martinez to come up with a second save.
In the 68th minute, Jose Martinez would strike, off a free kick from 45 yards out failed to find the head of Bueno. The ball went over the top, bounced down to Martinez who ran on from the far post, and struck a magnificent half volley from a sharp angle, tucking it off the inside of the far post and in for the goal.
The final goal would come in the 82nd minute, following a buildup of nine passes through the midfield that eventually would land the ball at the feet of Sergio Ponce, who controlled the ball and dribbled towards goal from 40 yards out. He beat an apathetic Juan Leano on the dribble with a simple cut to his left, leaving him wide open to run at goal. He fired his shot from 22 yards out, curling it past the helpless Martinez to complete the series of golazos.
Tecos' loss kept them firmly entrenched in the bottom three, where they finish the Apertura with the dubious distinction of having the second most goals allowed in the season, with 30 in 17 games. They also finish with the third most combined goals, for and against, totaling 54.
Tigres 1-0 Puebla
DaMarcus Beasley started and played 90 minutes, picking up a yellow card in Puebla's disappointing season finale. The 4th placed Tigres traveled to Puebla with their eyes on a top three finish, and they didn't disappoint.
The lone goal came in the 27th minute off of a free kick from the right flank, about six yards outside the box, and 10 yards from the touchline. A nasty two footed slide tackle by Alvaro Ortiz resulted in a yellow card, and for one reason or another, Ortiz yelling at his victim, Danilinho. Lucas Lobos served the ball in, finding Jesus Duenas who got his head on the ball at the far post, sneaking it in past Alexandro Olivares.
The goal would earn Tigres the victory and a second place finish, while dropping Puebla to 12th. On an interesting note, Puebla finished the season one spot ahead of Michael Orozco's San Luis in total combined goals, with 55 for and against. Their porous defense was the fourth worst on the season, allowing 29 goals, only two fewer than last place Atlas.
Tijuana 1-1 Pumas
Recent U.S. Olympic camp callup Joe Corona came on in the 54th minute and played the rest of the game for Tijuana as they took on Pumas.
Pumas took the lead in the 10th minute off of a free kick following a deliberate handball by Juan Santiago that resulted in a yellow card. Javier Cortes stepped up to the take the kick, and he fired a cruise missile into the upper left corner from 25 yards out, hitting off the bottom of the cross bar and in.
Santiago would redeem himself in the 52nd minute as he leaped on a loose ball in the goal box following a free kick from the left flank. The ball was headed towards goal but deflected down and into the path of Santiago who half volleyed the ball in from six yards out.
The tie had Pumas missing out on the opportunity to finish in 4th place, instead settling for 9th. Tijuana will look to improve on their 15 place finish in the spring season.
Edgar Castillo continues to find himself stuck in purgatory as he once again failed to make the bench for America, in their 3-1 loss to Cruz Azul.
Daniel Antunez did not dress for Estudiantes Tecos in their 3-1 loss to Queretaro.
Adrian Ruelas did not dress for Chiapas in their 1-0 loss to Morelia.
Jonathan Bornstein did not dress for Tigres as they defeated Puebla 1-0.
Jose Torres is still recovering from injury, and did not dress for Pachuca in their 2-2 draw with Chivas.
Marco Vidal did not dress for Club Leon in their 6-1 massacre of Dorados, in second division play.
The Clausura will begin in January, following the Liguilla tournament, in which only Jose Torres has the potential to be involved in depending on the progress of his recovery. Herculez Gomez and Tecos will start the Clausura off in last place, attempting to ward off relegation due to having the fewest average points over the past three seasons.