Gringo Report: Gómez, Torres suffer playoff blow
US internationals Hérculez Gómez and José Francisco Torres each put in full shifts at forward and midfield, respectively, as Pachuca suffered a big blow to their Mexican Primera División playoff hopes with a 2-1 loss to Atlas on Saturday.
Los Tuzos took an early lead, but a controversial free-kick goal from a Atlas’ Alfredo Moreno – which replays showed didn’t cross the goal line – led to a turnaround in the scoreboard. Gómez, who had scored three goals in the last two matches, lost his hot touch and was unable to find the net despite firing three shots.
With two matches left on the season and at six points from a playoff slot, it looks as though Pachuca will once again miss out on the liguilla.
Over in Guadalajara, Miguel Ángel Ponce went all 90 minutes at left back on Saturday as Chivas' win streak was ended by Group 1 rivals Santos, who beat los Rojiblancos 1-0.
Chivas were left to rue a missed penalty in the 77th minute – which defender Héctor Reynoso was made to retake on two occasions – as Santos defender Felipe Baloy gave his team the win with a spectacular volley in extra time.
US youth international Adrián Ruelas took the pitch in the 87th minute for Santos.
Despite the loss, Chivas are well within the reach of a playoff spot by direct qualification. Santos, on the other hand, still have some work to do in the final two games.
In Mexico City, Isaác Acuña played the first half on Sunday as Querétaro were routed in their visit to Pumas UNAM, 3-0. The American attacker, who continues his comeback after an injury layoff, slotted in at second forward but failed to help los Gallos Blancos get on the board. Instead, it was former Chivas USA and current Pumas forward Francisco Palencia who stole the show with an early brace.
Fortunately for Querétaro, they entered the match knowing they were no longer in relegation danger and would live to play in the next Mexican Primera campaign despite a loss.
Down a flight in the Mexican Liga de Ascenso, Marco Vidal went the distance in midfield as León bounced back from their second loss of the season with a 3-2 win at home against Pumas Morelos on Saturday.
With a spot in the playoffs long ago assured, the second-place Esmeraldas will try to finish atop the standings when they play current league-leaders Irapuato in the final game of the regular season.
Over in Tijuana, Joe Corona and Xolos secured a spot in the playoffs with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Indios de Ciudad Juárez on Sunday.
Corona entered the match in the 76th minute and, in the 93rd, the midfielder started the play that resulted in Alejandro Molina’s game-winning goal with seconds left in the match.
Down in Colombia, American goalkeeper Diego Restrepo was in the dugout for América de Cali as the Red Devils upset league-leaders Once Caldas, 2-1 on Saturday. Goals from William Zapata Brand in each half proved the difference as América climbed to eighth place in the Liga Postobón table.
Jonathan Bornstein wasn’t in Tigres’ game-day roster for a 1-0 win against Jaguares.
Also not appearing in the 18 for his side was Édgar Castillo, whose Puebla team upset Cruz Azul 2-0.
Sonny Guadarrama didn’t dress for Atlante’s 1-1 draw at home against Necaxa.
Estudiantes Tecos’ American duo of Daniel Atúnez and Samuel Ochoa watched from the stands as their team fell 3-1 to Club América.