21 May, 2011

Tijuana wins Liga de Ascenso

Top-seeded Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente have just won the Mexican Liga de Ascenso and will compete in La Primera next season, for the 2011 Apertura starting late this summer. Los Xoloitzcuintles (the Mexican name for the dog breed that English speakers call the "Mexican Hairless Dog") won the promotion on an unusual rule.
Irapuato won the first leg of the final home and home series 1-0, then Tijuana won today's match 2-1, minutes ago. I was watching the match assuming Irapuato would win on the away goals rule, so I was very disappointed when Tijuana appeared to add to their lead, only to have the wide open shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounce out of the goal. However, Mexico does not use the away goals rule as a tiebreaker, rather, if the aggregate score is tied, the higher seeded team is the winner. The higher seeded team is also home for the second leg, so in the event of a tie, the higher seeded team wins in front of their home fans.

That is great news for UNAM Pumas in the second leg of the Torneo Clausura finals tomorrow. The first leg, at Morelia, looked like it was going to end in a 0-0 draw until all of a sudden both teams scored in a 5 minute span late in the second half. Francisco "Paco" Palencia scored first for Pumas with a powerful long shot into the "upper V" from 20 yards in the 68th minute, and Pumas were virtually assured of victory in the series, until Colombian Joao Rojas equalized for Las Monarcas in the 73rd minute on an assist from fellow Colombian Luis Gabriel Rey to salvage a 1-1 draw. UNAM Pumas, the higher seed (#2 compared to Morelia's #3) will host tomorrow's final, and, as it turns out, all Pumas need is a draw of any sort to win the title.

Yesterday I had assumed that UNAM Pumas would win with a 0-0 draw, while a 2-2 draw would give the title to Morelia on the away goals rule, but today I learned that is not the case. Since the away goals rule does not apply, UNAM Pumas is almost certain to win the title tomorrow, barring a total collapse like Real Salt Lake had in their home leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Monterrey, losing at home 1-0 after an impressive 2-2 draw in Monterrey.

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