Promotion Watch: Ascenso Apertura Season In Home Stretch

The latest in an occasional series of posts tracking the Ascenso MX series and the road to the Grand Championship that determines who will get promoted to Liga MX next year:
With the Apertura 2017 regular season down to the final third of the schedule, the playoff picture is very unsettled and every team still has a chance to make the top 8. The most interesting stat so far is there have been A LOT of ties, but also the fact that every team has a .500 or better home record and only two teams are even over .500 on the road. The top 8 in the current standings, which would be the playoff field, are only separated by 3 points and the 9th place team is just 5 points out of the lead.
Currently in a 3-way points tie for first, with first tiebreaker being goal differential, are Celaya FC (1st), Alebrijes (2nd), and FC Juarez (3rd), all 3 at 5-2-3, 18 points. Tied for 4th are Cimarrones & defending Apertura champion Dorados, both at 5-3-2, 17 points but Cimarrones has the first tiebreaker. In a 3-way tie for 6th are Mineros (6th), Correcaminos (7th), and Atletico San Luis (8th), all at 4-3-3, 15 points. Tied for 9th, 2 points out of the top 8, are Atletico Zacatepec & Venados, both at 3-3-4, 13 points. 4 points out in an 11th place tie are Murcielagos & Atlante at 3-5-2, 11 points. Leones Negros (U de G.) are alone in 13th at 2-4-4, 10 points. Tied for 14th are TM Futbol Club & Cafetaleros at 2-5-3, 9 points, and in last place (16th) is Potros UAEM, which after a solid debut last year has slumped to 2-6-2, 8 points.
The top offense team so far is Correcaminos with 15 goals in 10 games, the top defense is Celaya FC with 8 goals allowed in 10 games. With only 16 teams this tournament, TM Futbol Club currently is at the bottom of the quotient/ratio table at 0.9545. The top scorer to this point is Alebrijes’ Luis Madrigal, who is enjoying a breakout year so far with 7 goals in 9 games (8 starts), which is far and away his best total since his early career days in the Tercera (3rd) Division and his U-17 & U-20 days with Monterrey. He certainly is hoping to return to Liga MX, where he has 7 career goals in 45 games, mostly with Monterrey but also has played in the top tier with Queretaro, Atlante & Mineros.

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(Very Early) Promotion Watch: Ascenso MX Pre-Season Presser Highlights

Earlier this past week, after the Ordinary Assembly meeting, Liga MX President Enrique Bonilla held a press conference to discuss the upcoming Ascenso MX season. Some notable highlights:
The Apertura 2017 Tournament will only have 17 teams instead of the usual 18-Club Tlaxcala has been removed from the league for failure to comply with the Rules of Affiliation, Name & Headquarters. They have until December to get in compliance to be reinstated for next tournament and the 2018-2019 season.
There also were team name changes & relocations-Club Coras has left the city of Tepec an will be known as Atletico Zacatepec for this upcoming season. Atletico San Luis, under new ownership, will now be known as Atletico De San Luis.
With regards to the debts owed by newly-demoted Chiapas Jaguares, Bonilla stated they have until this Tuesday to resolve their issues-as do all teams for both national & international debts. If they fail, they will not be able to participate in the upcoming transfer period.
The 17 teams for the upcoming Apertura tournament: Alebrijes de Oaxaca, Atlante, Cafetaleros, Celaya, Atletico Zacatepec, Dorados de Sinaloa, Correcaminos, Cimmarones de Sonora, Bravos de Juarez, Jaguares, Mineros de Zacatecas, Murcielagos, TM Futbol, Potros UAEM, Leones Negros, Venados, Atletico De San Luis.
The Apertura tournament starts July 21, the Clausura 2018 starts January 5. The Grand Championship, where the winner will be promoted to Liga MX for 2018-19, will be May 12, 2018.

Assembly Press Conference Highlights

The “Ordinary Assembly” meeting of the league was held earlier today, after which Liga MX┬áPresident Enrique Bonilla held an open press conference. Highlights and notes coming out of the presser:
The 2017-2018 calendar was agreed on-July 15 & 16 will be the Day of Champions with the Golden Ball presentation, SUPERCOPA MX & Campeon de Campeones. Bonilla announced with regards to the games on the 16th what basically are contingency plans that will come in to play: If Guadalajara wins the Clausura 2017 Championship they will not play in SUPERCOPA MX, and will be replaced by America, who would get the spot by virtue of most points in COPA MX stage play. If Tigres wins the Clausura there still will be a Grand Championship, they will play the team that scored the most points over both tournaments-that would mean they would (again) face Tijuana. In that case the Chivas would still play in SUPERCOPA MX.
The Apertura 2017 Tournament will begin July 21, with the 2017-18 COPA MX beginning July 25. The Clausura 2018 Tournament will start January 5, with the COPA MX Clausura starting January 11. Finals will be November 2 (Apertura) & April 11 (Clausura). There could be some schedule changes if Pachuca reaches the Liga MX Apertura 2017 Finals.
There will be 3 “double dates” next year, weekends with no Friday night game. Those will be Apertura weeks 6 & 11 and Clausura week 7.
The league will take 4 weeks off during the year for FIFA dates. Those periods will be September 2-6, October 7-11, November 11-15 & March 24-28.

The Liga MX Women’s structure for their next season was announced. The majority of the players will be under 23 years old, with each team allowed 2 players older than 23. Players under 17 will be limited to a total of 720 minutes. The league will mirror the U-15 structure, meaning it will expand to 16 teams. The only teams that will not have women’s teams are Puebla (financial issues) & Lobos BUAP (promotion-will be eligiblw in 2018-19).
The teams will be divided into 2 groups of 8: Group 1 will be Pachuca, Toluca, Tijuana, America, Veracruz, Pumas, Morelia & Cruz Azul. Group 2 will be Atlas, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Santos, Queretaro, Leon, Tigres & Necaxa.

At this point Bonilla took questions from the press in attendance:
Regarding rumors that Puebla is for sale, Bonilla indicated that is not the case. They were merely asked to increase their guarantee from 5 million dollars to 10 million and have all their debts paid off by the start of the season. Regarding sanctions against Fidel Kuri (I think he’s the club owner), Bonilla said his case did not come before the Assembly today as it still is in the Disciplinary Commission. That should be done later this week then the Corporate Practices Committee will take it up.
Regarding the ongoing issue of Chiapas Jaguares and their debts, Bonilla said that issue will be taken up at the next meeting on May 3 but all their debts must be paid by the start of the new year or they face sanctions up to possible exclusion from the league, which would mean being out of Ascenso MX.
Finally, Bonilla made a brief comment on Lobos and their promotion to Liga MX after winning the Ascenso MX Championship-he was confident that as a “serious institution” they would continue to fulfill all their requirements post-promotion as they did in the Ascenso.

Ascenso MX Grand Championship Game 2: Lobos 2, Dorados 2

The Ascenso MX Grand Championship is in the books, and the new champions-and newest Liga MX members-are Lobos BUAP! They clinched the title and subsequent promotion after rallying from an early deficit to wind up with a 2-2 tie at Dorados. It started horribly for Lobos-in the opening minute a Moises Velasco corner kick that was dead-on was caught by the Lobos goalie, but his momentum pushed him back into the goal and the ball was jarred loose on the top crossbar and went in for a goal! Gabriel Hachen then scored in the 29th minute to give Dorados a 2-0 lead in the game and the total score lead, but Lobos got a goal from Diego Jimenez in the 36th minute to make it 2-1 Dorados in the game and 2-2 overall, but now Lobos had the away goal disadvantage. But 5 minutes later, Amaury Escoto scored what would be the game-tying and championship-clinching goal for Lobos, and after a scoreless second half & extra time Lobos clinched the Ascenso MX Championship by a 3-2 total score and will replace Jaguares in Liga MX next year, while Dorados will have to try again next year for a return trip to the top tier. After a 4-7-6 first half, Lobos’ turnaround was keyed by the top offense in the second half, as they doubled their scoring from 15 goals to 30, their 8-6-3 mark good enough for 6th in the standings.

Game Stats:
Goals-Moises Velasco (Dorados, 1′), Gabriel Hachen (Dorados, 29′), Diego Jimenez (Lobos, 36′), Amaury Escoto (Lobos, 41′)
Shots on Goal-Nil
Corner kicks-Lobos 7, Dorados 6
Amarillas-Dorados 2 (Carlos Pinto, 69′), Hachen, 74′), Lobos 2 (Alfonso Sanchez, 71′, Luis Perez, 84′)
Rojas-Dorados 1 (Oliver Ortiz, 90+2′)

Venue: Estadio Banorte, Culiacan, Sinaloa
Attendance: 19,333 (108% capcity)-SELLOUT

Next up:
Lobos-Promoted to Liga MX for 2017-18 season
Dorados-Apertura 2017 Tournament in Ascenso MX

Promotion Watch: Ascenso Grand Championship Set

The Ascenso MX Grand Championship is set after yesterday-congratulations to Lobos BUAP, who beat FC Juarez in both games 2-1 for a 4-2 total to win the Clausura 2017 Championship, they will now play Dorados with the winner moving up to Liga MX to replace the demoted Jaguares. A press conference with representatives of both teams will be held Monday. Lobos would be making what appears to be their first trip to Liga MX with a victory, while Dorados is looking to return to the top tier just 1 year after being demoted.

Promotion Watch: Ascenso Gran Final Set

The Ascenso MX Clausura 2017 Gran Final is now set, and it won’t be a potential free pass back to the top tier for Dorados. The second half finals will be a matchup of underdogs-#4 FC Juarez, who beat Dorados 1-0 & 2-0 for a 3-0 total win, will face #6 Lobos, who upset #1 seed Mineros and their #1 defense by 2-0 & 4-2 results for a 6-2 blowout win. The finals games, if the preseason printed schedule holds, would be Wednesday & Saturday with Wednesday’s game at Lobos, Saturday at FC Juarez. The winner will be the Clausura 2017 Champion and will face Dorados in the Grand Championship with the winner moving up to Liga MX next year. The Grand Championship games are scheduled for May 17 & May 20.

Demotion Watch: As for who they will replace, there are 3 teams that could be the demoted team after today. Veracruz at #16 has an outside chance but with tiebreakers they are all but safe. #17 Morelia leads last-place Jaguares by 1 point going into the final weekend of action, so Morelia will be demoted if they lose or tie and Jaguares win. Jaguares will be demoted with anything but a win and Morelia loss or tie.